Many qualified candidates miss the opportunity to land their dream promotion because they are under-prepared for their interview. Focusing on the basics such as being on time, dressing appropriately, and customizing your resume is important, but alone will not set you apart from other applicants applying for the job. According to an article in the New York Times by Michael Luo, in today’s economy job seekers out number job openings 5-1. As a result, the majority of job seekers are applying for jobs in which they are overqualified.
As a young professional in the business world, you are often competing against candidates with more years of experience. Your focus needs to shift from your resume to your interview. The interview is where you will have approximately 30 minutes to sell yourself. People hire people they like, so what you say is nearly as important as who you know.
Here are 3 tips that will help you stand out from the pack at your next interview:
#1) Contact the employee who previously held the position you are applying for to get a detailed job description and insights. Nearly every manager is looking to hire someone who can transition effortlessly into their open position, especially in a traditional corporate environment. The Wall Street Journal reports that the average cost of hiring a new employee is $4,000. Most hiring managers pay more attention to candidates with related work experience and those that demonstrate that they are a quick learners. By taking the initiative to reach out to the previous position holder you can better demonstrate how your skills will allow you to easily transition into the position and improve upon the services performed by the previous job holder. Having specific ideas of how you can enhance the services performed in the position will help compensate for any lack of experience. Your goal is not to put down the previous position holder, but rather to specifically identify things you could do differently that would benefit the company if you are offered the position.
#2) Bring multiple copies of your resume to the interview. Have you ever had the misfortune of printing documents for a meeting, only to arrive at the meeting and realize you did not make enough copies? Advising you to bring copies of your resume might seem rhetorical, but as someone who has conducted interviews it is shocking how many people do not bring a single resume to their interview. Bring your resume, on resume paper, and bring at least three copies to the interview (it is not safe to assume only one person will interview you). Taking the time and effort to do so will demonstrate to the hiring manager that you are a detail-oriented person who prepares for the unexpected.
#3) Google yourself and the hiring manager. It is very important to Google yourself before any interview because you never know what will pop up in a search. Be on the look out for anything that could potentially reflect negatively on you. In the event you can’t delete or remove items you find from the search, at least you will not be surprised during your interview and can be prepared to speak to any questions raised. Googling your hiring manager is your opportunity to find a nugget of information that you can weave into the interview. This could be a compliment you offer about an article you read online. Or maybe you find out your hiring manger went to your Alma Mater. Try and find common ground with the hiring manager so that they have something to relate to you or remember you by.
Good look with your next interview. If you have additional comments or questions, please post them and we can dialogue.