Nail the interview: advice from an expert

Gwen Hix

Gwen Hix has lots of tips on how to nail your interview– and land your next job offer.

We all want to know the best way to get a job– and Gwen Hix of Pathfinders Inc. is definitely someone with the inside track on the ever-elusive how.

Hix has been in the recruiting industry for 32 years with Pathfinders Inc.,  a recruiting firm exclusively in the metro Atlanta market specializing in the recruitment and placement of candidates in permanent careers for administrative and executive support roles.  She leads business development for Pathfinders and and works with clients across many industries. Gwen was invited to join The Pinnacle Society in 2000, an organization of top recruiters in the country, and was a founding member of the Million Dollar Hall of Fame for The Georgia Association of Personnel Services ( GAPS ) in 1991. Additionally, she has earned billings awards through GAPS every year since the inception of the awards in 1985.She places over 100 people a year in the careers of their dreams — and if you follow her advice you may be next.

Your first impression is key. 

“A lot of the decision to hire or not is made within the first seven seconds,” says Gwen. It’s hard to un-do whatever happens during your interview in the first seven seconds but luckily this is all in your hands. The first impression an interviewer will have of you is mostly non-verbal. This includes attire, greeting, warm smile, firm handshake, and eye contact. Don’t have a suit? Time to hit up Banana Republic! “Always wear a suit. Your competition will be wearing one. If you think you are too hip or that times have changed you are going to look like the candidate that doesn’t get the job,” says Gwen.Don’t (just) rely on your resume. 
The resume is the door opener, but the connection you make during the interview is what will get you the job. “Your resume should serve as a marketing tool rather than an autobiography,” says Gwen. People by nature scan rather than read resumes, so if they can’t find what they want right away they move on. Make sure you zero in on what is meaningful to the interviewer in your resume so your job-specific qualifications will jump at them. This will most likely mean tweaking your resume for specific jobs and learning to market your past experiences for different job opportunities.

Gwen also suggests you pretend that your resume is not part of the equation during the interview and focus on connecting rather than impressing. “If all things are equal and all people interviewing are quasi-qualified, the person who is going to get the job is the person who does the best interview,” says Gwen.

Answer questions directly. 
When asked a direct question, answer first and then provide the supporting information — kind of like the age-old topic sentence, then add supporting sentences formula from the elementary school essay writing days. If you were terminated from your last job, answer first with “yes” and then give supporting information; if you start with an excuse the interviewer will just be wondering what the answer is rather than listening. Answering questions directly, however, does not mean that an interview should be just Q&A. In fact, Gwen encourages interviewees to be conversant. “If the interview turns to more of a conversation—that’s a good thing. Never say ‘now, back to my resume.’ It’s a turn off. The interviewer is running the show,” says Gwen.

Ask for the job!
Don’t be afraid to ask for the job at the end of the interview; you won’t look desperate and it may actually impress. Gwen suggests that you express your enthusiasm for the position in a way that the interviewer can see you in the role. For example: “I am so excited about this opportunity and I can see myself being very happy here.”  Don’t end your interview with “thank you for your time.”

Be thankful.
Gwen suggests that after you get home from an interview, immediately send out a thank you email followed up by a written thank you note. “The email is strictly a preliminary thank you because you are so excited about the opportunity; include in the email that you will be following up with a written thank you note,” says Gwen. Thank you notes are important no matter what, but when it comes to nailing the job it’s key.

Not quite sure how to format your thanks? Gwen says a written thank you note should be formatted as follows:

  1. Thank You
  2. This is why I’d be a good fit for the company.
  3. Why I think your company would be a good fit for me.
  4. Sign off!


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