Right now, interviewing will be tougher compared to what it was like only two or three months ago. If you are actively seeking out a new job, you can’t take anything for granted. You need to bring your A-game and stand out.
Why The Job Market Is Changing
The United States is at an inflection point in the job market. Now with the benefit of hindsight, business leaders, hiring managers, the federal government, economists and investors realize that too much money was infused into the economy, creating an artificial bubble. Some of the signs include startup companies—without any meaningful revenue or profits—quickly scaled to billion-dollar unicorn status on paper.
Stocks hit precarious record highs—defying gravity. There was a cryptocurrency and NFT frenzy, in which novice investors viewed their investments as a way to get rich fast. The sugar high from financial stimulus only lasts so long and leads to a crash of some sort. The U.S. is already starting to see the repricing of assets.
Netflix, Peloton and an array of other tech companies saw their stock prices—which hit unrealistic stratospheric levels—come back down to earth. It's reasonable that businesses are going to take their time to reassess the new landscape. This will entail cutting costs and being more conscious of hiring. They’ll likely try to cut down on new headcounts, as there is the uncertainty caused by geopolitical events, inflation, supply chain disruptions and the ending of government-backed stimulus packages. There have already been several companies, particularly in the tech space, downsizing people.
With this backdrop, to manage expectations, you need to be smart about this new temporary environment. One of the best ways to rise above the crowd is to make the lives of the interviewers easier. This means you have to smartly sell yourself and make the hiring personnel love you. Here are some hacks on how to stand out.
Let The Interviewer Know You’re Interested
Many job hunters think playing hard to get is the way to attract attention and interest. That may work in dating, but it falls flat in today’s job market. Interviewers want to know that you desire the job, are excited about the opportunity, love the company, appreciate its corporate culture, use its products and services and genuinely feel that this would be a great home.
When interviewing, show your interest through your voice and body language. Come across as positive, motivated and enthusiastic. When the opening arises, clearly and emphatically state, “From everything I’ve read about, researched, heard from others and what I’m learning in this interview, I'm very interested in the opportunity.” As the conversation progresses and you still feel the positive vibe, tell the interviewer, “I like everything that I’m hearing about the role, and if you would consider extending an offer, I’d happily accept.” The interviewer will feel relieved that you possess the skills, background and experience for the job and will likely accept an offer. It makes their life easier.
What Really Goes On Behind The Scenes
Behind the scenes, there are a lot of things that you may not be aware of. When an offer is prepared, it has to be run by a number of people within the organization. Human resources, the hiring manager, the supervisor of the group and others weigh in with their opinions. The compensation package needs to be tailored to the person. The interviewer and people involved with the process want this to succeed.
If all of the time and effort exerted to prepare an offer is later met with a rejection from the candidate, it could make the interviewers look bad and lose political capital. The higher-ups will question why they didn't have a better read on the person and are annoyed that so much time was wasted. They’ll question the abilities of everyone involved with the process.
When you let the hiring manager know that you’ll accept the offer, they’ll be relieved that they have someone who will come aboard. This doesn’t mean that the company will stop interviewing. However, if you are competing against others who are more cryptic about their interest in the role, the interviewer will select the person who they know will take the offer, so they don’t have to worry about things blowing up after weeks of putting together an offer, only to have it rejected.
Ask Smart Questions
“What question should I ask at the end of the interview?” is a pain point. Job seekers wait in terror for the end of the interview for the interviewer to ask, “Do you have any questions for me?” Instead of focusing on being in the present, the person is distracted, trying to figure out some intelligent questions to ask.
Instead of going through this trauma, have a few questions already prepared. There is no reason to wait until the end of the interview. Instead, ask questions when it feels right. If the interviewer says something that you don’t understand, ask for clarification. When the interviewer says something that resonates with you, feel free to inquire more deeply into the matter, demonstrating your interest. Treat the interview as a conversation you would have with family or friends. It should be a genuine, organic, collaborative, back-and-forth discussion.
Some smart questions you could ask include, “Why did you decide to invite me to the interview? What about my résumé made you believe I’m right for the role? What would I need to do to succeed in this job?” These and similar questions make the interviewer think of all the attributes, background, experiences, education and talents you have. By answering your questions, the hiring person will start to convince themself that you are the right person for the role.
Demonstrate You Did Your Homework
It’s a big turnoff when an applicant arrives unprepared. An interviewer thinks poorly of a candidate that is unaware of the company’s mission statement, major developments within the organization or didn’t sufficiently read the job description or research the company and its personnel.
You want to lead by letting the interviewer know that you’re well-informed about the company and the requirements of the job advertisement. It's appreciated when you can clearly and concisely match up your background with what’s required for the role. Once again, this makes the life of the interviewers easier, as they recognize, due to your homework and due diligence, that you are highly interested.
Set Up Times That Are Best For the Interviewer
Of course, you’d like to set up an interview when it's best suited to your schedule. To show that you are respectful and courteous, defer to what days and times work best for the human resources person.
When asked about your availability, say, “Thank you for inviting me to this interview. I’m excited about the opportunity and look forward to meeting with you.” Then, add, “I understand that you might be interviewing several people and you’re very busy. Please feel free to share what days and times are the most convenient for you and I’ll gladly schedule my time to accommodate your availability.” This will make you stand out compared to your competitors, who might be imposing on the HR person with times that are inconvenient, setting a negative mindset even before the interview starts.
Wrapping Up The Interview With A Call To Action
When the interview is over, remember to tell them, “Thank you. It was a pleasure meeting you. I’m glad that you selected me. I look forward to the next step.” Be bold and follow up with, “Could you please share what the next steps are and who I’ll meet with for the following rounds?” By making these statements, you are framing the context in that you are interested and gently prodding the interviewer to start thinking about the next interview. If they offer the names of the people you’ll meet with, it will provide an advantage to check out their profiles on LinkedIn to gain a sense of their backgrounds and seek out anything you may have in common that will serve as an icebreaker.
As you are getting ready to leave, give a closing pitch that reminds them of your relevant attributes, by saying, “It was a pleasure getting to know you and learn more about the opportunity and company. When I first saw the job listing it felt right. Now, even more than before, I can tell that my background, experience and education would make for a perfect fit. I look forward to seeing you again. Thank you so much for your time. It was a pleasure!”