Job Search is a full time job




So you have a well targeted resume and a really hot covering letter and finally you get an interview.  You now have to research the company to gain a through understanding of what they do and also know in details the job description.

Dress appropriately. If it's a business casual office, you wear a suit. If it's a jeans and T-shirt type of place, you wear nice trousers and a nice shirt. Be on time and that means don't be too early or too late but either way this may be out of your control with public transport and traffic queues doubling the nominal time for the planned journey.  If you are too early do you wait in reception or drive around the location? If you are likely to be late, do you park and try to phone and so arrive later and then only get an answer phone because your interviewer has already gone along with colleagues to interview you?

Interviews may be intimidating, particularly if you are up against a committee across the table. It is not, however, all the interviewer's way. You interview them as much as they interview you. You want the job, but they really, really want to employ you and right now so they can get back to work. So you have the advantage; all you have to be is the right person.

How do you become the right person? Make sure you know why you want the job. What is it about the company and job that would make you a good fit and what makes it a good fit for you? From web pages, company returns and job description you should have a thorough understanding of the company. Anything you feel you don't know or understand ask up front first. Avoid responding to open questions that the interviewer starts off with; like "Tell me about yourself". You don't want to repeat what is on your resume or got through your last or current job in great details. Throw it back at them and ask them a few questions about the company, their role with respect to the job and where the successful candidate will fit. Only then can you consider where your skills make the best fit and being able to tie in with your expectations of their needs.

Prior to the interview you can ask if there is some problem the company is working on that you can present a solution for. This is somewhat radical, but imagine how well you'll be received if you walk into the interview with a proposal for the company's biggest problem. This just shouts, "Hey, this person can do this job!"

Don't be afraid of ringing the interviewer to get a few more details about the job. Sometimes the details change moving the job more in your direction, or further away from it. Telephone interviews are often used to short list candidates to interview in person.

Here are some points that you should always consider:-

How you look affects how the interviewer see you.

Your interview will be successful if you are prepared and have done your homework.

  • Get to know yourself.
  • Be confident but try not to sound conceited: use examples to support your answers.
  • Do not tell lies but tailor the truth in order to present a positive impression of yourself.
  • Interviewing is a two-way street.
  • Establish a rapport with the interviewer right from the beginning.
  • Use your agent/recruiter to negotiate your best salary.

Interview behaviours interviewers don't like

It is a common mistake that job seekers believe that they can only respond to what they have been asked. The interviewer may be brilliant at managing his business but may be as nervous and confused over interviewing as you are. Help them out. Make sure you put over all your sterling qualities and make it an easy choice for him.

So what should you avoid?

 Bad non-verbal cues.

It is a cliché, but a firm handshake and good eye contact really make a good impression. People tend to equate a limp handshake with weakness. And, unless weakness is a job prerequisite, you're out of luck. Many people will say they're so shy they can't make eye contact. Be prepared for an interviewer to take that as a sign that you won't be able to stand up for yourself at work, and judge you accordingly.

Talking too much or too little :

Watch the interviewer's eyes and body language. If they are fidgeting or yawning you may be boring them, wind it up and move the conversation back to them. However if the interviewer pauses after you answered a question them may be they where expecting more or a different answer. 

Beware of not asking questions.

Occasionally the job specification has been thorough, or you feel you had your concerns and questions aired during a telephone interview. The best questions are to ask those that pertain to what the interviewer had said during the interview. It shows that you where listening.

Do not worry about the interview.

You have done your research and perhaps rehearsed with a savvy friend, reviewed your answers to the most likely questions and picked the right attire. This should put you at ease. Getting anxious could impair your performance so practise techniques to calm yourself down. There is also at least one other person you should make relaxed - the interviewer. They may not have any more experience of interviewing than you have in being interviewed and many are uncomfortable with the process and may not even have a detailed knowledge of the job - that is why you are needed. The more that you can get them to relax and talk freely the better they will feel about the interview. So be friendly. Be polite. Have good eye contact and listen carefully to what is said. Stress your abilities to work as part of a team together or independently. Be professional and amiable. Don't ask questions that may put the interviewer on the defensive.  If it is not clear to you seek clarification. Be wary of challenging a question unless it is patently offensive.

Get interview calls in under three days

Wouldn't it me nice if you could make your phone with managers ringing to invite you to an interview? You have to remember that job searching is a number game. If you send out 1000 resumes you should get 10-15 quality responses leading to 5 interviews.

How about having nearly zero competition from other job hunters? Even advertised jobs do not get listed the day the decision had been made to recruit. If you can get your resume on the desk of someone before they go to the expense of advertising it so much the better. The problem is them to target the industries and decision makers by name. You can get directories of companies, at the public library, that will include web site, addresses and phone numbers. You can ring up the company and ask a few questions of the receptionist including who is the hiring  managers, whether they have their own Human Resources, whether they are recruiting and perhaps talk to the person that posts the jobs even before they do it. Be polite and ask if they can spare the time to help you and you will be amazed what you can learn about the company and how it works.

You can then fax the hiring manager with the right resume at the right time.

There are web sites that will fax out your resume to hundreds of companies for you. maintains a list of managers and companies and contacts so that your resume is sent to the right person. Although this does not match you to advertised jobs it does get you in  before those jobs are advertised. It is after all a numbers game and you only want the one job.

Interview answers could land you the job...or lose it!

One of the highest-stakes questions you can be asked during a job interview is, "Tell us about yourself." When this happens at the beginning of the interview it probably means the interviewer needs time to compose themselves, review you resume for the first time and perhaps even read what on earth they are suppose to do with you.

It provides an every opportunity to bomb from the start. Your winning response is to tell them how your skills relate to what they are looking for. So you researched the company and have already taken on board the job specification but that doesn't tell you much about the team that you potentially will be working with or what currently is of most concern to them and their managers.

None the less no interview is completed until this question has been asked. It provides you with the perfect opening to self yourself as a professional, interesting and an all rounded person. If you respond by stating that you get along well with just about everybody, then the employer is likely to conclude that you have an extroverted, social personality. If you respond by saying that you are very career minded and are focused on moving up in your career as quickly as possible, the interviewer will likely interpret your response to indicate that you are very ambitious.

Either of these responses can be viewed in a positive or negative light, depending on the specifics of the job for which you are applying. Your response should be honest, but you do need to be careful about how you answer, so you can be sure that what you are saying is sending the right message to the prospective employer.

So take charge and prompt for some direction by leading questions, but don't make life hard for them, they are possibly as nervous as they are unwitting trying to make you.

In your brainstorming session you will have looked into the potential employer and built up responses professionally and personally to demonstrate your technical skills, intrapersonal skills and accomplishments. Keep it brief and to the point.

You can then best judge how your personality and skills will complement that of the team and the goals of the company.

If you have little choice but to answer this at the start of the interview consider these tips:-

  • DON'T wing it ... prepare for it and practice it
  • DON'T just list a boring chronology of your work history
  • DON'T use your elevator speech (30-second commercial), it should sound spontaneous, not rehearsed
  • DO summarize your work history or expertise
  • DO mention any relevant credentials or education
  • DO highlight some special qualifications or value you bring
  • DO keep it to about 20-30 seconds max (you can always ask if that answers the question at the end)

You have less than half a minute to impress. The lasting impression you will leave are how you appear at the start of the interview and how you respond at the end of it.

Anticipate the tough open ended questions. How you answer these is as important as what you say.  Take your time, but then be concise and to the point. Illustrate your values and how they would help the company. Be yourself and present an accurate profile of your skills and work style.

And when you leave thank them for their time and make it clear that "You want the job".

There are numerous web sites offering help in writing resumes, covering letters and interviewing techniques using some "great secret" all for a small fee. After you read a few of these you might find that they all have the same pattern of sales, including the best offer if you only sign up today. Maybe they do help, maybe they don't for you.

Other than making it clear that you want the job what is the secret behind getting the job offered to you? This is as simple as it is hard. Enthusiasm. If you can see how you can benefit the company and how they enhance your own goals you become enthusiastic about the role. This in turn opens up the possibilities which you are duty bound to explain. You may not be a 100% skill match but you clearly have all the right attributes to get on an make the difference. Nothing is more contagious than enthusiasm. Working with people who see challengers as an opportunity to do better and come through are the ones you want to work with and so does your interviewer.




Last updated 26th January 2010