Achieving a Successful Interview
If you have completed the actions suggested in Parts 1, 1A, and 2, you have defined a job that should provide more satisfaction and money than you are getting now.
On the other hand, if you have decided to stay in the same neighborhood, keep the kids in the same school, and live near the relatives, you have already decided to limit your choices. Remember this decision if the new job is less than satisfactory.
The big step in getting hired is to set up the right interview.
If you have done your job definition well, you should know what potential employer you will be talking to. Before you set up the interview, you need to figure out how you should present yourself and what kind of resume will be required for the interview.
Let’s take the resume first, as this is the easiest to do.
Keep it simple. Begin with a summary paragraph that presents your experience in a few well-chosen sentences that will make sense to the potential employer.
Keep your resume as short as possible. Limit your listing of employers to the last ten years. Punch up the money you made for your past employers and the contributions you made while you were with them. If you have gaps in your employment, you need to show that you were studying, or consulting or writing a book – or doing volunteer work – some acceptable version of your unemployed activity.
If this new job is in a slightly different field than your old jobs, make sure that you present your experience in a way that this new employer can see that it is valuable. Your experience in corporate acquisitions may need to translate as experience with business partnerships or vendor management. Esoteric project management skills or Six Sigma training may need to come across as ability to work successfully to achieve productivity in areas lacking organization. Your proposal writing experience may have to translate as grant application skills or a contract administration ability.
When your resume is complete, make a three-quarter page summary version of this resume for sending with letters. This brief resume does two things: it is easily read and it will invite questions if the prospective employer is interested. You can also carry this resume with you for situations where you meet someone who might help you.
How will you present yourself at the interview?
First of all, you are better off acting as naturally as possible. Find out how job applicants typically dress in this prospective workplace. It may not be how employees dress. If you have not interviewed for many years, there are often classes for people who are preparing to reenter the workplace. They can be a big help.
Whatever you do, you need to be able to present yourself as easily and naturally as you can. If you lack confidence, I strongly suggest you drill being interviewed. Have your spouse or friends be the interviewer and drill many different situations until you feel prepared to do the real thing. Make sure you ask questions that will tell you what the hiring company is really like. This part will build your confidence quickly and may even be fun.
Now, lets set up some interviews.
For practice, you can respond to some interesting ads in the paper or on-line. Do not post your resume on-line and do not spend too much time with with classified ads or headhunters/employment agencies. These are best used as a warm-up for the main event. The truth is that 85% of all job placements is done by personal recommendation. The millions of dollars spent in classified ads and search fees fills less than 15% of all jobs. Chances are, you will get your next job through an acquaintance, a friend of a friend, or someone you meet at a mixer.
Start getting the interview that will get you your next job by telling everyone you know that you are looking for a job as a “…..” If there is a specific employer in mind, add that to what you tell them. When I say everyone, I mean your neighbors and your barber/hairdresser too. You may find that trusted co-workers have all sorts of useful contacts for you. You will be amazed at what turns up! People know so many other people who are looking for someone with your skills.
Use your contacts to set up interviews with the most likely prospects. Call or write letters as appropriate and see if there is interest in what you have to offer. If not, ask if someone else in the company needs your skills. Keep prospecting until you hit gold.
Once the interview is on, get a haircut and a good nights sleep. Arrive on time with a good idea of what you need to find out about this job opportunity. Be friendly and professional, not effusive. You will do best if you ask questions and listen carefully to the answers. Making sure you understand every question asked before you respond to it. Keep your answers short and to the point. Ask as many questions as they do. Satisfy yourself that all of the seven points mentioned in Part 1 are covered. If they are, your interview will probably go well.
One the interview is over, they may ask you to have lunch with tham. That’s when the real interview begins. Do not let down your guard and start sharing your political, religious or other closely held feelings with them. They do not need to know you believe the earth is flat or that the secretarial pool is an executive playground. You merely continue to ask questions about whatever they are asking and confine your comments to business matters if possible. This may also reveal if they have some hidden social or sexual agenda. Just consider that this lunch is where you get to see their other side, the people behind the masks. It will help you decide whether to accept or turn down their offer.
These people may become your best friends in time, but it will not happen overnight. You will do better if you do not share your entire employment history with them. After all, if it was that good, you would still be there. Leave the past alone, except for those experiences which will show you are well prepared for this new job.
If the interview did not go well, figure out if you were unprepared or if the company was missing one of the seven points I mentioned earlier. Get better prepared for the next interview and you will eventually close one successfully.
Congratulations! In the next post, we will cover a few points on keeping this new job.