With the job market looking brighter, some seasoned professionals are resurrecting their jobs search across the nation. It’s vital to prepare not only your résumé, but hone your interview presentation skills as well.
Too often candidates spend hours reworking their résumés to secure the interview for a key position and neglect the due diligence in preparing for the interview itself. If you are looking to impress the hiring manager for a coveted position in your next interview, keeping the following tips in mind might help you present yourself as a top candidate and secure a position.
Interview preparation tips to help you secure a position.
The hiring manager has some key points they are trying to evaluate for each candidate and has chosen specific questions in which to do so. Too often candidates come in the room and do all the talking, not allowing the interviewer to get a word in edgewise. Breathe. Relax. Most importantly…Listen. Let the interviewer ask the question then succinctly answer that specific question to the best of your ability.
Do not go off on tangents
This is a key complaint from many interviewers. If the interviewer asks you what time it is, do not tell him how to make the watch. If the employer does not feel like you are giving pointed answers to his questions in a clear and concise manner, they may come to the conclusion that you will not follow directions. Just answer the questions you have been asked. More isn’t always better, especially in an interview with the hiring manager has little time and is looking for an efficient, effective addition to his team.
Employers do not like surprises. Be upfront about your education, employment and background. Today’s companies are savvy and check this vital information. Too often candidates try to embellish criteria in an effort to secure a position, but in reality, it backfires. Always be honest. If you have not acquired a certain certification, be open about it and express willingness to get additional training.
That's great, but how do I get an interview?
Before you impress the hiring manager with your interview skills, you have to actually get the interview. Here are a few quick tips to help you pre-interview.
- Update your résumé. Your résumé needs to be two pages or less and needs to account for all of your working years after you graduated high school or college. You also need to account for the years that you were out of the workforce, whether it is because you were a stay-at-home parent, took time off to travel or for other reasons. Employers want to know this, but keep it brief.
- Create or update your LinkedIn profile. If you do not already have a LinkedIn profile, you need to create one. This will allow you to set up a profile and list all of your experience or update your experience if you are already a member. Most importantly, it will allow you to connect with people from your past who may lead you to your next position.
- Make a list of everyone who you know in your city, both professionally and personally. Start with past co-workers and former supervisors and then work your way down the list to include those individuals who you know from church, your community, friends, neighbors and family. Begin to connect with these individuals on LinkedIn and let them know that you are looking and would be grateful if they kept you in mind as they hear of job opportunities in your field.
- Contact your professional references. As you interview for positions, you will need to provide at least two professional references. These need to be individuals who have supervised your work in the past. It is better for you to dust off the professional references that you have used in the past, reach out to them to get their permission to use them as a reference again and have their contact information ready to send versus waiting until you are far along in the interview process to reconnect with your references. It may take a while for you to find their current information and hear back from them, so start this process now. Who knows? They may want to hire you again.
- Be realistic about your salary expectations. If you have been out of the workforce for more than a couple of years, you need to be realistic about your salary expectations. Most fields constantly change. If you haven’t worked in your chosen field for a few years, your worth to the market has decreased. Don’t let this discourage you. Just understand that you are probably not going to get paid what you were making when you left your field, and set your expectations accordingly.
Today’s market is filled with qualified candidates. Take the time to prepare for your interview so you can present yourself and your abilities in the best light and secure a position.
Still want more? Read "Interview Tips for the Candidate" for a list of interview tips.