Finding the perfect job can be tough, but there’s a less often discussed aspect to filling a job position: finding the perfect candidate. Even if applicants have the perfect set of qualifications and look great on paper, hiring prospects can completely collapse during an in-person interview.
Fairygodboss co-founder Georgene Huang is an experienced interviewer. Not just in her current role as Fairygodboss’ CEO, but in her previous work as well.
“I first cut my teeth in what I'll describe as high-volume hiring in my role at Bloomberg Ventures, a new investment fund/incubator at Bloomberg LP,” Huang said. “We were starting to build new companies from scratch, starting with nothing more than a business plan or basic idea. One of the most important things we had to do was hire the initial CEO/senior leadership teams of these newly incubated companies.”
In order to get these companies running as quickly as possible, Huang and her team went through intense interviewing periods. They interviewed people with different backgrounds one after another for a wide variety of leadership roles.
So how do you become the kind of candidate employers want to hire? According to Huang, there are four key pieces to a great interview:
Know about the company, the position and have some follow up questions ready. Like Huang says: “prepare for your interview. Make sure you don't just apply to a role because you figure there's no downside.”
Don’t make a bad first impression by being late! Per the old adage: early is on time, on time is late and late is unacceptable.
“I wish candidates knew that they had to show enthusiasm and energy in their interviews, regardless of how talented and qualified they are,” Huang said. “People underestimate the impact of high energy presentations on the interviewer's judgment of you.”
Make sure you send a thank you note after the interview, complete with a meaningful note that references a clear point in the conversation.
“My dream interview is one in which the candidate is prepared, asks thoughtful questions and presents themselves in such a way that they are likely to make it to the next round,” Huang said. “It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes someone walks in the door who really is a great fit both personally and professionally for the role and they are able to communicate all of that.
“Only apply to jobs you actually want and after you determine that your background and personality are a match for it,” Huang said. “If everyone did this, there'd be a lot fewer bad interviews and wasted time both for candidates and interviewers.”
Candidates who perform badly in interviews, Huang says, tend to do so for the same few reasons. “The candidate is poorly prepared, asks questions that are obvious or should be apparent from a quick internet search,” Huang said. “It's also really bad if they don't fit the job description qualifications very well or are rude and/or late.”
But don’t worry — you can fix a bad interview! Figuring out some last-minute questions to ask your interviewer is always a good idea. If you’re blanking on questions to ask about the job, you can about the application process.
“Always ask for information about the process if it seems like it's more complex than you think it might be or taking a very long time relative to your expectations,” Huang said. “Maybe a prospective employer is going through a merger or corporate reorganization. That can sometimes slow hiring down or change the process mid-way.”
No matter how you look at it, interviews are tough for everyone — regardless of what side of the table you’re on. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and Huang says that it’s important to make it count.
“People want to work with those that indicate they are very interested in them,” Huang said. “Don’t waste a chance to make a good impression.”
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