So, here we are with another school year almost gone and the time many new job candidates enter the pool of potential employees. Now whether you are a seasoned career veteran looking for a change of scenery or a recent graduate just entering the work force, one thing is for sure, you will have to get prepared for the interview process.
Over my years as both a hiring employer and a job candidate I have had my fair share of great interviews… and I’ve had those that have gone terribly, terribly wrong. One interview that comes to mind is when I was asked why I wanted to work at this particular place of employment, my most poignant answer to that was ‘It’s so close to my house!’ I mean really? What was I thinking?! Yeah I was nervous, but this was a classic case of being unprepared. I was dreadfully embarrassed afterwards – and wouldn’t you know it, no call back for a second interview.
Lidia Siino (a fellow ABC Blogger) recently wrote ‘Why your Résumé STILL sucks!’ and she was right, résumés get you the interview. Once you get the interview, then what? Speaking from a hiring employers perspective, there are three parts to an interview: preparation before the interview, the interview and the follow-up.
Before The Interview
Do get familiar with the company. With the powers of social media and the web there is no excuse for not knowing an organization inside and out. Get onto the company website, research employees on LinkedIn, do everything you can think of to get to know the business.
Don’t just research what the company does; figure out how you fit into their specific needs and what you can bring to the table. I cannot stress this enough – ok, you can produce a recommended digital strategy for me. So what? Why are you different? How can you help me?
Do a self evaluation based on the job description and requirements. What are you good at, what do you lack, what have you had experience in? This will not only help you get prepared to answer these types of question, it will help you take it a step further and tailor those answers to specifically talk about how you will contribute to the company.
Do prepare answers for the most common questions asked: Tell me about yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why do you want to work here (from my example, you can see why this would be important)? Ok, no one wants to sound scripted, but if you are little nervous (and we all get that way), having an idea of what you want to convey could help you from drawing a blank, or in my case giving a ridiculous answer.
During The Interview
Do listen carefully. The worst thing you could do is not listen to a question and start going off with an answer that is completely irrelevant. Show that you can listen and interpret what the interviewer is asking of you. And if you don’t understand, ask for clarification.
Don’t be modest. This is your time to shine! Don’t hold back. If you have relevant experience and accomplishments be sure to bring them up.
Do be brief and honest with your answers. By keeping answers short you have less of a risk of saying something that will hurt your chances of getting the position. Stick to the facts and be as direct as possible.
Do have a list of questions to ask the interviewer. Nothing shows interest more than asking questions. But, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves… it’s probably a good idea to refrain from asking about benefits or salary during your first meeting.
Do follow up with an email. Thank the interviewer for their time and reiterate points from the interview about how you would be a great fit within the organization.
Don’t follow up with an email… then a phone call… then another email… then a stop in at the office. That’s creepy and needy and is a sure fire way to throw your chances of being awarded the position.
At the end of the day, you will go to more interviews than you will receive actual job offers. But, think of it this way: the more interviews you go to, the better you become in them. It’s just a matter of time before the offer is on the table!
– Jen Elson
Business – Marketing (Co-op) ‘10
Follow Jen @JenJeae