Hand buzzer in job interview handshakeEarlier in my career I found myself sitting in a corporate office, replete with clichéd leather couches, anxiously awaiting the start of my interview for a communications role. Trying to relax, I forced myself to stop going over questions and answers in my head and instead just enjoy the view from the 35th floor window. I had prepared. This interview was going to be cake.

But when the executive director walked in, the first thing he said, in a somewhat exasperated tone was, “Who the f–k are you?!”

Though taken aback (hey, who wouldn’t be?), I responded without missing a beat: “Well, sir…I’m the candidate you’re interviewing for the f–king VP position!”

Talk about your dramatic introductions! However, not only didn’t the interviewer throw me out of his office, but he seemed roused by the fact that I was willing to meet him head to head.

Granted, I don’t expect anyone reading this to walk into their next interview a la Al Pacino. Because, even in this particular episode, my display of spunk was not enough, on its own, to win the brass ring. No, some more influential strategy was necessary…

Here’s what I did that got me hired:

First, I completed an impromptu assignment.

I followed up on a concern that my interviewer had voiced during the interview (In my case, it was writing a report on an important trend then happening in the industry). I did the necessary research and in the course of doing so, I picked up all kinds of information (facts and figures I would not have paid much attention to unless I had given myself the assignment). I included these findings and insights, as well as my own conclusions, in the report I subsequently submitted.

By doing all of this I demonstrated a) my special interest in the job; b) my understanding of the company’s concerns; c) my ability to problem-solve; d) my notable research and writing skills; and e) my proactive work ethic. Needless to say, the company was impressed.

Next, I learned as much as possible about people in the organization.

During that job interview, I was made cognizant of the names of several people within the organization. With that information in hand I proceeded to learn as much as I could about them. I searched out their professional and academic backgrounds, as well as what and how their current presence within the company fitted in with the establishment’s overall goals. (The company website and LinkedIn were good starting places for investigation.) Some of these individuals had blog sites and other social-networking accounts. I sought these out and left thoughtful comments where appropriate.

This further testified to my singular interest in the company. It also confirmed my proficiency with social media—a much admired and sought-after piece of know-how in today’s workplace (as I’m sure you know).

Resume Deli offers a jarringly realistic mock interview program and career counseling to help you perform optimally during job interviews and networking meetings. We’ll make you sweat a bit, but you’ll be ready for the big show!