Seeing the inside of a corporate interview process for the first time kind of blew my mind. I had no idea that it was such a well-oiled machine until I started my first job in recruiting at LinkedIn. The amount of detail and precision that goes into a hiring process from the other side of the table!
Now that I’m also a career and interview coach, here are some tips I always talk about with my 1:1 clients. It’s less about resumes and more about how you go about organizing and preparing for your interview process.
1. Your communication style is more important than what you actually say.
I know, I know. People will come for me with this one! But oh boy, is it true. Being able to clearly communicate your skills, your career stories and the value you add to a team is your most powerful tool in any interview. Practice your answers to common questions like “Why are You Interested in This Position,” “What has been your biggest milestone project?,” “Can you tell me about a time you resolved a conflict at work?” and the dreaded “Tell me about yourself.” Remember to keep your answers short and sweet. If they want or need more detail, you can always go into more depth after checking in with your interviewer. And of course — you knew this was coming — use the STAR method of interviewing to structure your answers.
2. Referrals are extremely powerful — and really do give you a leg up in the interview process.
I was referred into my first job at LinkedIn (after I messaged someone I knew on LinkedIn asking for help), and while I was thrilled to be referred, I had no idea what an advantage it gave me in the hiring process. Companies often have SLAs (Service Level Agreements), or commitments to the amount of turnaround time they have before they need to give referrals an answer. There’s more accountability at play with referrals, both on the side of the candidate and the side of the company because you have someone inside the company advocating for you. A typical referral SLA is anywhere from 48 hours to five business days for an initial response. Take advantage of this, and get those referrals!
3. Align the timing of your different interview processes as much as possible.
This is admittedly a tricky thing to do, but as much as possible, align your interviews so that you’re interviewing at the same stage at different companies, all around the same time. This will increase your chances of having multiple offers coming in at the same time, giving you negotiation power and most importantly, options!
4. Your interview failure is just as important (if not more) as the stories of your accomplishments.
Vulnerability is your superpower! Brené Brown was right. I resisted it because I used to think that showing strength was the most important thing, but it’s not. It’s self-awareness. We, as recruiters, want to know — how did you handle things when you made a mistake? That tells us more about the professional you are than when everything was going your way.
5. Don’t forget, you’re interviewing the company just as much as they’re interviewing you.
This is the next chapter of your working life! You could be working in any number of places. So why compromise on what you really want and need? Ask thoughtful questions that will get to the heart of what you need to know. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions and remember, many interviewers are eager to answer openly and honestly. They were in your shoes once, too.