Building on your face-to-face time

The local economy is starting to show some signs of new confidence. Now is the time to sharpen up your interviewing strategies. Remember that you are your brand and that every part of you is under scrutiny in this process. Your cell phone, e-mail address and social media accounts should give your prospective employer every reason to spend some time taking a further look into brand you. Before you walk in the door, consider some prep work to be in order. A few points to note:
• Be prepared, do your research: the Internet will often tell you so much. Study local business periodicals and scour for advertisements highlighting your target company. Look for corporate recognition internally and externally. These things will say a lot about what makes an organization tick. In your travels, you may also be able to learn more about the individual teams within the corporation.
• Prioritize your questions: make sure you have your most important questions ready to ask. Time them throughout the interview versus loading them up at the beginning or the end.
• Budget your time: know approximately how long the interview is intended to be. There is nothing worse than a person who goes on and on, forcing the interviewer to fight to get through their questioning. Organize your thoughts.

The Interview
• This is a collaborative and interactive experience: think of it as an extended discussion in a coffee shop. Get into detail, but don’t share so much that you are long-winded or get off topic. Remember it’s about you and them, not just you. It’s a two-way street – you get to know them and they get to know you. In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell conveys this type of process as a kind of a dance. Fall into sequence together, a “conversation rhythm,” according to Gladwell, and you’ll likely find yourself with an offer.
• Listen to the question before jumping in with an answer: do not speak in general terms when you have been asked a question looking for specifics. Nervousness might have you jump to conclusions that are way off from what the interviewer is intending. Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions. And never interrupt the interviewer when he or she is speaking. We hear about this all the time.

Teamwork vs. Me-work
• While it is important for most companies to know about your ability to work as part of a team, keep in mind when the question comes about asking what did YOU do on that project? So many times we hear, “Well, we did this and we did that,” and “We came in under budget,” etc. Never does the individual reveal what his or her specific contributions were. This seemingly says the person did not have a significant role in the project. This might be totally incorrect, but could cost him or her the job.
The Paperwork
• This may be an obvious point but, surprisingly, one that’s often forgotten. Always bring a copy of your resumé for yourself as well as copies for the people that you will be meeting. If you have been asked to bring along additional documentation, make sure you have it available. Also, a thorough reference listing of past supervisors should be attached to your resumé. Make sure you have contacted the references in advance of the interview so they are aware they may receive a phone call and, most importantly, know about the position you are applying for.

One last thing. Relax. You might find yourself enjoying the job-search process. And remember, it’s not just about you.

~ Sarah McNeill

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