Two of the hardest things you will endure when you begin your career search is writing your resume and then going to an interview. Both of these things can make or break you, and it is important that you never sell yourself short and you always answer everything honestly. Review the tips below for your interview and your resume.
• Treat your resume as an advertisement for you. Don't sell yourself short; your experiences are worthy for review by hiring managers. Be sure to thoroughly "sell" yourself by highlighting all of your strengths. If you have a valuable asset which doesn't seem to fit into any existing components of your resume, list it anyway as its own resume segment. Recent college graduates should include internships, part-time jobs in another area or field, volunteer work, involvement in school organizations, class work, involvement in management activities for sororities and fraternities, and participation in sports.
• Omit needless items. Leave all these things off of your resume: social security number, marital status, health, citizenship, age, scholarships, irrelevant awards, irrelevant associations and memberships, irrelevant publications, irrelevant recreational activities, a second mailing address ("permanent address" is confusing and should never be used), references, "references available upon request", travel history, previous pay rates, previous supervisors' names, and components of your name which you really never use (i.e. middle names).
• Quantify your experience wherever possible. Cite numerical figures, such as budget size, dollars saved, specific efficiencies implemented, hours of work reduced, number of days faster delivery to customer, etc., to demonstrate progress or accomplishments directly due to your work.
• Begin sentences with action verbs (managed, created, implemented, improved, etc.). Portray yourself as someone who is active, uses their brain, and gets things done. Stick with the past tense, even for descriptions of currently held positions, to avoid confusion.
• Proofread, proofread, proofread. Be sure to catch all spelling errors, grammatical weaknesses, unusual punctuation, and inconsistent capitalizations. Proofread it numerous times, over at least two days, to allow a fresh eye to catch any hidden mistakes. Then, have a trusted friend review your resume. Be sure to pick someone who is attentive to detail, can effectively critique your writing, and will give an honest and objective opinion. Seriously consider their advice. Get a third and fourth opinion if you can.
• Laser print (no typing or dot-matrix printers) it on plain, white paper. Don't waste your money on special bond paper, matching envelopes, or colored paper. Your resume will be photocopied, emailed, and scanned numerous times, defeating your use of special or non-white paper.
This is an invaluable tool to you no matter how much work or interviewing experience you have. Because your recruiter is being paid to find their ideal candidate, the hiring company has shared valuable inside information about their company, the firm's interviewer, and the competition that you are up against! Your "preparatory" interview is the best supply of inside information to help your "actual" interview go smoothly!
The second most important thing to remember is that all client interaction should go through your recruiter. Do not contact the client directly. It is our job to serve as the liaison between you and the client. Even though speaking with them directly seems like the fastest method, it can often hurt you in the negotiation phase.
Before your interview, research the company! If we have a website address or printed materials available, your recruiter will happily provide them to you. Your research, coupled with your interview preparation, will dramatically increase your chances for a successful interview and job offer.
Next, contact your references to let them know where you are interviewing and what is involved in the position. This allows them to be prepared for reference checks and to gear their comments towards the specific position you are applying for.
At the same time, you should practice any interview questions you have had trouble with in the past. Also, be prepared to answer questions about your career track, your professional goals and salary history, and your strengths and weaknesses. Since everybody has weaknesses, no interviewer will believe you if you say you have none.
To properly prepare for your interview, you should have some specific questions ready for your interviewer. This lets them know that you are interested in them and their specific company. Be careful not to ask questions that have already been addressed by them. Here are a few to consider:
- What do they like most about the firm?
- What is the long term goal of this position?
- What is the training and orientation process?
- What are the long term goals of the company?
- What are the biggest challenges facing the firm?
- How long has the interviewer been with the organization?
At least one day before your interview, drive to your interview location and find at least one option for parking, besides street parking. This will save both time and money on your interview day and help you be more calm and relaxed when you arrive.
The Day of Your Interview
Make sure that regardless of company dress code that you are professionally dressed in a suit. Pay attention to small details, such as handbags, portfolios, cologne, hair and makeup. Conservative is the only way to go for an interview.
Take extra copies of both your resume and your list of references. Additionally, we strongly recommend you carry a portfolio, because briefcases can be cumbersome. Finally, be prepared to fill out all of their paperwork.
During your interview, pay close attention to your posture, speech patterns and gestures. Be relaxed and be yourself. However, please remember that no matter how well you "bond" with your interviewer, it is still an interview.
Before leaving, ask for your interviewer's business card. This will allow you to write a follow-up thank you note with the correct spelling of their name, their specific title, and the company name. Many jobs have been lost by not remembering the interviewer's correct name or title!
After Your Interview
Immediately after your interview, go to a private place and call your recruiter. This is critically important, because we must know what you are thinking and what occurred in your interview before we can follow-up with the client. Finally, congratulations on making such a great impression!
Interview Preparation and Job Offer Success Dress For Success Dress Tips for Women
- Dress in a skirt suit or a pant suit.
- Style and colors should be conservative (Gray/Black/Navy).
- Skirt should be an appropriate length for a formal business environment.
- Blouse should not be low-cut or transparent.
- Make sure to wear stockings if in a skirt, with heels or proper dress shoes. No tennis shoes, boots or open-toed shoes.
- No perfume.
- Makeup should be minimal and of neutral color.
- Hair should be neat and conservative.
- Purse should be a small matching handbag.
- Clothing should not be tight fitting.
Dress Tips for Men
- Hair should be clean and trimmed and face freshly shaven.
- Dress in conservative business suit (Gray/Black/Navy).
- Cuffs and collars should be clean and not frayed.
- Dress shoes should coordinate and be shined.
- Tie should be conservative, wrinkle free and in good condition.
- Tie should be straight and tied in a tight knot at the collar.
- Bottom tip of tie should be in the middle of belt buckle, when standing.
- Socks should fit properly and not be lighter than trousers.
- No cologne or aftershave.
Before You Go to an Interview
- Have your references ready.
- Think of potential questions that you will be asked by the interviewer and that you will ask them.
- Practice answers to questions that you have had problems with in the past.
- Get someone to "role play" with you.
- Practice your speech patterns.
- Observe your mannerism and facial expressions in a mirror.
Interview Success Tips
- All clothing should be in good repair, fit properly and be professional work attire.
- Carry a portfolio; briefcases can be cumbersome.
- Portfolio should be black, dark brown, or cordovan.
- Your watch should be of appropriate size, professional and the alarm should be turned off.
- Do not carry pagers or cell phones.
- Do not eat or chew gum or candy.
- Do not wear sunglasses.
- Be prepared to fill out paperwork and complete any tests that may be required.
Salary is NOT Everything
Yes, you do need a certain amount to meet your minimum requirements. No one expects you to reduce your salary to an extent that it creates a hardship. However, if it is a marginal reduction, then you should take into account benefits such as:
Shorter Commute, Close to a METRO stop, Free Parking, Dental Coverage, Family-Friendly Vision Coverage, Prescription Coverage, Medical Plan, Short-Term Disability Insurance, Day Care, Long-Term Disability Insurance, Life Insurance, Vacation Days, Sick Leave Days, Personal Days, Travel Education Assistance, Discounted Cafeteria, Perks for Working Late, Product or Service Discounts, Pet Care, Free Computer to Use at Home, Clothing Allowance, Retirement 401(k) Plan, Profit Sharing, Stock Options, Flexible Hours
Interview Protocol - The Basics
- Arrive at least five minutes early, but no more than ten. You do not want the interviewer to feel pressured to see you.
- Before entering the office, recheck appearance, discard gum and candy, turn off cell phones and pagers, and verify that your portfolio is complete.
- Announce yourself to the receptionist. Make sure you use the term "meeting" or "appointment" and not "interview".
- Beware that the interview starts the moment you enter the office and doesn't end until you have left the office. The staff will be observing you.
- Greet the interviewer with a warm smile and a firm handshake.
- Focus on the positive.
- Make eye contact and sit up straight. Don't fidget or you'll seem anxious.
- Do not use slang during conversation.
- Do not discuss personal issues.
- Use humor when appropriate.
- Be assertive, not aggressive.
- Promote yourself, but do not over sell.
- Do not discuss salary or benefits unless the interviewer brings it up first.
- Listen! You'll learn critical data about the company and interviewer.
- Always think before you speak.
Interview Protocol - Questions To Ask
- How will I be evaluated?
- What are the duties of this position?
- Why did the last person leave the position?
- What is the training procedure for this position?
- Who will I report to and what is the chain of command?
- How does this position interact with other departments?
- When do you expect to make a decision about this position?
- What is the goal and the future for this role and that department?
Interview Protocol - Questions to Prepare For
- What frustrates you?
- What challenges you?
- Tell me about yourself.
- Describe your typical day.
- Why did you select your school?
- What are your likes and dislikes?
- How did you get into this business?
- Describe your work style and your work ethic.
- What is your educational and work background?
- Why are you currently looking for a new position?
- What has been your toughest professional decision?
- Where are you along the process in your job search?
- How do you organize and prioritize the things you do?
- Do you think of yourself as a team player or as an individual?
- How do you work under pressure and with firm deadlines?
- Describe your greatest challenge. How did you overcome it?
- How do we stack up against other positions and other companies?
- What are your business goals for the next year? Five years? Ten years?
- How did you get along with your worst supervisor? Explain with examples.
- Why should we hire you? Why do you think you're the best candidate?
- What is the biggest mistake you have made in your career or education?
Be prepared to give examples. Never give one word answers.
You always want to elaborate, while being concise, specific and to the point.
Whatever you do, don't ramble on.
Most Common Interview Mistakes
- Acting bored or cocky.
- Not dressing appropriately.
- Coming to the interview with no knowledge of the company.
- Not turning off cell phones or electronic devices.
- Not asking good questions during the interview.
- Asking what the pay is before the company considers you for the job.
- Spamming employers with the same resume and/or cover letter.
- Failure to remove unprofessional photos/content on social networking pages, Web pages, blogs, etc.
- Not sending a thank-you note after the interview.
Thank You Note Etiquette
1. Send within 24 hours of your interview.
2. Send one to everyone you formally met.
3. Use business cards to verify titles and spelling of names.
4. Use personal or plain note cards.
5. Hand-written or hand-printed and then mailed is best, but email is better than nothing.
6. Never type or use a printer for a thank you NOTE (O.K. for a thank you LETTER).
7. Always mail or email; never fax or hand-deliver. Only send emails to the people you actually met.
Remember: Make them remember you. Reinforce: List why you are the best person for the job. Recap: Restate anything you did not make clear or forgot to mention. Remind: The interviewer of your interest and of any promises, such as a second interview or follow-up call.
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• Be concise! As a rule of thumb, resumes reflecting ten years or less experience should fit on one page. More extensive experience can justify the use of a second page. Avoid lengthy descriptions of whole projects of which you were only a part. Consolidate action verbs where one task or responsibility encompasses other tasks and duties. Minimize usage of articles (the, an, a) and never use "I" or other pronouns to identify yourself.
The most important thing to remember is to keep your interview preparation appointment with your recruiter. Your recruiter will set up a time the day before your interview for you to call them. They will then prepare you for your interview.
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