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The do’s and don’ts of sealing the deal in a job interview

Finally, after firing away those resumes and cranking out those cover letters, you’ve landed an interview! The job seems like a great fit, and now comes the opportunity to seal the deal.

Jeff Woods, associate director and career coach in  Daniels Career Services,  has decades of experience in hiring and plenty of advice on what to do—and what to avoid—in the upcoming eight tips.

DO your homework

The best way to feel prepared for an interview, Woods says, is to prepare for the interview. Research the company and the position and consider reaching out to people who are working comparable jobs in the firm or in other firms. Find out what the company values, how your position would interact with others within the organization. Company websites and LinkedIn are good places to start but remember Google.

DON’T forget to research yourself

You want to show up authentically and purposefully, so you have to know how you fit into the position. Sell yourself and what you can immediately bring to the organization. “You really are the product,” Woods says. “Focus on the value [you provide].”

During the coronavirus pandemic, he adds, it’s even more important to come across as trustworthy because companies may be hiring somebody they haven’t met in person. “That ability to be authentic and show up and generate trust through that discussion is really important at this point,” he says. Also worth highlighting these days: adaptability, diversity and commitment to building community.

DO keep the format of the interview in mind

Phone, video and in-person interviews all pose distinct advantages and challenges. Over the phone, Woods says, pay attention to the questions and answer them clearly. Establish some sort of back-and-forth rapport. A phone interview is the place to show yourself as someone worth introducing to the rest of the team.

During video interviews, make sure you’re focusing on the interviewer and not on the picture of yourself on the screen. Hide the video from your view if you can or use Post-It notes to cover it up. In both cases, remember that technology may have delays. Consider allowing an extra few seconds between questions and answers to ensure you’re not talking over someone.

DON’T pretend to know an answer if you don’t

If you’re stumped, Woods says, admit it! “Get used to being able to say, ‘That’s a really interesting question. Can you tell me a little bit more about it?’” he says. Replying with a question provides an opportunity to explore related issues and potentially find a topic related to your experience. Plus, it’s a good way to show the interviewer you’re curious and won’t shut down if you encounter something new. If a question hits on a weakness of yours, acknowledge it and describe how you’ve worked to address it.

DO ask questions, when given the opportunity

The end of an interview is a chance to follow up on anything that was unclear and establish rapport with the interviewer. Perhaps that means asking for more details on a project that was mentioned or probing further about team dynamics. Make sure you ask about the next steps in the process and when you can expect to hear from the company again.

DON’T ask about salary or benefits

Salary, vacation, personal leave and work from home benefits will all come up at the end of the process, Woods says, so there’s no need to ask during the interview. “They are either things that will be set in an offer or things you may be able to negotiate,” he says. “But I’m not going to negotiate that with a person I haven’t even hired yet.”

DO send a thank you note

It’s always a good idea to send an email at the very least, Woods says. Handwritten notes are even more appreciated. Take the time to specifically highlight things you discussed in the interview.

DON’T be afraid to follow up—at an appropriate time

If a company says it will take them three weeks to make a decision, don’t call back in three days. If it’s taking longer than expected, it’s OK to reach out, but make sure it’s from a “help me help you” perspective. Ask if you can provide any other information to help the company select the best candidate for the job. “That’s a way to say, hey I’m here to help you through the process,” Woods says, “whether it’s me or not.”

As a reminder, the Daniels Winter Career Fair is Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 from 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Every company attending is actively hiring students for jobs and/or internships that begin between now and summer 2021. There will be company recruiters and hiring managers from more than 20 companies. Make sure to have your resume ready and register