Part 1 of 2
By Bernard Freeman
#1 Do your homework
One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to get to know the company.
When you show interest in the overall mission and are knowledgeable about their accomplishments, it shows an interviewer you are serious about getting on board.
Where to Find Information
Today’s technology gives job seekers awesome tools to research a company. If they have a social media presence, that’s a great place to start. A simple search of their name can reveal charitable contributions, performance milestones and additions to their team. Be sure to mention things you relate to, regarding the strides they are taking to grow.
Former or current employees will also give you an interesting perspective in how the company operates, internally. Reach out to your peers who have or had a relationship with the group to find out what they expect and what they look for in prospective hires.
Prepare for the Interview
Now that you know a little more, you should know how to share your research during the interview. Blatantly spouting out information can make you come off cocky or bland. Instead, plan how you will incorporate what you learned into the conversation.
When a hiring manager asks if you have any questions about the company or position, it’s a great time to incorporate some of your research. You can ask them about recent milestones they made and what it took to achieve them. The more prepared you are with how you will present the research will make both you and the interviewer more comfortable during your meeting.
Research Clients and Services
Before you go into an interview, it’s also helpful to know the types of services you will be offering and a general idea of the clientele you reach out to. Understanding the crucial components of every operation, can help you strategize an effective way to stand out once you’re hired.
#2 Make an impression
The peers in your career can make or break your chances of landing a job if a new employer receives degrading information. In fact, career experts at Monster Worldwide Inc. report that hiring managers removed about 21 percent of candidates from consideration after speaking to their professional references.
Why References Matter
While you may impress a hiring manager with a solid performance at the interview and a resume that shows you’re qualified for the job, a reference is sometimes the determining factor to narrow down potential employment. Here are a few common questions your new employer may have for your list of references, from OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service:
- 36 percent inquire about past job duties and experience.
- 31 percent want to know about an applicant’s strengths and weaknesses.
- 11 percent will ask to confirm job titles and dates of employment.
It’s important to be honest when filling out your resume, as managers will likely eliminate you from consideration if a reference cannot backup the information you provided.
Who to Ask
Most employers only require a handful of professional references when you apply for a position. Because of this, make sure to choose people who you know will give an honest review of your qualifications. Who to include can depend on what type of position you are applying for. For instance, when entering upper management, ask for permission from previous managers. If you are trying to land an entry-level job, include both professional peers and supervisors. The right mix of people can give you the upper hand when negotiating for a new career.
Networking is a big part of the job search. Remember to say thanks to your references who take time out of their busy schedule to promote you to a potential employer. You never know when they may need a kind word. Let them know you are willing to return the favor.
#3 Mind your manners
One important strategy which job hunters forget is the power of sending a thank-you letter after an interview. It is a welcome gesture from hiring managers and emphasizes your interest for the position. Timing is everything when sending the document, especially if a decision will be made quickly.
Is it Really Important?
The simple answer is yes, but the reasons why will show you the importance of this beneficial note. A recent study performed by CareerBuilder revealed that 22 percent of employers are less likely to hire a candidate who skips sending a thank-you letter. Even more encouraging, 91 percent of hiring managers enjoy being thanked, which puts you in a positive light. Don’t wait too long, Monster Worldwide Inc. recommends sending the thank-you note 24 hours after the meeting.
What to Include
Never send a generic response or copy a template you found online; this should be a personal letter which helps your submission stand out. Consider these tips from the American Management Association when crafting the perfect follow-up to an interview.
Restate your value. Reiterate the qualities that make you a strong fit for the position and continue your interest in the opportunity.
Be specific. Emphasize points from your conversation which impressed the hiring manager and showcases your qualifications.
Keep it short and sweet. Don’t ramble on.
Getting to the Right Hands
How you send your letter should rely on how the interviewer contacted you initially. For instance, a company who used email to schedule your meeting or ask questions should receive their note in the same way. The advantage of electronic mail is it will be received immediately.
However, if your contact has been limited to physical letters and phone calls, you should consider sending a follow-up through the mail. Obviously, the downside here is it will take a few days before it is in a hiring manager’s hands. However, the gesture will make a big impression as they make a decision to fill the position.