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The job interview is your opportunity to make your best, in-person, first impression. It is key to making a positive and lasting impression as you are meeting your potential boss and possibly even some of your future coworkers.
Stay cool, calm and collected and don’t let the importance of the situation overwhelm you. Before interviewing, take the time to do a bit of research on each company so that you have a better gauge of the culture and vibe of the business. Prepare examples to highlight your strengths and personality while keeping in mind the company values so employers are impressed with what you bring to the table and are eager to learn more about you.
This article gives pointers directed from hiring managers to help applicants put their best foot forward before and during a job interview.
Making your resume and cover stand out
Typically, most hiring managers read a resume or cover letter for a mere 30 seconds before deciding to either keep or discard it. Your resume and cover letter present a prime chance to stand out from the crowd by spotlighting your unique experiences and strengths in an intriguing and professional way.
Whether you are an avid reader, a networking guru or an excel master, look for ways to expand on your passions, talents and prior experiences that will impress your future employer. Here are some tips to help:
- Writing your resume
Make sure that you not only write professionally but that you also use the appropriate terminology for the position you are applying for. Thoroughly read through the job description, make a list of the technical terms used, and then use those specific terms when describing your own skills and experiences.
Read the company’s mission statement and then formulate your resume and cover letter, so that it resonates well with the company’s mission statement. Also, do this for the job description for the position you are hiring for.
- Using storytelling in your resume
It is also important to make sure your resume and cover letter stand out from the rest. Besides listing your skills and accomplishments, you want to showcase your value and your ability to add something great to the company. Jeff Arnett, CEO of Arnett Credentials advises,
“It is easy to see how some candidate’s nerves can begin to control their interview. Instead, they should channel those nerves into explaining a memorable learning experience that they had in the past and relate that to why they would be good for the position.”
This learning experience could be an opportunity for you to briefly describe how you had previously approached a problem or how you handled an intense project.
A good way to hold someone’s attention on your resume is to give your information in story form. While it is not easy to tell a compelling story using bullet points–the preferred, terse format for resumes, there are a few things to remember to make this easier.
- Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when creating a story-based resume:
Use the top of your resume to briefly tell who you are
Storify your accomplishments by using colorful adjectives
Ensure your resume is accomplishments-driven with supporting data (GPA, increased sales numbers, etc.)
List resume accomplishments in REVERSE order, with your recent successes listed first
Have supplemental documents on hand in case additional information is needed
With a compelling enough narrative, multiple interviewers will have no choice but to feel inclined to speak on an applicant’s behalf when deciding whether or not to hire you.
An applicant’s compelling narrative in a story-style resume will be another opportunity to show off your personality and people can be easily attracted to a unique and engaging narrative that sticks out, rather than one that falls flat.
Be prepared to talk more about the examples you give in your resume and letter in the actual interview. Practice talking about a project you worked on or how you handled a problem before going. Once in the interview, applicants should expect that the interviewer will ask them to expand on a few points- applicants are to anticipate points that will need explaining.
Highlighting your willingness to learn
Learning new skills is a life-long endeavor and essential in order to keep up with new trends and technologies. Being excited and willing to learn is also one of the most valuable skills companies look for nowadays. Companies like to see current and prospective employees taking the initiative to expand their knowledge and become more valuable in the process.
Highlight examples of when you took the initiative to further your education or learn about new technology in your interview. Many companies will want their new employees to thrive to become a positive addition to the company’s culture.
Dressing for success
Don’t be too earlier than 15 minutes to your interview. If you are early. Walk around the building or the neighborhood to get familiar with it. Make sure to bring multiple copies of your resume and cover letter.
Dress for the role you wish to have. No matter how casual the job, it is better to dress to impress, i.e. a suit and tie or dress and heels, than to appear lazy or sloppy. How formally you dress, depends on the culture of where you are applying.
Preparing for the interview
It is important to exude confidence in yourself and your abilities; especially if multiple people are being interviewed back to back or at once. Know what qualities make a good employee and relate those qualities back to yourself. Having examples of projects you have completed or helped with allows you point to specific examples without seeming boastful.
Research the company and the person who will be conducting the interview. Knowing who you will be interviewing with and preparing answers for possible questions will help you to feel better prepared and less likely to be overwhelmed by feelings of intimidation or nervousness.
Back-to-back interviews are fairly common, but almost always unexpected. It is encouraged to research multiple people within the company who have different levels of experience to get more of an idea of who you might be working with in the future. This is also a great opportunity to get to know potential colleagues ahead of time to minimize the intimidation factor.
If you feel that the conversation is getting away from you and the job, don’t be afraid to steer the conversation back in the right direction. It is OK to ask for a question to be repeated- this shows thought is being put into the answer rather than rapid firing answers off.
Interviewing your future employer
When interviewing, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer questions about the job and the company. Asking relevant questions further proves your interest in the job and the company and can show that you’ve done your research beforehand.
Check out the company website to learn the basics about them so that you can be prepared to ask intelligent questions and so that you can show you know who you will be working for if asked. Employers want to see that you’ve come prepared!
It’s good to know the following:
Number of years in business
Type of work that’s done there
Number of employees
Number and location of offices
Company’s wins and losses
Use your research to prepare questions about the company before the interview. Write down questions that pop up as you read the job description or the company website. Feel free to ask about and express interest in taking part in company activities to make for a pleasant work-life balance. Employers want to know that you’re not only useful business-wise, but that you will also enhance the culture of the company and create a good impression of the business in the community.
Applying for a job and the interviews themselves are always stressful but preparing examples that highlight your relevant experience interlaced with examples that show your personality go a long way in helping to create applications that stand out from the rest and allow you to prepare talking points for when you do land that interview.
Knowing about the company and the person you will interview with will allow you to talk about how you can help the company achieve its goals and address problems. All this preparation will back up your professional look when you and the interviewer at last shake hands.
Emily Banks is a bay area native who got tired of San Francisco’s cold beaches, so she moved to San Diego. She is currently the HR editor for 365 Business. When she is not typing away on her keyboard, she can be found eating street tacos in the sunshine.