With January underway, the beginning of the new year can only mean one thing – job hunting season has begun. Recruiters have probably started to swarm your campus and your mom has probably started to ask you what you’re doing this summer, so now you’re TOTALLY FREAKING OUT. Luckily, you’ve managed to score at least one interview for a job that you know will be the perfect fit so no you just need to make sure you nail it. Here are 9 tips from my time as a hiring manager that will help you nail the interview.
1. Use action words on your resume.
With the age of technology and online job portals, most jobs get hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants. One of the easiest tools that employers will use to screen out applicants is taking a look down the left hand side of a resume. What are they looking for? Keywords. You’ll want to make sure that under each of your experiences, the first word of each bullet point is an action word. For example, if you’re applying for a job that requires customer service skills, you want to make sure that one of your experiences has an action word related to a skill typically found in customer service:
– Interacted with customers to make them feel at ease, while focusing on Key Performance Indices.
– Developed attention to detail by balancing till, keeping track of the number of items in each fitting room, and adhering to visual standards as set out by head office”
2. Write a strong cover letter.
If you’ve made it past the numerous rounds of resume screening, you can bet that your cover letter is going to get a hard look. There is nothing worse than a generic cover letter or one chock full of spelling mistakes. Listen, I know they are hard to write. And I KNOW that when you’re applying to a lot of jobs it’s tempting to just submit the same one and change the company name. But the truth is, that’s a one way ticket to the garbage bin. Your cover letter is your chance to show how the really obscure volunteer thing you did once upon a time that actually helped you develop a ton of transferable skills that will help you excel at THIS JOB. It’s also the way to show off your personality. I want to hire a person that WANTS to come to work everyday, not someone that’s just here for a paycheck.
3. Do your homework and come prepared.
Chances are you’re going to be able to find something online about the company that you’re applying to. If you’re applying to a startup, know about why they got started and the changes they’ve made since getting started. If you’re applying to a well established organization, look for trends in the industry and understand how the job you’re applying to fits into those trends. You don’t have to be an expert, but show that you put some thought into applying and didn’t apply just because.
4. Dress the part.
This seems pretty straight forward. Dress to impress. You don’t have to wear a ballgown, but make sure it’s appropriate. Absolutely no jeans. The expectation will definitely change depending on the industry, but at the bare minimum you should always wear a blazer or collared shirt and try not to wear anything too bright. Check out this Pinterest board for a ton of inspiration.
5. Answer using the STAR method.
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Results. Use this acronym to make sure that you are answering each question to the best of your abilities. This is ESPECIALLY important if the interviewer tells you that they will be using behavior based interview. For example, you’ve told me that your team managed to raise a recording setting $10,000 for the local pet shelter. Often people will forget to highlight their role in the whole shebang, and I’m left wondering how YOU helped fundraise the $10,000. Generally, if you’re not giving that information up front the interviewer is not going to ask. Don’t forget to sell yourself.
6. Sell them your personality.
The trend in hiring is to pick people based on “fit” and “attitude over skills.” This is because I can teach you how to use a software, I can’t teach you how to have a personality that fits the office culture. If you don’t find you fit, chances are you’ll leave in under a year and that’s a waste of everyone’s time. If this is a place where you see yourself fitting in, that’s a good thing! Use that to your advantage and make sure that your personality shines through!
7. Ask a question at the end.
My biggest pet peeve is people who only ask about pay or other benefits. This is your chance to show that you did your research and that you were listening to the employer as they were interviewing you. One question I always ask at the end of my interview is “What is one question you had hoped I would ask but didn’t?” Take this and flip it on the employer. When they ask you “Do you have any questions?” you could try “Yes. I was wondering why you didn’t ask me X question because of Y and I would like to answer it if possible.” This just gives you one more chance to highlight something that the employer might have missed!
8. “What’s your biggest weakness?”
Nothing irks me more than hearing someone try to say “My biggest weakness is actually a positive.” BORING. This doesn’t prove to me that you are able to critically evaluate your own performance and troubleshoot to improve. Tell me that your biggest weakness is actually your organization skills. BUT then you have to tell me the strategies that you are employing or trying to employ to improve. Growth is always good.
9. Be nice to the secretary.
Your interview starts the second you walk into the door. Sometimes when it’s hard to decide between the right candidate, I’ve seen people ask for the secretary’s opinion, and that’s because they got to see the real you. We all know you’re putting on your best game face when you’re in the interview room, but basic respect for ALL co-workers is important. If you can’t even do that your first time in the office, what makes me think you can do it when you’re hired?
Applying for jobs can be incredibly daunting, exhausting, and demoralizing. Remember, if you’re lucky enough to have landed the interview, you’ve only gotten through half of the battle. Now that you have all these tips and tricks under your belt, you have no excuse to not land the job! It’s definitely no fun to go through the process, but once you land your dream job, it’ll all be worth it! Now go get one of those job things!
Featured Image via Pexels.