Have you ever been puzzled when you didn’t receive an interview for a job that you were completely qualified for?What you might not know is that your actions leading up to scheduling the interview may have excluded you before you could ever sit down for that one-on-one meeting.
When we hear the word “interview,” we think about dressing to impress, practicing answers to questions, sitting in front of a hiring manager striving to say all the right things. But from the minute you make contact with an employer, you are interviewing. Your actions can speak volumes long before you make it to the formal meeting.
Follow these tips to help you land that interview, and get a better understanding of how your actions can affect your chances:
Quality over quantity
Applying for hundreds of positions does not increase your chances. Sending out hundreds of form cover letters and résumés indicates to an employer that you are not really excited about their position, but rather that you will take any job that will take you—not so appealing!
Taking the time to apply for 5-10 positions that you are qualified for and tailoring your résumé and presentation to each will make you much more successful.
Keep your search organised
There is nothing worse than an employer calling you, and you not remembering the position you applied for or having to ask for the job description.
Again, this indicates to employers that their job was not really that interesting or important to you. It also can speak volumes about your attention to detail and the organizational skills you will apply to the job.
Your communication must always be professional
Whether it is over the phone, through email, or in person, you should always use the highest standards of communication. Be sure that things like your email address and voicemail are professional as well.
How you communicate throughout the process indicates to your potential employer how you might communicate with clients or other team members if they were to hire you.
Treat every interaction like it is the first time you are making an impression
Don’t let your guard down. Every time you interact with an employer, you leave an impression. For example, if you’re stopping by their office to drop something off, dress professionally. You never know who will see you.
If you can’t follow directions in the interview process, will you break the rules when they hire you? For example, if the posting says “no phone calls please”—don’t call!
Always do more than the bare minimum
Job searching is a lot of work, and it will require much of your time to do it effectively. It can be tough sometimes, but you must keep your job-searching stamina up. Take every step necessary to go above and beyond in order to make yourself stand out.
Be available, at the right time
Make sure that you are available to return employer calls or schedule interviews in a timely manner. Calling them back a week after they called you can indicate that you’re not that interested, and it may make you miss the interview process.
Also, when an employer calls, think about where you are before picking up. If you’re somewhere that would not be appropriate to talk to someone professionally—on a loud, busy street corner or in your company cafeteria—don’t pick up your phone. Be sure to remove yourself from distractions when you’re talking to potential employers.
Every time you send a résumé, have an interaction—for example, a career fair or networking event—or go for an interview, take the time to follow up.
A quick call to check the status of your application, an email to thank them for their time, or acting on a tip they gave you can demonstrate that you are the kind of person they want working for them—someone who gets the job done without being asked.
Every action you take can make an impression on a potential employer and can make or break your chances. So the true answer to the question: When do you start interviewing? The minute you make contact.
Amy Michalenko is the Career Services Manager of the Fresh Start Women’s Foundation in Phoenix, AZ.
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