You researched the company, sent your resume, and got called for the interview. As your interview with the hiring manager progresses, you become increasingly convinced that this is the right move. The job excites you. But at the same time, you know there are at least two other well qualified finalists. How can you become the first choice?
It will likely come down to how well you connect with the hiring manager and other interviewers.
As interviewing expert Michael Neece says: "The candidate who gets the offer is the one who makes the strongest emotional connection with the interviewers." I believe what he says, and not just because I work with him. Yes, the hiring manager should match an applicant's skill set with the needs of the job, but it's equally important to feel comfortable with the person who gets hired. It comes down to communication and building an easy rapport. If both sides can connect in the interview, the candidate has a good chance at landing the job.
If I ever had any doubt about that, it was erased in an interview of my own in the mid-1990s that landed me the job. In the first interview, I sensed a strong connection with the hiring manager, even to the point where we talked about our favorite snack foods. Excited about the job afterwards, I wrote a thank-you note, and included a discount coupon for her favorite snack (I happened to have one in the house). Days later, my new boss referred to the coupon and said, "Nice touch!"
The lesson here? Making a personal connection in the interview, especially with your would-be boss, can really help your cause.
Here are three tips for finding personal connections throughout the interview process:
Before the Interview: Research. Do a web search on your interviewer(s). Try to find something you have in common, whether it relates to the job, the company, the industry, or something else (like snack food). For instance, if the hiring manager likes golf, a reference to a golf term can't hurt. Let's say you're explaining how you handled a previous work challenge: "When my project partner was out sick for several days, I felt as if I was stuck in a sand trap. So, I just kept my head down and blasted out of it by devoting a lot more energy and time. When I looked up, I was on the green."
During the Interview: Pay Attention. Keep your ears and eyes tuned in to what the hiring manager says, and anything in his or her body language that indicates excitement. Pick up on it and make a note (written or mental). If the topic is something you feel knowledgeable about and comfortable in addressing, engage. But don't overdo it and don't fake it. Keep it sincere and within the context of the topic you're discussing in the interview.
After the interview (Last Chance!): Send a Thank-You Note. The hiring manager has an impression of you already. How can you enhance it? Use the thank-you note to cover any points you didn't address in the interview that you feel would boost your chances. Allude to something from the interview in which you felt a strong connection to the hiring manager to help you make your point. It may be a similar background, a mutual acquaintance, or some other common interest.
It may even have to do with snack foods.
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