Scientists call it “thin-slicing
,” our natural ability to make surprisingly accurate assessments about people based on thin slices of information. We’re hardwired to make judgments about each other based on verbal and nonverbal cues as a matter of survival.
And not much has changed. Understanding the power first, and fast, impressions have in an interview situation can mean the difference between a good fit and a missed opportunity. Consider it career survival of the fittest.
It comes as no surprise that recruiters have become experts in recognizing the kinds of skills and behaviors that get results. So we decided to ask them what employers look for in a candidate, how they determine when it’s a good fit and what they want you to know before you apply.
1. Know your resume inside and out.
You might be asked to run through your resume
in detail, along with any number of behavioral and career development questions. Either way, you need to prepare to speak to the details, including:
- How did you get this position?
- Why did you leave?
- Explain your day-to-day.
- What were your core responsibilities?
- How was your success measured?
- How did you meet those metrics?
- What did you take away from the experience?
2. Be well rested and well prepared.
Behavioral Event Interviewing (BEI) is a big part of today’s interview process because it offers insight into a candidate’s personality.
Preparing for something like this really just means having an awareness of your own strengths and weaknesses and presenting yourself in the best, most genuine way possible.
There are plenty of personality
tests you can take if you want to understand what motivates you, how you instinctually respond to a challenge or stress and how to work with other personalities, among other things.
But to do your best, get plenty of rest and give some thought to highlighting your best qualities. You can even write down your strengths and weaknesses before an interview, as well as ways to describe both.
3. Dress for the job you want.
This is the time to dress to impress. Part of conducting yourself professionally is demonstrating an awareness of a company’s culture and what’s expected of you.
It also shows that you are prepared for anything. Even a full-time position or promotion.
4. Be confident in your abilities and skill set.
“There are a lot of people out there with transferable skills,” said one Randstad recruiter. “The specific job title on your resume may not match the job you are applying for, but you can certainly perform the job successfully.
Make sure you are using your cover letter
, email or in-person interview
to link your specific skills to requirements of a particular job description. Highlight examples where you were successful completing tasks related to what they are looking for.”
5. Show your interest.
You’d be surprised how often people sabotage their chances by acting disinterested.
Arrive on time.
A little early is even better. This shows a general respect for your interviewer’s time.
Put your phone away.
At this moment, few things are more important than the business at hand.
Practice articulating your skills and goals.
Effective communication can go a long way toward showing your interest.
“We always tell candidates to do their research and to have at least five questions prepared for a hiring manager,” said another Randstad recruiter. “We provide background information on a company but also ask that you do some of your own research: basic history, mission statement, key offerings/products, any recent news or awards, top executives, etc. It’s even a good idea to look up your interviewer on LinkedIn
if you have their information.”
You don’t get a second chance at a first impression. But with a little preparation, you will shine the first time around.
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