We are in the midst of hiring several national and international positions and have had some stellar candidates. However, I’ve been surprised by some simple mistakes people make.
Here are just a few common sense suggestions of what to do when you interview:
1. Do your homework. There’s no excuse for being unprepared, especially when everything you want to know about a company’s mission and values is available online. You should know the bios of the people you’re going to meet. You should know how the organization measures success. You should know key initiatives. I just cannot believe that someone wants to join HOPE if they haven’t done thorough research.
2. Ask insightful questions. If you’ve done your research, you will be prepared to ask good questions. Candidates who show up with a list of thoughtful issues they would like to discuss impress me; people who have no questions don’t. The first questions should not be about benefits or salary. The first interview is simply not the right place to discuss these important issues.
3. Lose the ego. My quickest interviews are with arrogant individuals. Highlight your strengths, but also highlight the other people who contributed to your success. Don’t pretend that you know exactly what the organization needs or that you have all the solutions. A dose of humility goes a long way.
4. Avoid talking about how quickly you want to be promoted. Maybe it’s meant to impress but it sounds self-absorbed. It makes it seem like you are just looking for the next thing and won’t do the job we’re hiring you for. And it doesn’t tell me anything about your actual skills and abilities. Stick with demonstrating your strengths for the current job opening, while also casting a vision for your future.
5. Be kind to everyone you meet in the office. It’s more than the interview that matters. It’s also your interaction with everyone in the office throughout the day. If you don’t treat our office manager at the front desk with respect, you’re not going to get hired. Plain and simple. It is amazing how far simple courtesies go.
These are common sense suggestions. But I’ve marveled at how often people make interview faux pas.
So, what is impressive in an interview? A positive attitude, demonstrated competency, firm character, and a heart of service.
One interviewee said to me that he would do any job to fulfill our mission—whether that was public speaking or making coffee.
He’s now a staff member who has had four promotions.
[Please check out HOPE's current openings at www.hopeinternational.org]