|Martin Yate CPC
NY Times Bestseller
Provessional Resume Services
One day soon you are going to hang up the phone stunned. Once you’ve been out of college awhile you get a general sense that, following graduation, adults slip into the eccentric habit of occupying their daylight hours with activities which appear to have almost nothing to do with keg stands and video games. Much as you deplore such loose morals, you find yourself insensibly drifting into the bad habits of your elders, and next thing you know, you’re bookmarking job banks and sending out resumes. But as bad as things have gotten, you didn’t realize you’d hit rock bottom until you picked up the phone and the woman on the other end asked you to schedule an interview. What on earth are you supposed to do now?
| For more advice for emerging professionals,
check out “Knock Em Dead Secrets & Strategies
For First Time Job Seekers” available on Amazon
ultimately determines whether you eat Lobster or Hamburger Helper, and it demands some research and preparation, because you really didn’t get this far in life believing that, “just being yourself” was going to deliver job offers.
Will you travel, by car, bus, train or plane? Sultan Camp, an expert on military-to-civilian career transitions, spells out the correct tactics here with a military strategist’s attention to detail: “Whenever, it’s practical, you should do a practice run at the approximate time the interview is scheduled for, to assess traffic, parking, etc..” You want to be able to arrive with plenty of time to spare.
While you’re making your trial run to the interview, you might also want to take an anonymous peek inside the building to get a sense of the company’s dress code. You always dress up a level for interviews, but a sense of what people wear to work at this company can help guide your own wardrobe decisions, and a discrete trial run to the interview location can give you insight into the everyday dress codes that you need to exceed.
Don’t underestimate the importance of dress at an interview. When you’re well dressed, you not only look professional, you feel professional. You unconsciously sit straighter, smile more easily, and maintain eye contact more comfortably when your clothes make you feel like the competent professional you portray in your resume. Unprofessional dress or hygiene will immediately get your candidacy deep-sixed, but good dress doesn’t just have the negative virtue of staving off disaster: it’s the professional face you offer to the world, it is the image that defines your brand and it gives you a significant psychological boost.
Know The Company
If the interview is worth attending the company is worth researching. Your interviewer will expect you to know something about the company, and may even ask you a few questions about it. You’re not going to impress anyone if you can’t explain why you want to work for them. On top of that, a thoroughgoing knowledge of the company can differentiate you from other candidates who either didn’t do any research or didn’t research as extensively as you. Interest and excitement about the company and its product will position you as the most intelligently enthusiastic candidate, and this can be the tie-breaker in a close race.
Use Your Prep Time Wisely
Divide your time on a two-to-one ratio between these issues and your traditional interview prep. For every hour you spend on the mechanics of preparation—researching the company, your routeand means of travel, wardrobe, etc.—spend two hours with your resume preparing for questions. So if it takes two hours to research the company, invest four hours in reviewing everything that went into your resume. Then if it takes two hours to put your wardrobe together, invest at least four hours in reviewing how you will respond to potential interview questions.
Know The Job
You should take the time to learn how each prioritized responsibility of the job translates into everyday tasks. Make time to talk with networking contacts and post questions on LinkedIn groups: “I’m a recent grad and have my first interview for a _____ job on Friday. When the employer says they need good analytical skills, how am I likely to be using them on a day-to-day basis?” The answers you receive will help you understand the problems your job exists to anticipate, prevent, and solve, and what you will need to do to shine.
You need to know why each responsibility exists and how it relates to the overall responsibilities of that job, and what it takes to do the job well. Go through the job description repeatedly, comparing its required skills with the story told in your resume until you can relate any item or comment in your resume to any requirement in the job description. Then you should also do a practice interview with someone who has hired people before to get feedback on your performance.
The Puzzle Comes Together
When you combine careful physical preparations for the event and conscientious rehearsal of the connection between your resume and the job description, you’re in a position to do what hardly any recent grads—are in a position to do: reach the interview with time to spare, a thorough understanding of the job and what you bring to the table.
This preparation will give you the poise and confidence to hit home runs off even the toughest questions. And don’t underestimate the benefit of your appearance, because of all this work, and that of the next guy, who runs in five minutes late, sweating, with a coffee spill on his shirt and an embarrassing story about the bus not showing up on time.
If you were in the other side of the desk, who would you hire? For more insights on how to make a great impression and get ahead on your first job, check out Knock Em Dead – Secrets & Strategies For First-Time Job Seekers.
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