We asked one of our Co-Founders, Raya Wexler, what she considers when she interviews potential candidates. Here’s what she had to say:
This is from my perspective but you can and should apply this to any employer you’re asked to attend an interview with.
A great CV and qualifications are really important to me but give me a bad interview and I can so easily walk away from you.
Job seekers say a lot during an interview, especially as you’re quite nervous. As the interviewer, so do I! I have to sell the company and the job to you and you have to sell your skills your suitability to me, but we both have to understand this is a two-way conversation; therefore we each have to give the other ample air time.
So what would I and other employers look for:
I want to work with people I like and who like us and what we stand for.
So I want you to smile. I want you to make eye contact, sit forward in your chair, and be enthusiastic. The employer/employee relationship truly is a relationship and that starts with the interview (if not before).
A candidate who makes a great first impression and sparks a real connection instantly becomes a strong contender.
You may have solid qualifications and experience, but if I don’t think I’ll enjoy working with you, I’m most likely not going to hire you. Life is too short!
2. Don’t come across as desperate or needy
I’m taken by surprise when you say you want the job right away! Oh don’t get me wrong, I do want you to want the job – but not before you really know what the job entails. No matter how much research you’ve done, you can’t know you want the job until you know everything possible about the job. So hold your horses until then.
3. Stand out
A sad truth of interviewing is that later I often don’t recall, unless I refer to my notes, a significant amount about people I’ve interviewed. It’s really unfair but it’s an absolute reality whoever has interviewed you.
I will remember you by “hooks” – whether flattering or unflattering – so use that to your advantage. Your hook could be your clothing, or an outside interest, or an unusual fact about your upbringing or career. Better still your hook could be the project you pulled off in half the expected time.
Instead of letting me choose, give me one or two notable things you’ve done for me to remember you by.
4. Don’t be negative
There’s no way I can remember everything you say. But I will remember sound bites, especially negative ones.
Some candidates complain about their current employer or their boss. I have never asked them back for a second interview . If you hate being micro-managed, say “you’re eager to have more responsibility and authority”.
I get there are reasons you want a new job but I want to hear why you want ‘my’ job instead of why you’re desperate to escape your old one!
5. Ask lots of intelligent questions
I need to know whether I should hire you, but just as importantly I need you to make sure my job is a good fit for you. I believe candidates’ questions are the most revealing part of an interview. Great questions reveal insights. Sometimes a question simply shows how much time you’ve spent preparing for the interview – that works too. Great questions send a message, and they will set you apart.
So I want you to ask lots of intelligent questions. Tell me also what I may expect you to accomplish in my business, what attributes you have to make you the best person for the job, what you can do to truly drive results – all the things that matter to you and to me. 2-3 killer questions are all you need! As a rule of thumb, don’t ask anything you couldn’t have answered yourself with some research on your own. And make sure you ask them early enough in the conversation to give you time to show off your work.
6. Questions to ask much later, ideally when you start the job
I know you want a positive work-life balance. You like your holidays and live for your weekends. Don’t ask how long your lunch break is or whether it’s okay to take an extra half hour at lunch every day if you also stay a half hour late or whether I’ve considered setting up an in-house childcare facility because that would be really awesome for you and your family. First let’s find out if you’re the right person for the job, and whether the tasks, responsibilities, duties, etc. are right for you. Then we can talk about the rest.
7. I love it when you make a contribution statement
I expect you to do some research on my company. That’s not impressive that’s a given.
To really impress me, tell me how you will hit the ground running and contribute right away. The bigger the impact the better as far as I’m concerned. If you bring a specific skill, show how I can leverage that skill immediately.
8. I want you to ask for the job but I want to know why
By the end of the interview, you should have a good sense of whether you want the job. If you need more information, say so. Let’s figure out what you need to make a decision.
If you don’t need any more information, do what great salespeople do and ask for the job! I will like the fact you asked. I want you to really want the job – but I also want to know why you want the job.
So tell me why. Ask me for the job and prove to me, objectively, that it’s a great fit for you.
9. Follow up
Every interviewer appreciates a brief follow-up email. If nothing else, saying you enjoyed learning about the role and would be happy to answer any other questions, is always good. But you still need to separate yourself from the pack.
What I really like is when you follow up based on something we discussed. Maybe we talked about some topic so you send me information about that or you come across an article about the topic and you thought of me so you send me the link. Or maybe we both like cycling, so you send me information about a race I should consider doing!
The more closely you listened during the interview, the easier it is to think of ways to follow up in a natural and unforced way.
10. Dress to impress
Remember that part of the act of selling yourself is to ensure you impress me with how you’ve turned out to my interview. Too little an effort will not impress me and too much effort will also have a negative effect. It’s all about a good balance. I always make the effort for interviews and expect you to do the same. Never arrive at interviews in casual clothes unless you have already warned me and the reason why you will be in casual clothes. The least you can do then is to make sure you are smart in your casual clothes.
I’m obsessive about timekeeping! Arrive at least 10 minutes before your interview and I already have a positive opinion of you. Arrive late and I will use that as the “hook”! Not a good start at all! If for any reason you need to cancel the meeting always write or phone to explain. Never ever not just turn up! That is unacceptable in any circumstances and it is an automatic rejection.
I hope this helps you to get that dream job!