Your First Job: How to Turn a Job Interview into a Job Offer
In the time that you have between arranging the job interview and sitting down to answer the first question, you have to become the professional persona that you have taken the time and effort to capture in your resume.
Divide your time on a two-to-one ratio. For every hour that you spend on the mechanics of preparation-researching the company, your route, preparing your wardrobe, and related activities-spend two hours with your resume preparing for questions. So if it takes two hours to research the company, invest four hours into reviewing everything about your resume; if it takes two hours to get your wardrobe together, invest at least four hours in reviewing how you'll respond to interview questions. By the time you arrive at the interview, you should know the stories that go with every line in your resume.
You should know how each prioritized responsibility of the job translate into everyday tasks. For example, when an employer says they need good analytical skills, how are you likely to be using them on a day-to-day basis? This will help you understand what you need to do to shine. This means you need to:
- Take time to immerse yourself in each of the job's itemized responsibilities, researching that aspect of the job and finding out what it takes to do this aspect of the job well.
- With each itemized responsibility, consider the specific transferable skills and professional values that will help you execute that aspect of the job. These professional development projects must take the place of workplace experience until you actually get a job, so you need to start honing your transferable skills now.
The Five Secrets of the Hire
There are five secrets to acing a job interview. Understanding them will help you distinguish yourself from other candidates and turn job interviews into job offers. They will also show you how to make a success of your professional life.
- Ability and Suitability: You establish your ability to do the job by showing your firm grasp of the technical skills of the profession; you exhibit suitability for the work in your appearance, demeanor, and the sense of natural professionalism.
- Every Job is About Problem-Solving: Every job is about identifying, preventing, and solving problems. Show how you understand how this applies to your target job and managers will weep with relief and joy.
- Professionals Are Professionals Because They Behave That Way: You need to cultivate a professional persona that combines your transferable skills and professional values into an appealing and enthusiastic whole. This will set you apart from the other candidates and will set you on track to reach the inner circles of your professional world.
- Motivation and Intelligent Enthusiasm: Show that you understand the work and that you're intelligently enthusiastic about doing well.
- Teamwork and Manageability: Every job requires you to work as part of a team towards a greater goal, so you must show that you can be a team player. Manageability is the different but related ability to take direction and criticism, even if it's not given with significant consideration for your delicate feelings. You take direction and criticism in the right spirit because you are about helping the team reach goals that are impossible through individual effort alone.
Company ResearchThe interviewer will want you to know general information including some facts about the company. He or she will not want to spend a lot of time explaining to you what the organization does or how it's positioned in the industry. If you cannot answer confidently and convincingly, it will demonstrate a lack of sincerity, and you will compare poorly against other candidates who took this additional effort.
Find out what you can about where the company stands in its industry. Is it leading? Is it up and coming? How does it distribute its products and services? How do its products and services compare to its competitors in terms of availability, pricing, and functionality? Doing your research will show your sincerity and help you ask intelligent questions. You should know:
- What the company does, its locations, and any subsidiaries
- Its current products and any upcoming or new products
- News regarding the company, its products, or key executives
- Its competitors globally, nationally, and locally
- What competitive edge does the company have in its market
Amy Klimek is an experienced HR recruiter and VP of Human Resources for ZipRecruiter, a company that simplifies the hiring process for small to medium size businesses. Prior to that Amy has held similar roles at Rent.com, eBay and US Interactive. For Amy, corporate culture isn't about dogs and free lunches, it's about empowering employees and creating an enriching environment for people to excel.