4 steps that can make or break the interview

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job interview, senior manager and young apprentice isolated on wThere’s a common belief that if your skills match the job description and you’re asked in for an interview, there’s little reason to believe you won’t get the job. In reality, there are a number of factors that hiring mangers consider when looking for a new employee.

A recent CareerBuilder survey asked more than 2,750 hiring managers nationwide about their hiring process and what factors go into choosing a candidate for the job. Before you go in for the interview, be sure to take these four steps that can make or break the interview.

1. Be ready to speak with leadership
Whether you’re interviewing for an entry-level position or a more senior-level role, come to the interview ready to speak with the higher-ups. Thirty-eight percent of employers reported that job candidates are required to interview with a C-level executive within their organization (CEO, CFO, COO, etc.).

Prepare for this possibility by first understanding the company’s mission statement and place in the market, then research company leadership. Most company websites have an “About” page that gives a summary of the organization, their goals and short biographies of senior leadership. You can also research many C-level executives on networking sites like LinkedIn and get a preview of who you might be interviewing with. By doing this, you’ll come off cool and confident rather than surprised and uninformed — assuring leadership that you understand the direction of the company and those who are heading it.

2. Make sure your online persona is free of digital dirt.
Depending on your level of social activity online, you may need to do some tidying up or a more through deep cleaning of your presence online. According to the survey, a significant number of employers use the Internet to discover additional information about a job candidate. Forty-eight percent of employers use Google or other search engines to research candidates. Forty-four percent research the candidate on Facebook. Twenty-seven percent monitor the candidate’s activity on Twitter. Twenty-three percent review the candidate’s posts or comments on Yelp.com, Glassdoor.com or other rating sites. Some of the search activity happens before candidates are even called for a job interview.

Potential employers aren’t so much interested in who you’re “friends” with, but rather are researching you online to see how you present yourself and if it’s consistent with your application. Be sure to hide or delete offensive language or images; update your profiles to match the information on your résumé; demonstrate strong communication skills with proper spelling; be careful what you say about your job search online and don’t bad mouth a previous employer or a company you interviewed with.

3. Know your audience.
While a lack of skills is the primary reason why many employers will dismiss a job candidate from consideration, two other factors often come into play that can knock you out of the running.  Twenty-three percent of employers will dismiss a candidate who is not a good fit for their company culture. Eighteen percent will eliminate candidates whose salary expectations are too high.

Look for those companies that are aligned with your work values, which will require only a few extra steps of research and will yield better results. First, understand what’s important to you in a work environment, whether it’s the number of co-workers you’ll have, the length of your commute or the prestige of the company. Next, research what your realistic salary range is in the job market. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook supplies information about the availability of roles, as well as their median pay, among other statistics. Many job-search websites allow you to filter job results by company size, salary range and location, which will deliver results that more closely match your wish list for a job. When you find a job that’s a good fit for you, it’s easier to make the case to the company that you’re the right person for the job.

4. Proper etiquette is required.
Not only do you need to make a good impression during the interview, you need to reinforce it afterwards. Fifty-eight percent of employers said it’s important to send a thank you after an interview; 24 percent said it’s very important.

This might be the most simple, yet most overlooked, step of the interview process. Within 24 hours of your interview, type up a short thank-you email and send a personalized version to everybody you interviewed with and have contact information for. If you only have one email address, write a letter that thanks that person and ask that they share your appreciation with the rest of the interviewers. A handwritten note will most likely take too long to be received. Instead, opt for an email, in which you sum up the high points of the interview, your continued interest in the position and that you look forward to hearing back from them soon.

Practicing these four steps will put you ahead of your competition in the job search, and make you stand out for your knowledge about the company and its leadership, savvy nature with technology and personal branding, compatibility with the company and your excellent business etiquette.

For more information on how job seekers and employers think differently (and alike), check out the interactive infographic here.

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