When you’re aggressively searching for a job, don’t you wish you had some insight into what the interviewer really wants from you – and doesn’t want?
We’ve found pure, unadulterated comments, complaints, and advice from actual recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals that they wish job seekers knew.
Take a look at what they had to say, and pay attention. What you see may help you land that job!
Caveat: all hiring managers are different, and what works for one may not work for another. If you can learn from their LinkedIn profile about the person you’ll be meeting with, you may be able to judge which of these tips may work best for them.
1) Know when to be quiet!
- “It’s OK to stop talking. I’ve interviewed far too many people who just don’t know when to shut up. Some people are nervous. Some people are unsure. Some people don’t think for a second before they start blabbing, and they’re STILL trying to talk over the interviewer as they try to steer them towards the next question.” – Reddit
- One recruiter concurred, saying an otherwise-qualified candidate may dash their chances by being too long-winded during an interview as it may indicate he or she may not be good at picking up on conversational cues and may raise doubts ability the candidate’s ability to organize their thoughts. – US News
- Another recruiter said that a candidate who kept silent after being asked a difficult question scored bonus points for not answering too quickly. The interviewer said that the silence indicated that the candidate was mature and confident enough to deal with the pressure appropriately. Silence may indeed be golden. – Pongo Resume
2) Write a unique, well-prepared cover letter!
- “Cover letters really are important. Oh, my god, they are so important. Yes, you are repeating much of the same information as your resume, but it’s your chance to show me why it’s relevant to this opportunity. Selling yourself in this manner is a great skill. And so much easier to read than a list. And so much easier to dismiss you if you call the company or the job by the wrong name.” – Reddit
- A recruiter stated that a small fraction of applicants take the time to produce a unique cover letter, allowing that candidate to stand out and worthy of consideration even when the resume may not be the best. – US News
- Another was blunt in saying that most cover letter “stink,” and that candidates should endeavor to create a brilliant one. When a great cover letter crosses this recruiter’s desk, it influences his or her interest in the author. – The Muse
3) Yes, good manners count!
- “Don’t interrupt the question being asked, by trying to finish it off yourself as if you and I are on the same wavelength. It’s rude, downright annoying, and honestly, it’s pretty cheesy thinking that you are finishing my sentences.” – Reddit
- “Always be nice to the receptionist/anyone you come in contact with when you show up for the interview. If you’re a jerk to the person at the front desk, there’s a good chance they’ll say something to the person you’re there to see. Plus, it’s never too early to start making friends with support staff.” – Reddit
4) Be punctual – but don’t arrive too early!
- One recruiter suggests that a candidate arrive no more than five or ten minutes early. Showing up too long before a scheduled appointment may make an interviewer feel rushed, creating an unfavorable impression even before they’ve set eyes on each other. – US News
- “Don’t be late either. And if you are, ‘I couldn’t find the building’ or ‘I didn’t think it would take so long to get here’ are terrible excuses. Makes me think you have no research skills and can’t plan ahead.” – Reddit
5) Be prepared!
- “For goodness sake, do a little research beforehand and have a few questions about the job and or employer lined up. At the end of an interview, if I ask the candidate if they have any questions for me (which I always do) and they just sit there slack-jawed, it really feels like they don’t want the job. The interview process is your opportunity to figure out if the job is right for you, use it.” – Reddit
6) Prove you’re unique!
- “The most important thing to remember in an interview is that you are competing with other applicants and want to set yourself apart from them. Everyone is qualified for the position, the entire point of the interview is to find out if you can present yourself in real life as well as you do on paper. (And to see if your personality is a good fit for the office.) Your entire job is making them remember you.” – Reddit
7) Be honest!
- “Don’t lie…just don’t do it. You will be found out. It might not happen immediately but the truth will come out and what might seem like a small lie will snowball into something out of control.”– Reddit
- Another recruiter recommended avoiding using “perfectionism” as the answer to the question, “what’s your greatest weakness?” You may come off as disingenuous and may even look like you’re avoiding the question. Not being realistic may make the interviewer think you can’t or won’t come up with a realistic assessment of areas for improvement. – US News
8) Speak up!
- “It seems so basic, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people – even at senior level – don’t bother to do their homework properly about the companies and people they are being interviewed by. There is no excuse for it in the age of the internet, and it makes us think ‘why should we employ you when you can’t even be bothered to find out how we work?’” – Career Structure
9) Follow up!
- An interviewer stated that a thank-you note sent as a follow-up to a meeting isn’t just good manners. More than one in five hiring managers surveyed by CareerBuilder say they are less likely to hire a candidate who didn’t send a thank-you note. – Career Builder
- “Follow up is huge, in my experience. I don’t see this enough from candidates I interview. Getting an email or a letter from someone I interviewed would make them stand out from the other people applying for the job – both because it’s rare, and because it shows they are actually interested in the position. The follow-up shows you’re interested in the employer, and that they’re not just one of a hundred employers you’re sending resumes to.” – Reddit
- “Even if you think an offer is in the bag, you can always improve your chances of getting the job if you send a thank-you letter.” – Fast Company
10) But be patient!
- “Please don’t follow up every day. It doesn’t show that you’re more dedicated or enthusiastic. At best it will come off as annoying, at worst it will feel like you don’t respect the person’s time. You have to remember that the hiring managers/interview team are making these decisions on top of their regular responsibilities, so don’t get too discouraged if you don’t hear back right away.” – Reddit
- “My advice? Send thank you emails after each interview and then wait. If you get another offer in the interim and are going to accept, inform the recruiter. I think every recruiter on the planet wants to give their candidates a first-class experience, but we have limited resources. If you’re too aggressive or unpolished during the interview process, companies will think, ‘Wow, this person is going to be really high maintenance if we do hire them. Pass!’” – Brazen
Again, every interviewer is different, and not all will agree with every single one of the above tips. But we found many hiring professionals each of whom expressed the same opinion on the above topics. Paying attention to these tips may very well help distinguish you from your competitors and help you get the job.
Author: Lewis Lustman; I’m a recovering UCLA English major who loves communicating using today’s variety of media. As Content Marketing Manager for HireRight, I have the privilege and opportunity to discover and share new perspectives on the background check process.