Many thoughts may run through our minds on our way to an interview. A potential job that you have been working towards for months. An interview will be what stands between you and your next job. In the construction industry, we should always strive to be our best selves and gain experience daily. People wonder how they may stand out in an interview to land that dream job. Created from interviewing hundreds of construction professional, positions ranging from assistant project managers to construction executives, here are five tips to help you stand out in your next interview:
1. Be 10 minutes early and not 1 minute late.
This is obvious, but how early is the key. I have always told candidates that you are to be 10 minutes early and no earlier. I have had candidates that are excited and show up 30 minutes before the scheduled interview time. This is not a good thing. The hiring managers have set the time for a reason. They have work to do. If you are in the lobby, it puts them under pressure and starts the process off on the wrong foot. If you happen to get to the location 30 minutes early, stay in your car and mentally prepare for the meeting, and then go in 10 minutes before the appointment.
Never be a minute late! Think of the interview as you have to catch a flight. Have you ever missed a flight? Most people have not. Allow yourself enough time to get there, and be sure to account for traffic, accidents, and even a flat tire. With all of that in mind, you should be good to go.
Ten minutes early and not a minute late. This is a good practice and sets the tone for a great interview.
2. Virtual Interviewing
During the age of COVID-19, a good portion of interviews are being conducted virtually. There are many platforms that can be utilized for the interview from Zoom to Skype. If you know that a virtual interview is coming up and you have never utilized these tools, familiarize yourself with them in advance. Candidates often show up late due to not being logged in or understanding how to use the platform. This is as bad as being one minute late to a face-to-face. This shows the hiring manager that you are not punctual and struggle with technology (not a great start).
Pets and family: Be sure you are in a quiet place and not distracted by pets or family members. This can be very frustrating to the hiring manager, so make sure you are undisturbed.
Get dressed: Get fully dressed! Many people are wearing a nice, professional shirt, but pairing it with jogging shorts or yoga pants. Getting completely professionally dressed will make you feel better and you will be more engaged in the process.
Takeaways: Learn the interview platforms and be logged in early and be sure you are not on mute. Be in a quiet place away from any distractions and get dressed for success.
3. Ask the right questions
This is an area where some candidates fall short. When I prep a candidate, I always ask them, "what questions do you have for the interviewer?" Now, this is a loaded question in and of itself, because this will tell me where their head's at. If the response is "what's the pay range" or "what benefits do you offer?" These are not good questions to ask; those are "what you can do for me" questions. Your questions need to center around the position and the company and not yourself. Here are some great questions to ask (only offering a few): What are the most important functions of the role? Could you tell me a little about the team I would be working with? If I was selected for the position, what would you like me to accomplish in the first 180 calendar days? What are the objectives of this role? If you are talking to the "boss," also ask, how can we work together as a team to accomplish those objectives? In your experience, what's the common thread for those that succeed in this role? Why do some fail in the role? Again, be sure the questions are about the position and the company and not centered around what they can do for you. Make it a great day.
4. Always be positive about previous employers
One thing that could cost you the job is bad-mouthing a previous employer or boss in the interview. When they ask you "why did you leave your current company?" and you respond by telling them what a jerk your boss was or that the company is lousy and you hated it there; that's not a great step in the right direction. It's ok to be honest but do it the right way. It's one thing to have a bad experience with a company or a boss, but don't go on and on about all the "issues." Keep it simple and positive. If you are droning on and on, the interviewer will potentially start to wonder if you were the problem, or if you would be a problem for them. It's fine to say, "it wasn't a good fit for me, but I learned a great deal and was happy to gain the experience."
5. Put your phone away
This is a simple thing to do that seems to be lost on people. The most important thing that you will be doing this week is interviewing for that great position with that great company, so leave your phone in the car. Unless you have a sick relative or a spouse getting ready to go into labor, you can unplug. Nothing is more of a turn off to an interviewer than a phone ringing or vibrating in the meeting. That is an excellent way to show the interviewer that their time is not valuable. So, UNPLUG and give them the time and attention they deserve.
These steps are some of the most crucial parts of an interview. Be sure to write these down and remember to take these tips with you on your next interview.