The Interview: Dos and Donts

Well, now you’ve reached the point in your job search where you finally have an interview!

When you sit down with the hiring manager,  that’s where you confirm if this opportunity is really what you want  and — they see if you are what they want.  Even after the best of preparation, there are a number of things that you have to do and don’t do.

Do

* Make eye contact and give a firm handshake.

* Read everything you can about the company in advance and know as much as you can about the position you are interviewing for.

* Provide a BRIEF introduction. Be prepared for the question: “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” – tell interviewer who you are, your role, what you like about your job and/or the company, what you want to cover in the interview.

* Find something about the interviewer that interests you and ask them about it.

* Give specific examples of your work.

* Ask follow up questions.

* Take good notes.  And do it right after the interview when it’s fresh.

* Make every interviewer feel engaged and important.  The job might not be the perfect fit, but good interviews lead to good things. A compliment wouldn’t hurt.

* Prepare a great final question.

* Ask about next steps – how the process works.

Don’t

* Do all the talking.

* Get interested in a job just because you like the interviewer personally.  Conversely, don’t dismiss the opportunity if you don’t get a good vibe.

* Ask questions that can be answered with a “yes or no” – unless you just want to verify something or if you don’t want a long story.

* Say bad things about any company, position or colleague.

* Expect perfection.  Think about where would you make trade offs?

* Make promises or set false sense of expectations.

* Bring up religion or politics.

* Tell a joke.

* Be pessimistic or negative in any way such as whine about the economy.

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Interviewing? Here’s a Common Sense Checklist

You’ve reached the point in your job search where you have an interview.

When you sit down with the hiring manager, that’s the point where you see if this is really what you want and they see if you are what they want. If you prepare yourself ahead of time, you’ll do well.

The two most important things to remember (Yes, this is common sense) are:

1.  Show an interest in the job and the company

2.  Be enthusiastic

The following is a checklist of items to consider in preparing yourself, during the interview and follow up after the interview.

BEFORE THE INTERVIEW…

___ Get onto the organization’s Web site — the easiest way to get the information you need. Here’s some of the things you’ll want to check:

  • A description of the company, its products and services

  • Historical background

  • Board of Directors and Senior Management Team

  • Their clients, client references

  • Check press releases for new clients, earnings, new technology, etc.

  • Industry analyst reports

  • Under “Careers,” what type of people they’re looking for and current openings

___ If possible, research background information about the hiring manager

___ What’s the hiring process?  How many interviews and by whom?

___ What’s the timing for their interviews?

___ Do you know the kind of interview to expect?

___ Get to know their industry, either through the Internet or through informational interviews

___ Be able to tell the interviewer why you want the job

___ Show how your skills and experience are a good fit for the requirements of the job. (Follow the requirements of the job as listed in their job description.)

___ Prepare a list of questions you want to ask so that you get what you need from the interview

___ Make sure that you have a list of your 3 to 5 strongest and most positive references.

Remember — you’re trying to make a good impression, so be sincere and enthusiastic and show that you are knowledgeable about the organization and have something to offer them.

DURING THE INTERVIEW…

___ Determine the dress code for the company

___ Dress on the conservative side.

___ Make sure that you arrive early (preferred), but at least on time

___ Bring extra resumes, notepad, pen.

___ Be as relaxed as you can.

___ Know how to pronounce your interviewer’s name correctly.

___ Be personable as well as professional.

___ Before you respond to a question, take time to formulate your answers and respond in the best, most positive light

___ Don’t say anything negative about your prior employer(s).

___ Before you leave, ask the interviewer when you will hear from the company

 

AFTER THE INTERVIEW…

  • As soon as possible, write down notes from the interview — answers to the questions you asked and any other pertinent information.

  • Follow up with a thank-you letter or e-mail message to each person with whom you’ve talked.

  • If you are working with a recruiter, call and give him or her a summary of the interview, your impressions and the next steps. If you are not interested in the opportunity after the interview, be sure to thank the recruiter for getting you the interview.

  • If you haven’t heard from your contact with the company when they said that they would, follow up with a phone call. Also, if they are not interested in you, ask for any input that you might use in the next steps of your job search.

Networking: A Simple, Step-By-Step Process

1.    List the name and contact information (address, phone #, e-mail address, etc.) of everyone you can think of; don’t leave anyone out.

2.    Contact each person on your list  and explain what you’re looking for.

3.    Give each person a copy of your resume or qualifications and ask for advice and help.

4.   Express your interest and appreciation, but remember to be a good listener.

5.   Follow up on any suggestions the person makes.

6.   Contact each person in your network regularly to let them know  your progress.

7.  Let everyone know when you get a job, and remember to show your gratitude for their willingness to help.

Ten Tips for Effective Resumes That Get Read

Fast and volume.  Two words that describe how resumes are sent by applicants and received by potential employers.  It has never been easier to distribute a resume to potential employers or receive resumes from potential employees. Because of speed and volume, it is key that your resume get the attention of the recipient and communicate who you are — very quickly.

Someone said that you have about 30 seconds to create interest with the reader of a resume. Once that interest is sparked, the resume must communicate how your skills and experience match the requirements of the job you’re applying for.

Here are ten tips that will help in making sure that your resume is read. Yes, many of theses tips are common sense. But, you have focused so closely on this summary of your experience, that you lose the objectivity of a person reading it for the first time.

1.  Consider the resume recipient a targeted audience.

A resume is a communications vehicle — just like a brochure, Web site or any other way of reaching an audience.  Consider the reader a target audience. Determine the messages that you want them receive after reading your resume. How do you want to be perceived?

What action do you want them to take?  (I know, that’s obvious!)

2.  Make it easy to read…Format, typeface, bolding, spacing, etc.

This is the most important element of your resume. It has to be easy to read and the recipient will initially look at it very quickly and then determine if it is worth a more in-depth reading. Always remember, you send out a number of resumes and the audience receives hundreds or more, so they do not have the time and energy to read each one thoroughly.

Use a format that allows the reader to see what skills and experience that you have to offer. Typeface should either be Times Roman or Arial in 12 pt. or 14 pt. (headers). Remember, that newspapers use Times Roman, for readability. Use of bolding and

Italics can also make your resume easier to read and give the document some “energy.”

3.   Summarize your skills. What do you have to offer a potential employer?

What skills have you developed in your career thus far?  Develop 5 or more bullets that summarize what you bring to a potential employer. A portion of the list can be customized to meet the needs of a particular job.

If you’re just starting out in your career, be sure to list skills you developed from such things as an internship during college, a summer job, part-time employment, being a reporter or editor of a school newspaper — wherever you had to communicate in writing or verbally.

Following the list of skills, should be your work experience that support how you got your skills, where you worked, what you did and when you did it.

With the ease of being able to edit and revise your resume, take advantage of these tools and customize your resume — if needed. Take the qualifications listed for the job you’re applying for and match your skills and experience to them. For example, if you’re applying for a position in Public Relations, focus the listing of your skills on what is needed to be effective in that position.

4.   Structure your resume in a logical manner

Here’s the order of subjects that I would recommend that you follow on your resume:

1.  Masthead  – At the top, containing your name, address, phone number and e-mail

address

2.   A condensed list of your skills ( 5 or more bullets)

3.  Your experience – Company, location, title, dates you worked there  and  a

summary of what you did at each job

4.  Education

5.  Professional Organizations & Awards

Here’s the rationale for this order.  Your education is important, but not important enough to list first.  What you want to list first is the skills that you have to offer a potential employer, based upon your experience to date. If you’re just starting on your career, list relevant experience you gained at internships, during summer jobs or at  part-time jobs.

5.  Career Objective & References — forget both!

Your hobbies? — Maybe

Don’t bother with a bland, generalized  job or career objective. Normally these are written in such a general manner that they don’t provide much insight about you. This type of information could be covered in your cover letter or during an initial interview.

Also, don’t mention in your resumes that you’ll provide references.  Of course you will. References are a given when you get to the place in the interview process where the employer wants to offer you the job.

List your hobbies and interests?   Generally, no. If any of these relate well to the company or job for  which your applying, then list them.  Otherwise, you may list an activity the hiring manager responds to negatively. For example, saying that you play golf to someone who really dislikes golf, creates a negative feeling.  Use common sense.

6.   Functional approach?  No, no, no!  You try it…

There was a trend a few years ago where it was suggested that people summarize their work experience and accomplishments and then later in the resume list the companies where they did it, in what function and when. The person reading the resume has jump back and forth between sections of the resume, trying to figure out what you did, where and when!

As a recruiter, I can tell you it’s very time-consuming and a tiring process — not something you want to do to make it easier for the reader to evaluate your work experience. All you have to do is try this with someone else’s resume and you’ll see what I mean.

7.   Length of your resume?  1-3 pages.

For junior or entry level, one page is just fine. As you gain experience and become more senior, two to three pages in length is good. No more than that. Remember, the resume should create interest and you have to do that quickly.

Generally, I don’t think a senior professional should have a one-page resume or that a junior level communicator should take up three pages.

How long to make sure resume has always been a matter of opinion. Two pages work well, but don’t think you have to force everything into one page.  Just don’t make the mistake of stretching it out to make it look like you did more than you actually did.. That’s a place where you might get tripped up. Another application of common sense should be used here.

8.  Age a factor because you went back to college?

You may be a professional who has gone to college later in life. In the real business world, I’d recommend that you  delete the date of your graduation from college.  Of course, Recruiters and Human Resource people can figure out your age.   Age discrimination is what I call a “silent discriminator.”  No one can legally talk about it.  It’s an unfortunate game.

9.  Errors on your resume? Shame on you!

Have a someone who knows you review your resume for errors and for content.  Some people will toss your resume aside and not consider you if they come upon an error. This may seem obvious, but you are working with a document that you as the author have seen many times. You may have overlooked an error that you made many times.

10.  Sending your resume…

Create your resume using a format that can be sent and received electronically. Generally, Microsoft  “Word” is the best because most people use it. Never send your resume as part of an e-mail message. Employers and recruiters keep large files of resumes and sending it as an attachment makes sure that your resume arrived the way that you sent it.

The Job Search

When I was writing this article, I immediately focused on the first step in your job search. Then, it occurred to me that before you begin your search, it would be logical to know where you want to go! Where do you want your job search to take you?

Unless you have worked prior to school, you may not know exactly what you “want to do when you grow up.” That’s normal because college is supposed to open up your mind to many possibilities. The reality is that you may start off in one area and move around as you develop in your career.  But, you’re here…now.

What are your skills and personality type?

So, before you start your job search, do your best to determine where you want to go, what you’d like to do and be realistic about your current skills. One aspect of setting goals can be helpful is identifying your personality type. Monster.com has a simple 10-minute self-assessment, based on Meyers-Briggs

Your “type” reveals important things about you, such as whether you’re naturally more outgoing or reserved, realistic or imaginative, logical or sensitive, and organized or spontaneous. And the more closely your type matches the job’s requirements, the happier and more successful you’ll be.

Check it out at:     http://tools.monster.com/perfectcareer/

Before the arrival of the Internet, getting information about the activities that make up a job search was truly hard to find. Many job seekers would hire a firm to find them a job that would include everything from writing a resume, finding potential employers, interviewing and how to close the deal and negotiate for a salary.

Now, it’s all at your fingertips. With little effort, you can find all of the information that you need to do an effective job search on the Internet. Even by logging onto monster.com, you can get a wealth of information that they offer free to everyone.

O.K., your resume is content rich, done in a professional format and easy to read.  Where do you start on your search?

Networking…the foundation of your job search!

Your current network can provide a starting place. But, let’s assume you don’t have one.  As you start your search — and throughout your career — develop a list (yes, write it down) of contacts.  Being new to the full-time job market, your network should contain contacts at all of some of the following:

Ÿ  Professionals you met or worked with during an internship

Ÿ  Professionals you’ve met at meetings or events

Ÿ  Part-time jobs and summer jobs

Ÿ  Contacts through friends and family

Ÿ  Presenters in your class(es) from the business world

Ÿ  Suggestions from your professors

Ÿ  Alumni from your college

Learn from the “Queen of Networking”

In her book, “Nonstop Networking,” Andrea Nierenberg suggests that you should identify the people with whom you want to build relationships, such as:

  1. Customer or clients
  2. Suppliers
  3. Neighbors
  4. Like-minded people
  5. People you meet by chance
  6. Friends
  7. Family

Many people feel uncomfortable networking outside of their own circle of friends and acquaintances. If that’s the case for you, consider strengthening your skills in what Ms. Nierenberg calls “The Seven Traits of Great Networkers”:

Ÿ  Appear confident and are not afraid to ask questions.

Ÿ  Appreciate those who help them

Ÿ  Consistently nurture their relationships

Ÿ  Are tenacious in going around obstacles

Ÿ  Are excellent listeners

Ÿ  Rebound quickly and completely from rejection

Ÿ  Are friendly and approachable

Six Steps to conduct an effective job search

JOBTRAK has an excellent Six Step Process that is designed to help college students and alumni conduct successful job searches.

“Successful job seekers must have both good information and well-developed job hunting skills. Three important factors for a successful job search are an awareness of your goals and skills, an understanding of the labor market, and a well planned job search campaign.

Experts recommend that you begin an active job search six to nine months in advance of your target employment date. You can begin the process by visiting the Career Center early (for students, nine months to a year before graduation).”

You can get the Six Step Process at the following URL:

http://www2.jobtrak.com/help_manuals/jobmanual/

Three key ingredients to a successful job search…

…Be enthusiastic                                  …

…Keep yourself motivated

…Network, network, network!