You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Everything’s an interview.” It may sound oversimplified, but it’s true. Every interaction you have during the interview process can affect whether or not you progress to the next stage. Things that may not seem like a big deal at the time, like how you format your resume or how well you communicate during scheduling, can actually say a lot about you.

Your interview doesn’t start once you sit down in front of a hiring manager – it starts as soon as you submit your application. Let’s break down the basics to make sure you set yourself up for success.

Clean up your resume

Your resume is the first thing a potential employer will use to assess your capabilities. While the content of your resume may be most relevant, how your resume looks matters too. If the formatting is inconsistent with rogue spacing and misaligned bullet points, the hiring manager may think you don’t pay attention to details. If it’s excessively long, they may think you struggle to write concisely. If a candidate applies to detail-oriented role with a messy resume (ex. Chief of Staff, Operations, Executive Assistant), that alone can turn a candidate down.

Hiring managers spend very little time with each resume, so it should be crisp, clean, and easy to read. (To clean up your resume content and formatting, click here to read our top resume tips and download our preferred resume template).

Communicate politely and promptly

Some of you may think this is a given… but not every candidate responds to interview requests. We know life gets busy, but responding to interview requests not only shows that you’re organized but also signals you’re respectful of the hiring team’s time.

All communication with employers should check these marks:

  1. Prompt reply – You have 24-72 hours MAX to respond. If you know you’re going out of town or will be offline, turn on your out of office and list your cell phone number.
  2. Respectful and polite – Hiring someone is hard for the employer too, so signal to them that you appreciate their time and that you’re excited to be interviewing with them.
  3. Update them on your search –  If your job search changes and you want to withdraw, send emails to any employer you had spoken to. (Please don’t ghost them!)

If you’re using a job matching platform or recruiter, who is advocating on your behalf to help land you interviews, these points are especially important. If a candidate applies to roles that require them to be a great communicator, ignoring emails or responding exceptionally slowly signals they can be unreliable and unorganized.

Even if you’ve since decided you’re no longer interested in interviewing, reply to them nonetheless. It’s a respectful thing to do, and the world is small. You don’t want to risk burning a bridge you haven’t even built yet.

Also read: What are Soft Skills and Why are They Important?

Meet deadlines

Similar to communicating effectively, it’s important to try and meet deadlines a potential employer sets for you. If they ask you to submit a take-home assessment, budget your time and finish it as soon as you can. Completing a project will show you’re excited about the role and you’re on top of your work. If you need to ask for an extension because of extenuating circumstances, do so as soon as you can and provide a new suggested deadline. (The rules from #2 still apply here.)

Know your audience

If you’re invited for an in-house interview, do some research on their company culture so you can present accordingly. If you want to double check, feel free to ask your interviewer or recruiter about their company dress code. Certain companies are really casual in the office these days (Team Scouted is routinely in jeans and t-shirts), but plenty of them (like financial services and consulting firms) are looking for polished candidates.

Knowing your audience is good for first impressions, but it also may be an important part of the job. If you’re interviewing for a client-facing role, showing up late, disheveled, and underdressed are hard no-gos. Even if you rock your interview questions, how you present yourself is sometimes half the battle. If you’re struggling with knowing what you should wear to your next interview check out this blog: How to Dress for a Job Interview.

Overall, when in doubt, try to put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. Be courteous, go the extra mile, and treat them like a real person, because, well, they are. Remember to always do your homework, show up prepared, and keep the lines of communication open throughout the hiring process. Follow these tips and we know you’ll do your best to land the job of your dreams.