Your resume got you in the door, now what? Interviewing requires thoughtful preparation. Winging it simply won’t work. Follow these steps to improve your odds of getting an offer.
1. Know when the interview begins. The interview begins with the first contact you make with a company representative. This could be the administrative assistant who schedules your interview or the receptionist at the front lobby. Each will be evaluating you. Sometimes you may not even know when the interview begins. Take Elysa Rice for example, who landed a job after tweeting during a panel at the South By Southwest conference. A week after the conference she received a message via LinkedIn asking if she’d be interested in interviewing for an open Community Manager position. After agreeing to the interview, she learned the interviewer discovered her via her Twitter conversations at the conference. He spent a few days viewing her online engagement skills related to the job he was hiring her for. So, essentially Rice was being ‘interviewed’ before she even knew about the position.
2. Do your homework. With so much information available on the internet, there is no excuse for not being fully informed about what the company does, the markets it serves and its competition. Check out Google Blog Search to find out what is trending about the company. Review Glassdoor, which has over 270,000 company reviews and 13,000 interview reviews and questions. Use LinkedIn to ‘follow’ your company and gain access to profiles of people who have previously worked for the company. These folks are much more likely to be candid about their experience than a current employee. Contact them for insider information before your interview.
3. Analyze the job description. Identify key requirements including skills and competencies, and build your accomplishment stories around these to demonstrate why you are the best fit for the job. Your stories should be structured around the C. A. R. format. C.A.R. stands for: Challenge, Action, Result. What challenge or problem were you faced with? What action steps or decisions did you make? What were the results? The results should be quantifiable showing how you made or saved the company money; or how you expanded the business. CAR stories should include specific examples.
4. Pay attention to body language. 80% of our communication is non-verbal. How you say it can actually have more of an impact than what you say in an interview. Things like hand gestures, tone of voice, eye contact and facial expression can either make or break an interview. Pacing your interviewer is a good idea so your body language does not overpower theirs. This is particularly important if you ‘talk with your hands’. Introverts who have difficulty making eye contact should look their interviewer in the eyes when beginning a point; then, look just below the eyes or to one side of the nose. Then finish by looking the person in the eyes again at the end of their statement.
5. Always follow up. Following up is not only the polite thing to do; it shows your interest and gives you another chance to market yourself. Perhaps there was a point you forgot to make during your interview or an interview question you could have answered differently. The follow up note is the perfect place to address such things. Email is acceptable. A hand written note is best depending on time constraints.
Remember interviewing is an art not a science. It is highly subjective. You may be the best fit technically for the job but if you cannot connect with the person on the other side of the desk, your interview will have been in vain. Establishing rapport is a key component of a successful interview. Good Luck! Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Luncheon interviews have the advantage of allowing you to build rapport with your interviewer in a more informal setting. However, the lunch interview has its own set of pitfalls which you must be aware of if you are to master this type of interview. While the goal of any interview is to determine fit and technical qualifications, the lunch interview is all about your social skills. Here are 7 tips to help you avoid any awkward missteps and ace the interview.
1. Do your research. Your focus should be on getting the job; therefore you don’t want to be stressing about the venue and what meal to order. Look up the restaurant’s website and familiarize yourself with the menu ahead of time. Check out the dress code and setting too. That way, you can focus on being social during your interview and not be fretting about what to order.
2. Let your host take the lead. Not sure what to order. Ask your host for menu favorites. Use the suggestions to determine a safe price range. If your host recommends the Coquet St Jacque you can feel safe ordering something a little more expensive. Remember you are juggling eating and talking, so order something that is not messy and something that you can easily and gracefully eat with a knife and fork. In other words stay away from spaghetti, spareribs and big fat sloppy sandwiches.
3. Choosing beverages. Your interviewer is likely to let you order first. Whatever you do, stay away from alcoholic beverages. Instead, consider either sparkling water or ice tea. Both are grown up and non-alcoholic.
4. If you have a portfolio. If you have a resume or other documents you want to share mention that you have them up front and drop the subject. Let the interviewer decide when to bring them out. Typically after the plates have been cleared is a good time.
5. Remember your table etiquette. This interview is all about social skills and a great time to remember all those table manners your mom drilled into you. So, don’t talk with your mouth full. Don’t put your elbows on the table. And, use a napkin. Eating small bites that you can easily chew is also advised.
6. Treat your servers with respect. Always be polite to the servers even if your meal is not up to par. The way you treat your servers says tons about your character. If something isn’t quite right, let it go. This meal is not about the food, it’s about how well you conduct yourself in a public setting.
7. Closing the meal. When you are finished with your meal fold your napkin and leave it by your plate. You are not responsible for the tab. Remember you were invited! Graciously let the interviewer pick up the tab. Of course, remember to mention the meal in your thank you note.
A lunch interview requires that you juggle a meal, good manners and answer interview questions persuasively. You will be evaluated on several fronts including your technical competencies and social acumen. It may require more preparation than you think. Don’t be caught off guard. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
When it comes to organizing your job search, the days of 3 ring binders and Excel spreadsheets are gone. What tools are you using and how are they working for you? If you are spending more time looking for your networking notes than networking, something’s not working.
With so many web based tools available there is no excuse not to try them out and get your job search under control. One web based tool that I particularly like is JibberJobber. This is a Personal Relationship Manager for your career, as Jason Alba, CEO and Founder explains. It allows you to manage and track all of your job search activity, networking contacts and other career management information. Because it is web based, you always have access to it, now and during your next career transition.
I particularly like the fact that it allows you to track all of the information you collect during a job search.You can log where you have sent resumes as well as the status of each job as you go through the hiring process. It even allows you to develop and save all of your interview preparation material including resumes, power statements and accomplishment stories for interviews.
I also like the fact that JibberJobber allows you to manage and track critical relationship information over time including company and network contact information. Because all of your information is web based it is easily accessible and prevents you from having to start from scratch when you launch your next job search. It nicely allows you to import all of your LinkedIn contacts. You can rank relationships, log notes about your relationships, create action items and tie each to companies. Most of these features are not available on LinkedIn.
Best of all, the basic version of JibberJobber is free. The premium version offers a few bells and whistles like expense tracking. However, I find the basic version is powerful enough for anyone who is easily overwhelmed by managing their job search. Give it a try! Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
If your resume is only focused on the past, chances are your phone is not ringing off the hook for interview invitations. No one is interested in reading line after line of boring job assignments. Having said that, you still want to highlight your accomplishments from past positions but describe them in a way that positions you to take on your next challenge. Let me give you an example:
Let’s say you are an IT manager with 15 years of work experience who is ready to make your next career move to CTO. Maybe you haven’t held that title to date but you have managed multiple IT disciplines such as wireless communications, cloud computing, financial services networks and technology evaluation. In addition you have worked at several start-ups, taking each through IPO…accomplishments that would certainly impress an employer looking to hire a CTO.
Your resume must be ‘forward focused’. What I mean by ‘forward focused’ is, it should emphasize how your experience has prepared you for your next career step. Ask yourself the following questions before you begin writing:
1. Who are you now?
2. Who do you want to become?
You will want to position your resume in a way that markets you for your job target rather than focusing on those aspects of your experience that will just get you more of the same. In the case of our example, our IT Manager should present herself as ‘CTO ready’ otherwise she will just be targeting more IT Manager jobs.
The concept of developing a forward focused resume also applies to your LinkedIn profile or any other on-line bio you may choose to write. Taking this approach will prevent your marketing material from looking like a job graveyard. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
While phone interviews may be the norm, more companies are starting to use video interviews to screen applicants. If you are applying for a position requiring crisp presentation skills you will need to be well prepared for the video interview. Here are some tips that will help.
1. Evaluate your space. Make sure your workspace is uncluttered so that nothing detracts from your video presentation. Pay particular attention to the space behind you. Too many pictures on the wall or a cluttered bookcase can be a distraction.
2. Do a dry run. Ideally, do a practice video session the day before your interview at the same time of day as your scheduled interview. This will help you determine proper lighting for your video session. Do this with your coach or a good friend. Check all equipment to be sure it is working properly. You don’t want any mishaps on the day of your interview.
3. Be aware of lighting and angles. Lighting is important. Adjust lighting so that it is neither too bright nor too dark. The former can wash out your face and cause a distracting glare. Too little light and your face will appear obscure and difficult to see. It is best if the light comes from behind the camera. Angle the webcam so your head and shoulders are in the same frame. Place the interviewer’s window directly below the webcam so your eyes will naturally look in the direction of the interviewer’s window. Experiment ahead of time with your practice coach to get angles and lighting correct.
4. Eliminate potential interruptions. If kids and pets are in the house, arrange for someone to look after them. Close windows if there is a lot of street noise or barking dogs. You don’t want any outside distractions to detract from your video presentation.
5. Check your attire. Dress professionally as you would if you were going to meet with the interviewer in person. Avoid dressing from the ‘waist up’ only. When you dress professionally you will come across that way in your interview. Besides, if you have to suddenly get up for some reason your shorts or jeans will not project the type of image you had intended! Avoid patterns and plaids. Stick with solid colors if possible. Beware of white shirts and blouses as they can overpower the screen and your appearance.
6. Be aware of glasses. If possible avoid wearing them as they have the tendency to reflect. If you absolutely have to wear glasses try projecting light off to one side if you see any glare on the screen.
7. Don a little makeup. This applies to guys too! Light can reflect off the oils on your face. Try using a light, translucent powder.
There you go. Video interviews take a different type of planning than conventional face to face interviews. However if you practice ahead of time, making sure your equipment is functioning and your setting is adjusted, you will be ready to give it your best. Good luck. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.