5 Philly Hiring Managers on How to Nail Your Next Job Interview

Preparing for the big day? These local recruitment experts share their best new tips and tricks to help you feel confident and land the job.

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There’s not one right way to prepare for a job interview, but according to Philly hiring managers, there are things you should definitely be doing on the lead up to the big day. For example, it’s common to hear “do your research,” but what should that actually look like? And did you know that the job interview really starts the moment you submit an application? Five Philly recruitment experts weigh on what you should do to build confidence and get that job.

What It Really Means to “Do Your Research”

Research! Research! Research! I can’t stress how important it is for interview candidates to do their homework on not only the company but also on the interviewers. On the scheduling call, don’t be afraid to ask questions like, “Who will I be meeting with?” and “What will the interview process look like?” The more information you armed with, the more prepared and confident you will be for any questions they throw at you. Doing your homework highlights core competencies interviewers look for such as organization skills, passion, and excitement. Also, take time beforehand to prepare questions for each interviewer you will be meeting with and have a notepad to take notes on. -Melissa Richardson, hiring manager, Deacom

Research the company, more than you did when you applied to them. Companies want to hire candidates who are truly interested in working for their organization, and researching the company shows that genuine interest. There is so much information out there, but make sure you start at a company’s website. Read their press releases, go through their financials and understand their core business. Research what trends are happening within the industry that could impact their organization. Then go out online and learn about the company’s culture and what current and former employees say about working there, and what customers say about them. If you know who you are interviewing with, research them and the experience they have. -Michael Patschke, vice president of Talent Acquisition, Toll Brothers

It takes a hiring manager roughly 10 minutes to form an opinion on a job seeker during an interview. Knowing that, preparation is key as you want to make the best first impression possible. Our best piece of advice is to prepare to showcase your best pieces of work in the initial stages of the interview to stand out. In addition, always know about the company you are interviewing with and who you’ll be speaking with – that research is invaluable and will help in making a good first impression. -Brittany Pipa, branch manager, Robert Half Technology in Philadelphia

Review the job description, company website, LinkedIn profiles of interviewers and employees, Glassdoor reviews, etc. Use online search engines to seek information about current news, relevant business trends and topics involving the company. Leverage your LinkedIn connections and current employees to gain additional company insights, including deeper understanding of the business, challenges, opportunities, strengths and recent successes. Be prepared to answer experience-based and behavioral-based interview questions. The company will focus on learning more about how you handled various work situations and what business outcomes you delivered in the past. It is also a great practice for you to be prepared with questions to ask the interviewers to learn more about the company, the people, how they operate and how you might best contribute. -Etana Pizzo, University Program & Talent Pipeline Lead, Campbell Soup Company

Research for Fit

Remember, the candidate is also interviewing the company, so the research gives you the opportunity to determine, is this where I want to work and spend 40+ hours a week? You need to decide, is this the best company and position for me? -Michael Patschke

Be sure to research the company thoroughly first and ask yourself whether the brand’s mission and core values align with yours. At Saxbys, we hire first and foremost based on whether a candidate shares our core values. We’re not just looking for talent that is knowledgeable about the culture, but also who exemplifies it and lives it day in and day out. – Kristi Saeger, director of recruiting, Saxbys

Business Formal or Business Casual?

The rules of dress code for an interview have changed dramatically in the last few years. The traditional suit is still relevant for some industries, but other companies have a more relaxed dress code. Learn about the company culture to help you decide what to wear. Business professional or business casual are the best attire options to help you with your one chance to make a first impression! -Etana Pizzo

I suggest dressing a step above what you think the company’s dress code is. For corporate or office positions, I always advise friends to dress business professional, even though the environment might be business casual. For the first face-to-face interview, it is better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. If during that first interview, you notice the company’s dress code is more business casual, then go business casual for the next set of interviews. I doubt anyone has ever said, “I’m not hiring that person because they wore a suit.” For those positions that work in more of a relaxed, casual attire environment, I’d suggest at least starting the interview process dressed as business casual. – Michael Patschke

Interview attire depends on the company you are meeting with. When scheduling the interview, be sure to ask what the expected attire is and then dress accordingly. Some companies prefer that you attend the interview in business professional attire while others want you to feel comfortable. No matter what your clothing choices are, be sure to put your best foot forward and try to restrain yourself from reaching for those ripped jeans and flip flops for the big day. You are still making a first impression, so I would still highly recommend combing your hair that day. – Melissa Richardson

We always say, “When in doubt, dress up.” Wear outfits that fit well and don’t wear anything that is torn or faded. Try to avoid loud patterns or distracting accessories. You don’t want your wardrobe choice to be the primary takeaway from the interview. -Brittany Pipa

Always dress your best for an interview and be mindful of hygiene! Business professional or business casual depending on the company culture. It never hurts to ask your recruiter to confirm recommended attire in advance. That said, also be sure to wear something you’re comfortable in. You’ll feel more confident and be able to focus on the conversation versus your appearance. -Kristi Saeger

Asking Questions Is Key

Aside from the obvious – doing your homework and being prepared – one piece of advice we always give to job seekers is to be confident and be prepared to ask questions to the hiring manager. The interview is intended so they can get to know you better and if you fit the role they are seeking to fill. But it is also a great opportunity for you to ask important questions that will indicate whether this current opening is a good fit for you. -Brittany Pipa

Ask questions, including: How do you see my experience complementing the existing team? What is the top priority for the person coming into this role? Also ask about timing and next steps in the process. Finally, show up energetic and positive to convey your enthusiasm for the role! -Etana Pizzo

Final Thoughts

Be yourself, breathe, and relax. There is a reason for an interview process: to help both you and the interviewer figure out if this can be the right fit. Don’t try to sell yourself as something you aren’t or get so caught up in the “right thing to say” because you don’t know what responses the interviewer is looking for. We are trained in our craft and we can see right through responses that are disingenuous. And remember that just as we are interviewing you, you are interviewing us. Make sure you dig deep into the conversations to make sure this is the right position and company for your next career move. -Melissa Richardson

The interview actually started when you applied. What behaviors have you been showing the company? For example, how quickly did you call them back when they left you a voicemail telling you they were interested in starting the conversation? How easy was it to set up an interview? How did you treat the receptionist when you were greeted at the front desk? Did you prepare questions to ask the interviewer? Did you send a simple thank you after the interview? Companies aren’t just making a decision based on how you answered questions in an interview. They are evaluating how you were throughout the entire process. -Michael Patschke

Always be prepared to be yourself! While it is important to speak to your experience in an interview, it is likely that your interviewers have already reviewed your credentials prior to your meeting. At Saxbys, we view an in-person interview as an opportunity to get to know you, your passions, and how those things connect you to the role. Don’t discount the small things like a handshake, eye contact, and thoughtful questions that reflect your interests and your personality. -Kristi Saeger