Oh, interviews. I have yet to find a part of the job hunt that pumps up my adrenaline more than being asked to come in for an interview. Last week, I had the opportunity to sit in on a couple of interviews for the new superintendent of my former high school. I decided to go watch to, compare their techniques and hopefully pick up a few new skills I could use in the future. Today I found out that one of the people I watched was asked to come back in, and one was not. This got me thinking… What did candidate one (we will call him John) have that candidate two (let’s call him Sam) did not? Here is what I noticed:
- First Impression: The first candidate I saw was Sam. When Sam walked into the room he was very serious, somewhat stiff, and made very little eye contact with the board members. When John walked into the room, he smiled, introduced himself to every board member and acknowledged him or her by name. He appeared comfortable, friendly, and eager to begin the interview. Just in that quick moment, I felt that John was better for the job than Sam because of how well his personality showed through.
- Preparedness: Upon arriving, John had prepared documents with a 90-day plan, and a portfolio with work he had done in previous school districts to ensure that topics that may not be covered in the interview would still have an impression on the board. John also mentioned current school administrators by name and knew facts about the district. It was clear that John had done his homework on the school and wanted the job because it was Chelsea, not just to move up.
- Details and Examples: Like the old adage says, the devil is in the details. While Sam answered all of the questions, his examples were vague and cookie cutter. John’s examples gave an in-depth look at his past experience and really highlighted its value. The detailed examples painted a picture of what working with John would be like and how he handled tough situations.
- Write it down: This concept I found really interesting. During John’s interview, he wrote down notes on every question he was asked. At first, I thought the concept was odd, but as the interview progressed, it really made John appear more prepared. Most of the questions were wordy with multiple questions intertwined, but by writing it down, John made sure he did not miss anything the board was asking of him.
While I am not sure if John will get the job, I can say that his preparedness, confidence, and detailed made him stand out in the pool of candidates. For those of you like me heading into the interview room, make sure you arrive prepared, knowledgeable about the company, prepare to answer all parts of the question, and give detailed stories about your experiences. All of these can help in landing that future dream job.
Breanna Wooster is a graduate assistant in the EMU Office of University Marketing and is pursuing a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from Eastern Michigan University’s College of Business.