I have created these twelve commandments of interviewing to better prepare you for your interview. The caveat is the most important part of landing a job is selling yourself in the interview. Unfortunately, most people do a very poor job. When candidates do devote any time to employment preparation, it is usually spent on developing and sending out their resume. However, as you will soon learn, resumes don’t get you hired. Instead, human resources often uses your resume to screen you out!
As a recruiter with over 23 years of staffing experience, I have filled many hundreds of jobs worldwide for such clients as ITW, Intermatic and Wrigley Company. During that time, I have accumulated many tips and tricks. For example, there are special ways to answer interview questions that will increase your probability of employment.
Every month for the next 12 months, I will share some of my interview knowledge with you. Though every job, employment situation and staffing circumstance is different, these interview tips will apply to a wide range of jobs and employment opportunities. Think of them as interview gold!
Please check in every month for a new interview tip. I hope you enjoy them all. – Scott Sargis
This is the first of twelve commandments of interviewing that I will be sharing with you on a monthly basis. Think of each as interview gold! They are drawn from top resume samples and great interview answers consultants at my recruiter firm have witnessed in our 20 years in business. Though I do not put much emphasis on resumes, I will begin with one of several best resume examples to help you start a perfect job search.
Today’s tip is, “Always have your resume updated and ready to go!” Though there are better ways to generate interviews, which I will share with you in the next two months of interviewing tips, having a resume is a necessary tool. Especially, in these tough economic times when you never know when your next layoff will occur!
Although there is no ideal way to prepare a resume, I recommend including a lot of numbers. For example, “I saved my past employer $50,000 with a new machine tool I implemented. (Key: also include as many similar quantitative accomplishments as possible in your resume. This will impress employers).
Also, as a rule of thumb, you want to update your resume every six months. If you job has not changed in that time, then maybe it is a sign that it’s time for a change. So remember, to always have your resume updated and ready to go!
This month’s interviewing tip is resumes don’t get you hired, you do! Many people waste a lot of time and money developing and sending out resumes, but did you know that most human resources personnel only spend 10 to 15 seconds reviewing your resume only to screen you out? Instead I recommend networking to generate interviews.
There are two main types of networking. One type is telling everyone you know that you are looking for a job. This includes friends and family. The second type is business networking. This includes joining associations in your field and meeting key decision makers.
A valuable tool to help you network is called the 30-second elevator pitch. You want to quickly convey three things during this pitch: 1) who you are 2) what you are looking for and 3) your 2-3 greatest strengths. Practice this pitch repeatedly in the mirror, in a tape recorder and on videotape until you perfect it. Then share it with everyone you know and meet.
This beats having your resume put in the dead file by human resources. Therefore, remember to network and employ the 30-second elevator pitch to generate interviews.
This month’s interviewing tip is take a sales approach to interview generation. Last month I shared with you two interview generation techniques: 1) networking and 2) the 30-second elevator pitch. Now you are ready for the next step in interview generation, which is to approach the whole interview process like a top salesman would.
Look at the interview process as a numbers game. The more people you call on, the more likely you will land an interview. Set a goal to meet ten new people every day. Share with each your 30-second elevator pitch. The key is you never know who may know about your next job lead. So remember to take a sales approach to interview generation.
This month’s interviewing tip is practice on videotape. This is the case because the most important part of landing a job is selling yourself in the interview. To help you prepare for your interviews, I have created the acronym C.O.P. C stands for copying. What you want to do is get a little ringed memo pad that will easily fit into your pocket or purse. Then over the next 3-4 days, you want to copy down all of your accomplishments and skills that are related to the job you are interviewing for. The way you will know what is important to capture for that interview is to look at the job description and research the company. Both will offer you clues as to what is most important for the hiring manager. Let that information guide your interview preparation.
When you cannot think of anything else, then you are ready for the second step, which is O for organizing. In this step, you what to take the interview preparation information that you copied in step one and organize it into a useful format. I recommend rank-ordering it from the most important down to the least important and then memorizing your top ten accomplishments and skills that are related to the job you are interviewing for.
Finally, P stands for practice, practice and more practice. I recommend practicing your interviews on videotape. I also recommend getting a friend that you can trust to be your practice interviewer. Have this practice interviewer be really tough on you during your mock interviews because research shows that the tougher you practice your interviews, the easier the actual interviews will be for you. Furthermore, if you practice your interviews on videotape, you will be able to quickly see your interview mistakes and be able to quickly correct them before your actual interview.
We have even created a more detailed version of interview preparation called the Real Benefit Exercise. In any case, remember to practice your interviews on videotape and remember the acronym C.O.P. to help you during your practice interviews.
This month’s interviewing tip is the mantra: sell, sell, sell! You want to remember this throughout the interview. What this means is adopting a sales mindset for your interviews. View the interviewer as your customer and what you are selling is your background as a solution to their needs. Put yourself in the hiring company’s shoes and ask yourself the question, “Why should they hire me?”
The more that you can meet the employer’s needs, the more likely your interview will be successful including getting hired. So remember the interview mantra: sell, sell, sell.
This month’s interviewing tip is never be late for an interview! Arriving late for an interview sends the wrong message. It says that you are not a true professional. Instead, I recommend arriving ten to fifteen minutes early for an interview. This will give you a chance to relax and gather your thoughts.
Use GPS and travel the route one or two days before the interview. This will allow you to better gauge your travel time. Remember: never be late for an interview. It sends the wrong message!
This month’s interviewing tip is how do you handle a salary question? This often takes the form of an employer asking you how much money you are looking to make?
The best answer, especially for your first interview, is: I am open on the money, the key is the opportunity. The reason is research shows that whatever amount you state on your first interview will either be too high or too low. If it is too high, you may knock yourself out of consideration for that job! If it is too low, you may cheat yourself out of an extra thousand or two in salary.
Therefore, remember to say, “I’m open on the money, the key is the opportunity.” Then stick to this answer no matter how hard the interviewer pushes you during your first interview.
This month’s interviewing tip is positive mental attitude. Positive mental attitude (PMA) is particularly important if you have been fired or laid off. This is because a negative attitude, which many suffer after such a depressing employment setback, can poison your future interviews and decrease your chances of landing your next job.
Did you know that there are a lot of inexpensive ways to improve your attitude? For example, you can:
- Take a mini vacation to rejuvenate yourself.
- Get a massage to help you relax
- Repeatedly chant a positive mantra such as, “Every day and in every way I am getting better, better and better!”
Whatever method you choose, it is important to bring a positive mental attitude to your interviews. This will set the best tone for your interviews and increase your chances of landing your next job.
This month’s interviewing tip is don’t overlook temporary positions. Did you know that one of the biggest trends in industry is temp-to-perm conversions? This means that an employer will first hire you on a temporary or contract basis, then try you out on the job to judge your employment skills and then later hire you into the job on a full-time basis once you have proven yourself.
This is a form of interviewing that many job candidates do not even consider. Companies engage in this practice due to the high cost of firing someone and not wanting to make an employment blunder. Therefore, do not overlook temporary employment, it may lead to a full-time employment situation!
This month’s interviewing tip is how do you handle a low-ball offer? For example, an employer offering you a $70,000 salary when you were making $80,000. Often times this is just a interview test to see how you will react. Unfortunately, many job candidates fail the test because they get angry and overreact!
Instead, I recommend a 3-step process:
- Confirm. For example, “Mr. Jones, do I understand that you are offering me $70,000?” He may say no and then your comeback should be, “what are you offering me?”
- Once you know what the real offer is, then you are ready for the 2nd step, which is compliment and postpone. For example, “Mr. Jones, I really like your company because (then offer some legitimate reasons: this is the compliment part), but I need a couple of days to crunch the numbers (the postpone). Most companies will allow this.
- Finally, the 3rd step is negotiate. This is where you offer a counteroffer. For example, “Mr. Jones, I crunched the numbers over the last few days and I really need $77,000 because (offer some legitimate reasons why).”
The result will be you will either get the amount that you wanted or you can move on to other opportunities. So remember to employ this 3-step process to handling low-ball job offers.
This month’s interviewing tip is thoroughly research your next employer. This is an often-neglected step in landing your next job. Relying upon a friend or recruiter’s pitch is not enough.
It is important to dig up a lot of employment information on the industry, the company and your next boss. Use the Internet, a local library and D&B Reports. This can take a lot of time, but failure to do so can be disastrous.
It is better to uncover a weak company before you join than six months after starting work. So remember to thoroughly research your next employer.
This month’s interviewing tip is after the interview is over send a sales letter. A sales letter is a thank you letter on steroids! It is 25% thank you for your time and 75% salesmanship reinforcing 2 or 3 reasons why you are best qualified for the job.
For example, “Mr. Jones, I really enjoyed our interview yesterday (the thank you part). As a result, I feel even more than before that I am a great fit for your organization. I say this because (list 2-3 reasons why and give examples= this is the sales part). “
This will provide you one more opportunity to sell yourself as a solution to that employer’s needs! So remember to send a sales letter after all your interviews.