The ultimate purpose of your resume is to land an interview. John Kalusa is a nationally recognized writer who speaks about corporate sales, recruiting, and personal career management. With more than 25 years of experience as a strategic recruiting, human resources, and sales and marketing management leader in start-ups and Fortune 250 companies, he has interviewed thousands of candidates. He offers the following tips for having a positive interview experience:
Ask questions. Kalusa explains: "You might think this goes without saying, but many candidates are not prepared to ask questions in an interview. Instead they are focused on telling their story or, as we used to say in sales, 'to show up and throw up.'"
"Just like unsuccessful salespeople, [candidates] show up ill-prepared, want to jump right to the contract signing and are so focused on describing their features and benefits, they forget to ask questions to learn about the real issues and then highlight how they can deliver the solution," he adds.
Always have at least five questions you can ask when the interviewer asks the inevitable inquiry, "What else can I share with you about ______ or the _______ position?" It's a classic interview-closing question, so expect it.
Kalusa notes: "I especially like questions from candidates who ask how the person can be seen as a top performer or how the future of the company looks given something I've read about. Asking about the culture is good too, as in 'So how long have you been with ____? What do you like most about working here? What is your biggest frustration working here?'"
Prepare to ask about things of interest to you. Learn about the person, position, company, industry, interview process, etc. The key is to ask questions about your potential "customer" that can give you an advantage, or help you decide if they are the right organization for you.
Incorporate your research. If you've done your homework, you'll already know some of the issues the company or industry as a whole is facing. If you've really thought about how the position you are applying to adds value to their company, you'll be way ahead of the competition (other candidates) and will be able to focus your responses to intrigue, inspire, and motivate the "prospect" to want to talk more. Better yet, you'll move one step closer to making him or her your next "customer."
Say thank you. In today's fast moving world, the majority of candidates don't take the time to be appreciative. Be sure to take notes during your interview(s) and then as soon as possible after the interview, send a card, a note, or an email to everyone you met with and thank them. "Be authentic. Don't gush on about everything under the sun," Kalusa explains. "Simply thank them for their time and mention one or two things that stood out in the conversation, something that you learned or if you can't think of anything, how you enjoyed the interview, and that you are interested in moving forward and believe you could be an asset to the organization."
Act as if, a.k.a., give away some free advice. Once you've interviewed for a position, consider what you would try to accomplish in the first 90 days in the job. "Put together a short outline in your thank-you or follow-up note to the hiring manager (copying the recruiter)," Kalusa suggests. "It shows interest and that you have at least thought about what you would do if hired."
Kalusa continues by reminding job seekers: "It may be hard to believe given the media focus on what's not happening, but companies all across America and around the world are indeed hiring. They are looking for the best-qualified, highly motivated people to help them achieve their business goals. It is in your best interest to be focused, be authentic, and be prepared so that your 'Company of 1™' will be seen as having the right solution at the right time and you will set yourself ahead of your competition."
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success.