Before I hired team leads for each division, followed by a Head of Recruiting for our company, I was directly involved in the interview process in every department. I was interviewing everyone, from summer interns to full stack developers. My schedule was often packed, so I would sometimes ask candidates curveball questions to see how they would respond.
Hundreds of interviews over the past year revealed a few clues I would later use to build out a hiring template for my recruiters. I have written specific tips for interns before, but I have added some specific tips for anyone who needs an extra edge during the interview process:
Remain Calm Under Pressure. It’s fine to answer a question with a simple “I don’t know.” I admire candidates who own up to their limits instead of filibustering until I switch questions. Remain calm by giving straightforward answers. Rambling off-topic answers tells me you are nervous and on the verge of panic. Sometimes I like to throw curveball questions which are irrelevant to the candidate’s role just to see how they handle being ill-prepared. Those candidates who answer honestly get an extra point in my book.
Be Enthusiastic. Professionalism is always preferred, but professionalism is not synonymous with blandness. Don’t be afraid to show enthusiasm during your interview. Be enthusiastic about yourself, skills, talents, past accomplishments, projects, the role, and the prospects of joining the team. Nothing makes my day more than seeing a candidate get overly excited at the potential opportunity to join our team. Smile, laugh, and get excited!
Land a Firm Handshake. Jack Donaghy’s principles in NBC’s 30Rock satirized the power-suiting, power-lunching business world of finance, yet Jack’s business rules are inspired by real-world professionalism and based on sound science. Next to dressing well, the first impression begins with a solid handshake. An appropriate handshake is firm and starts with your hand slightly turned inwards. An inappropriate handshake is sloppy, weak, and uncomfortably sweaty. Refusing to shake hands (which has happened to me!) is a great way to end an interview before it begins.
Do Your Homework and Be Curious. Researching a company before your interview is important, and candidates who dive deep into a company can earn extra points in an interview. However, it may be difficult to find information on a small, private company as compared to a huge Fortune 100 company that is in the news weekly. If you are struggling to uncover anything on the company, become curious. Focus your questions on how the company has overcome any hurdles or how the team plans to tackle certain challenges. I love answering questions on my managing philosophy or how we plan to take the company to the next level.
About the Author: David Adams is the CEO and founder of 2nd Address, an online rental marketplace and licensed broker of month to month furnished rentals between tenants and landlords based in San Francisco. Connect with him on twitter at @dmadams28.