Although the Silicon Valley tech job market is hot and the “war for talent” is in full swing, just because your skill set is in demand, there is still no excuse for not being prepared for every interview. If you aren’t willing to do some work up front, don’t bother committing to an interview as it will be a waste of time for you and the person who is interviewing you. Here are 7 tips you must absolutely be mindful of as you start interviewing:
- Prepare, prepare, prepare: Do your homework on the company you are interviewing with. Even if you are working with a recruiter who is providing you with as much information as possible, you should still do your own due diligence before showing up for an interview (whether by phone or onsite). With the access to information available at your finger tips, there is no excuse for being unprepared. Not only should you understand the company prior to the interview, you should also research the interviewer and have the job description at hand to specifically address how your skills meet the needs of their requirements articulated in the job description.
- If you are late – own it: Always make sure you have the contact information for the recruiter you work with or the person you are interviewing with. If you think you might be late, be sure to call as soon as possible and NOT after your behind time. If you cannot avoid being late, say something along the lines of “I’m sorry I’m late and I know that this is going to impact your schedule for today, so my plan is to get there as soon as possible. But I’m happy to reschedule whenever is convenient for you.”
- Take notes: It’s next to impossible to retain all the information you receive in an interview. Have your notebook and pen(s) at hand to take notes. This will allow you to jot down any questions you may have during the interview. Also, it shows that you are engaged and well prepared.
- Ask good questions: In addition to being prepared to discuss your own skill sets and how your experience specifically relates to the job you are interviewing for, you should prepare at least 3 quality questions to ask the interviewer. Ask about quarterly goals for the team, culture, and accomplishments the team is most proud of. And when you ask, be prepared to LISTEN to the answer. My pet peeve is a candidate who doesn’t have a single question for me in an interview. If you’ve taken good notes and have done your homework, you will be able to come up with at least 2 or 3 solid questions.
- Don’t complain about or slight your former employer: Never complain or make negative comments about your former employer. No one likes a complainer and no one wants a complainer on their team.
- Ask how you did and then ask for the job: Ask the interviewer directly if they think you are a good fit for the position. This direct question will encourage the interviewer to express any doubts that you can address in real time. Once you’ve addressed any of their concerns, if you still want the job – ask for it! This shows that you are a direct, straightforward person who isn’t afraid to ask for what they want.
- If you don’t see a match or are not interested – be honest: After speaking with the interviewer, if you know that you are not a match or are no longer interested, be honest with yourself and with them. Be tactful and say something like “After hearing more about your specific needs, I don’t think I’m going to be the best match. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.”
Interviewing isn’t easy and can be nerve-wracking, but there are some simple steps you can take to ensure that you always put your best foot forward. Prepare, be professional, articulate yourself clearly, and ask for what you want. Taking these few steps will ensure that you will be well received. And in a small valley with a hot job market, it’s critical to make a good impression.