The key to acing any interview is going that extra mile through all phases of the interview process including the preparation and post interview follow up. The goal is to present yourself as the most qualified candidate.
In other words – beat out the competition.
Here are six winning tips to help you stand above the crowd of candidates at your next interview:
1. Do Your Research.
A well informed candidate is a successful candidate. Take time to learn as much as you can about the company and job opportunity. Great sources to find information include the company’s website, company reviews or simply doing a quick search on Google.
Many interviewers will come right out and ask what you know about the company, why you want to work for the company and why you’re interested in the position. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to answer these questions and show how you can add value to the organization.
Being well informed will also help you develop great questions for the interviewer, showing that you have a genuine interest in the company and position.
2. Create a Match Between You and the Job
The key to converting your interview to an offer is creating a match between you and the job. You must be able to show that your skills and qualifications match what the employer is seeking.
The job posting provides you with a summary of the job’s responsibilities and required experience and skills. As you study the job description, match your experiences to each of the requirements that are listed. For example, if the job description states that the position requires someone with experience managing a high volume customer service environment, be prepared to articulate your experience in this area. If no job description exists, try to gather as much information as you can about the job from the recruiter or person who originally informed you of the position.
Quick Tip: Oftentimes, job postings are taken off of the internet by the time interviewing takes place for the position. Be sure to save every job posting when you apply to a job so that you have it if invited to interview.
3. Determine Your Personal Selling Points
What’s your x-factor? What makes you unique? You should know this prior to any interview. The company will probably be interviewing several candidates. And, while you probably won’t know who the other candidates are, you should know what makes you unique. What accomplishments and experiences do you have that are relevant to the position, but still unique to others? Once you determine your greatest accomplishments and differentiating experiences, you’ll want to ensure that you always share it in the interview.
4. Be Ready To Address Your Weaknesses
As you seek to create a match between your qualifications and what the position requires, identify your experience and skill gaps. These are your weaknesses. Once identified, you’ll need to determine how you can compensate for that experience or skill deficiency.
For example, if the position requires someone with experience designing training programs, but you lack the experience, think about how you can compensate for this deficiency. Perhaps you’ve taken a class that taught you how to design training programs. While you don’t have the experience, you can let the employer know that you’re quite knowledgeable in this area and discuss your proposed methodology for developing and implementing a training program.
5. Address the Elephant in the Room
There are certain red flags that recruiters will instantly catch on your resume. Perhaps you’ve hopped from job to job every 6 months, indicating that you could be a flight risk. Perhaps you’re currently unemployed, which could mean that you were fired. Perhaps you’ve had several gaps in employment.
These are the things that you dread explaining and sincerely hope that the interviewer doesn’t bring up. But, instead of waiting to be asked, proactively address these issues with the interviewer. The perfect time to address them is at the beginning of the interview when asked to summarize your resume or tell them about yourself.
The key to dealing with these dreaded topics is planning a great explanation ahead of time. When you proactively address your issues from the start, it can help diffuse the negative perception that the recruiter may have. Furthermore, there’s always the chance that they won’t ask, but still assess you negatively, placing you at a disadvantage to other candidates.
6. Develop Your Strategic Follow Up Plan
During the interview, you should ask questions that will provide you with a clear sense of the critical qualifications that the employer is looking for in a candidate. You’ll also want to get a sense of the immediate priorities and objectives that will be set for the person who is selected for the job. This will provide you with the data that you need to write an effective follow up letter.
Instead of the standard thank you letter that many candidates send after the interview, send the interviewers a strategic letter that articulates the match between your qualifications and the critical qualifications needed for the job, along with your plan for successfully addressing the immediate priorities of the job.
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