1. Know the company
This can take many forms, said Cantor. She suggests reviewing the corporate website and combing through your LinkedIn profile to see if you know anyone who works there. You can also check out what others are saying on GlassDoor, and perform general Internet searches. “Gathering information so that when you walk into an interview and the interviewer looks at you and says ‘what do you know about our organization,’ you’re very well prepared with all the knowledge you’ve gathered over that time,” said Cantor.
2. Know your technical background and what you bring to the organization
“Everybody looks at the top part of every job description,” said Cantor. Since it essentially details the responsibilities of the job, “go through your career and really evaluate what you’ve done in your career relative to what the company is asking for in the position. Be prepared to compare your resume to that top portion of the job description, be prepared with examples … tell me where you’ve done it, tell me how long it’s been, which departments you’ve worked in, where did you start?” In addition, Cantor said, “be prepared to answer questions for the skill sets you don’t have.”
3. Know your soft skills
The company provides the background needed for the role, “and if you get beyond the qualifications of ‘two plus years of experience’ or a ‘bachelor’s degree,’” Cantor said, “it tells you some keywords like ‘team-player’ or ‘organizational skills.’” These buzz words describing soft skills detail what the employer is really looking for, so give them examples, she said, using something along the lines of “I pride myself on having strong communication skills. Here’s an example of when I’ve had to use them.” Ultimately, the company is telling you what it’s going to take to be successful. “They’re giving you all the information. Take the information and make it personal,” said Cantor.
4. What kind of questions do you have?
“This is where I think a lot of people drop the ball because they don’t come prepared with their own questions,” said Cantor. “Well, why don’t you? You should always have questions.”All candidates should be asking about the hiring process, she said, and find out about next steps. You can’t go wrong by using “can you tell me when I can expect to hear from you?,” she said. “You should never be walking out of an interview without that information because that then translates into what the follow-up strategy is.”
5. Be aware of your non-verbal communication skills
“Jobs can be won and lost on simple things like your handshake, your attire, your eye contact, your scent,” said Cantor. “You need to be cognizant of all of the other things that are going on in your interview, whether it’s a panel or one person.” In addition to body language, be aware of the corporate culture and what’s acceptable (so don’t show up at a Fortune 500 company – Mississauga has more than 60 – with pink hair or dirty shoes). “These are things, I think, people tend to take for granted,” said Cantor. “Especially millennials, who maybe aren’t as experienced and worldly when it comes to the generations above and their expectations of professionalism in an interview.”
(Cover photo by Kelly Roche)