By Candace Waller
There is nothing more frustrating than walking out of an interview feeling great, only to be brought low a few days later when you don’t hear anything or you are informed that they are going with another applicant. In these days of high unemployment, getting interviews—in-person or over the phone—feels wonderful, but all those good feelings end in frustration if you don’t receive the job offer.
At the September 8 East Brunswick Breakfast Club meeting, Career Trainer Rod Colon gave some helpful tips on how to close the deal and get that job offer. Colon says that applicants have to listen carefully in the interview and they must have a plan. He called several audience members up to the front and went through with them step by step what they should do in an interview to get that offer.
1) Make sure you differentiate yourself in the interview.
Job candidates should understand that when they are called in for an interview, the hiring manager wants to flesh out the facts on the resume. There is a large amount of fluff on resumes that may not be discovered in a phone screening. Applicants should have examples and CAR (Challenge, Action Result) stories that illustrate that they have done the tasks stipulated in the current job description and can do it in the future for the new company.
Listening to the interviewer and asking questions to draw out information is important. Sometimes the job description will have so many skills listed that is seems improbable that one person could have all the qualifications. The savvy job candidate will be able to sift out what skills are most important to the job by asking the hiring manager what are the key skills needed for the job and matching them to their past jobs and experiences.
Colon says that even if an applicant doesn’t have experience in a particular program, they can still save the interview by speaking to an experience similar to what is on the application.
2) Make sure you are knowledgeable about the company.
Many a potential job candidate has missed out on a job offer by not understanding the company. The savvy job candidate goes into an interview knowing key facts about the company and the company’s future needs. This goes beyond visiting the corporate web site although this is a good place to start. The public library is a great resource for finding out about a company you want to work for and the reference librarian can point out several print and online sources.
The savvy job candidate also checks out LinkedIn to see if they have any connections that have worked at the company that could provide further insight, particularly in the area of company culture. Nothing wows a hiring manager more than speaking to a candidate who truly understands the company and can match their skills and experience to the company’s current needs.
3) Make sure to follow-up and get contact information for everyone you speak with.
This goes beyond sending a generic thank-you letter. Hiring managers say that very few people send thank-you letters following interviews. It is more effective to not just send a thank-you note for the interview, but to use that opportunity to further sell yourself for the job. During the interview, the savvy job candidate asks questions about the qualities the successful candidate needs to have, the future needs of the department and the company, and the hiring process, and then includes that information in the thank-you letter.
The thank-you letter is the perfect opportunity to elaborate on an issue that came up in the interview. These types of letters make a job candidate stand out from the pack and can sway a hiring manager to make you an offer.
The savvy job candidate recognizes and makes sure any communication with the company is a chance to further sell themselves and their fit for the company. Finding out the hiring manager’s time-line will let the job seeker know when they should follow-up with a phone call or email.
4) Make sure you treat your job search as a business endeavor.
Colon says that the successful candidate treats the job search as a business and doesn’t take the process personally. Companies are looking for someone that has the skills to do the job but they are also looking for fit with the company’s culture. The savvy job seeker uses organizing, planning, and appropriate and timely communicationto make them stand out from the pack.
5) Make sure you find a mentor that is a not a yes person.
Colon suggests that job seekers find someone who will give them interviewing tips, point out flaws, and give tough advice when necessary. This person can provide insight from a hiring manager’s perspective and help the savvy job candidate focus. The savvy job seeker looks for someone in the field or company that they hope to work in because that person is usually up-to-date on trends and industry needs.
A good mentor can by critiquing the resume, cover letter, and professional marketing plans. They should also be a good source for contacts. Understanding industry trends and having key contacts can differentiate the savvy job seeker—resulting in that coveted job offer—from other people who are following an outdated job searching script.
Rod Colon is a successful Career Coach and the author of “Win the Race for the 21st Century Job.” He is a sought after speaker and hosts a weekly radio show, answering job seekers’ questions and speaking on job related issues, 8 a.m. on Sundays with Frank Kovacs at 107.7 FM.