For our very first Five on Friday (FoF), I asked the hiring manager advisory council the following question:

What one thing has a candidate done to really impress you in an interview?

The first theme you’ll notice is that hiring managers expect you to be prepared. Preparing for your interview is crucial to success. The second theme is about follow up. It’s an art that is lost on many. I can’t count the number of times people interviewed with me, or met me at a networking event and wanted a job, and didn’t follow up. Here are five (plus my) of their best answers:

Phil: The candidate did research on the company, and actually approached a current employee, asked a few questions. They were better prepared for the interview. By showing initiative they were quickly short listed for the position.

Sydney:  The candidate used the “what questions do you have?” part of the phone interview to ask what I thought the biggest challenges this position would have in the first 6 months, and what the low hanging fruit would be. For the in person interview, the candidate had a 30-60-90 rough plan of how to tackle the challenges and get the quick wins. The plans were decent, considering the lack of specific knowledge, but really showed both research on the company and industry knowledge.

Andy: I had a candidate create a handout on the history of the company and the evolution of the industry as it pertained to our company. He was hired and is now a VP of marketing for that company.

Bruce: The candidate sent a hand written thank you note – short and relevant. (Mike’s note: funny story, Bruce was once my boss, this might the shortest answer he’s ever given!)

Aimee: A thank you note and follow-up. It shows true interest. With multiple qualified candidates it helped swing my decision on who to hire.

My answer: I think the most impressive thing for me was when a candidate researched not just the company, but my management style. He had some specific questions based on what he’d been able to gather from people that worked with me. It was clear that he wanted a particular kind of boss….

What has most impressed you in an interview? Let us know in the comments, or email us. We’ll create a post from the best answers so everyone can see them.