You may not realize it, but your job interview starts before you ever step foot in the door. The second a hiring manager reads your résumé and cover letter, the interview process has begun. They create the hiring manager’s first impression of you. The second you get a call for an interview, know that you’re already being interviewed and judged.
Take note of every little detail in your interactions. Whether you communicate via email or phone, your initial interaction is the time to start making that good impression.
Want to wow your potential new employer before you ever meet them in person? Keep reading for the five ways you can impress the boss before the interview takes place.
1. Respond promptly
No one will hire you if they don’t think you’re excited about the job. And the easiest way to show excitement and enthusiasm is to respond promptly to phone calls and emails. A prompt response also demonstrates that you can handle tasks in a timely manner.
When a hiring manager reaches out to offer you an interview, get back to them as soon as possible. The longer you wait to respond, the more it will look like you don’t care about the opportunity.
If you’re currently working and it takes you a few hours to respond, that’s understandable. The interviewer won’t hold it against you if you were in a meeting and weren’t able to respond immediately. If you’re out of work, there shouldn’t be any delay in your response. Get back to them ASAP!
2. Show your passion for the field
You don’t have to say too much about your passion in your initial correspondence, but you can convey the idea that you’re excited about the opportunity and the specific company you’re going to interview with.
Start by letting them know you’re thrilled at the opportunity to come in for an in-person interview. You have to sound believable. Don’t make it seem like you’re excited just because you’d be thrilled to take any old job that comes your way.
You can back up your enthusiasm by briefly mentioning a project the company has done or some contribution they’ve made to their field. And to do that, you’ll need to do your homework first. By giving this example, it shows the interviewer that you’ve done your research. It also shows them that you’re genuinely excited about the possibility of being part of their operation.
3. Touch on your potential contributions
In most cases, your first interaction will be an email to set up an interview. Do not write paragraphs about what you can and can’t do. Keep if brief yet touch on your potential contributions.
For example, if you know the job requires the launch of a new product, briefly mention a similar project you’ve worked on in the past. That's a great way to make yourself sound relevant and ready for the project or position.
Don’t go too crazy with this. If they’re calling you for an interview they’ve already reviewed your résumé, and that means they already know your prior work history and experience. Making one or two statements about your qualifications should suffice.
4. Mention your contacts at the company
If someone who works at the company notified you about the job opening, mention that person when talking with the interviewer. For example, if you have a friend or an old coworker who works there, it’s worth mentioning.
Don’t do it just to name-drop. Instead, use it to demonstrate that you understand the culture of the workplace and are knowledgeable about what the company does.
In your email response, include a few short lines that mention the person in a subtle. Here’s an example:
Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview with [company]. I was excited to find out about the position through John Smith, who works as a software architect in your IT department. From what he tells me, it sounds like a great place to work. The new project sounds exciting, and I welcome the chance to interview to discuss my qualifications further.
A little name-drop can help get you in the door, but only if the person you know there is a valued employee. If you were referred by a friend who has a poor work history, you might be better off not mentioning them at all. The company you keep says a lot about you. If your friend is a bit of a slacker, leave their name out of the equation.
5. Be cordial and show gratitude
This goes without saying but be polite and show a bit of gratitude. A simple “thank you” goes a long way. Show your future boss that you’re thankful for the opportunity. No matter how formal or informal your interaction may be, always end with a sincere thank you.
This is expected, so giving one won’t impress your interviewer or help you stand out from the other candidates. But not giving one is a surefire way to create a bad impression and stand out for all the wrong reasons.
First impressions are everything. Your résumé and application are the true first impression, but once you’re granted an interview, the real test begins.
Related: 5 Tips to Nail That Job Interview
The goal is to make the boss or interviewer excited to meet you before the interview even starts. If you make a good impression on the phone or through email correspondence, you’ll be able to get a leg up on the competition. Keep these five tips in mind and you’re much more likely to land the job!
Find more interview advice in our Internships and Careers section.