What are employers truly looking for in candidates during a speed interview session? For the answers, we went straight to the source: employers, who have participated in our Speed Interview Nights in the past.
Pay attention and put your best foot forward, or best hand if you’re interviewing with Neil Focht, Accounting Manager at Enterprise Holdings Inc. Neil admits that the little things, such as a good handshake, count. You want your handshake to be firm and secure—not limp, not sweaty, and not bone-crushingly aggressive. Other little things that can help you get off to a good start with Neil include introducing yourself by clearly stating your name and having your resumé ready instead of having to dig it out during the interview. Time is short and valuable; use it wisely.
When answering the interview questions, Neil says “it’s good to give specific examples of past situations without giving too much detail.” He finds that a lot of applicants back up their answers with lengthy personal theories and philosophies, but he’d prefer to be left wanting more from applicants—perhaps in a second interview—rather than less.
Being yourself and being sure of yourself also makes a positive impression upon employers. Brett Pavan, CGA, a Partner at Loren, Nancke & Company, says that he looks for candidates who are “confident but not arrogant.” Pavan values excellent communication skills and appreciates someone who can speak sincerely about something—and the topic doesn’t have to be about work. He says it can be as simple as being a hockey fan or someone talking about their kids. He looks for people that can interact at both a professional and a personal level.
If there is one thing that all our Speed Interview employers frown upon, it is a lack of understanding about the company offering the position. “Any research you can do about the company goes a long way,” says Focht. We live in the information age with little computers stowed in our pockets. Information is readily available at our fingertips. There is no excuse not to know or not to have done your research.
Pavan also suggests that if you see an employer again at another event, be it at another Speed Interview Night or some other function, say hello and ask some more questions. Perhaps ask for feedback on what you could do better next time. It’s important to continue to show your interest in the company and demonstrate that you are always looking to improve.
Additionally, here are five more tips from Accountemps for getting the job interview off to a good start:
- Pay attention to the details. In addition to the handshake, maintain eye contact, and present a professional image. This includes ensuring your shoes are shined, clothing is pressed, and nails are clean and trimmed.
- Ace the likely questions. Make sure you know how you will respond to predictable questions, such as, “Can you tell me a little about yourself?” Research the firm before your interview and tap your network for insights to enable you to couch your answers in the context of how you can help the company.
- Don’t be cocky. Strike the right balance between presenting your accomplishments in a positive light and coming across as overly confident. Being arrogant is one of the worst mistakes a candidate can make.
- Tell memorable stories. Give specific examples of how and why you’ve been successful. You’ll make a positive impression on hiring managers by sharing interesting anecdotes about how you solved a tough business problem or saved an employer money.
- Be yourself. Avoid coming across as overly rehearsed. Interviewers want to get a sense of your personality and how you would fit into the office culture.