I was asked by a candidate last week what the number one reason is for a successful interview. I told him I can usually tell before an interview if a veteran is going to move on to the next step or be one of a string of “no’s” at the end of the day.
It’s not the resume.
It’s not education.
That’s right – I can tell if a qualified candidate will move on to the next interview with a company based on his attitude, because the right attitude guarantees the candidate has confidence, competence, and fits in with the culture of the interviewing company.
Knowing your resume and being able to talk confidently makes an instant, strong impression on interviewers. Discussing your education, skills, and experience while showing a little humor, looking your interviewer in the eye, and speaking about your accomplishments wins an interview nine times out of ten.
Showing you are a fit for the job guarantees success. Don’t tell the hiring manager you are a fit – tell her and then give a great example of what she is asking about. Display your competence by discussing your job duties, deployments, and additional duties and how well you did them. Above all else, continually refer your experience and skills back to the job you are trying to win.
People want to work with people they like. Not something you can ever control in the military, but companies struggle long and hard to hire the right people for their culture. Make sure you know the culture of a company before you interview – is it innovative, like Apple? Customer-service focused like Zappos? Technology-focused like Intel? Show an understanding and an affinity of the company you are interviewing for by discussing and exemplifying its culture.
The last pieces of advice on winning an interview and getting to the next round? Practice interviewing long before your first one and continue to try to make yourself better. And smile – people want to like who they work with. Go into your interview with a positive attitude and a friendly demeanor and the whole tone of the interview will change in your favor.