Getting a job today is more difficult than ever because of the high level of competition in the working world. You need a plan if you hope to land a job. Walking into an interview with no preparation can ruin your chances of getting the job. My girlfriend Robin told me that she has gone through fourteen job interviews within a six-month period. I felt bad for her because she sounded helpless and disappointed. I asked her how she prepared for the interview. She said, “I didn’t know there was any preparation involved in a job interview.” I told her many people don’t. Many people walk into an interview with no knowledge about what the job even entails. I told her that together we would develop a plan that would get her the next job.
Here are some tips that helped Robin and will also help you in getting the job you want:
Apply for jobs that you are qualified to do. You are wasting your time and energy if you are applying for jobs for which you don’t have the education or experiences. Finding out the qualifications of the job should be the very first thing you do. Applying for jobs that fit your qualifications will eliminate the number of rejection letters you receive.
Complete everything on the application. Filling out and turning in an application shows how well you follow directions and complete a task. Missing information and misspelled words could indicate to the employer that you wouldn’t be the right person for the job. You may not even have the chance to be interviewed. Every application’s requirements are different, so you really need to read carefully. Some jobs require you to turn in additional documents along with the general application. With the required paperwork, you should also turn in a cover letter and a resume.
Research the organization with whom you have applied. One of the best and easiest ways to do this is by looking at the company’s website. If they don’t have a website, check out their brochure. Another suggestion is interviewing someone who works for the company. I did this once, and the person was so nice that they told me what some of the interview questions were. Things to look for in your research are the goals and expectations of the organization so you can figure out how you can contribute to those goals and fulfill those expectations.
Come up with questions you think the interviewer may ask. Knowing the role and expectations of the position will help you to develop some questions. One question I know any job will ask is, “What education and experiences do you have that relate to this position?”
Practice being interviewed. Ask a friend or family member to help you create an interview situation. Practice from the time you would walk into the business. Have the person practicing with you ask you questions that you have come up with, and also have him or her come up with an original set of questions so you will know how to handle the unexpected.
Dress appropriately. You don’t want to walk into an interview wearing jeans and a tee shirt-you will be written off immediately. For any kind of a job, even a job at Taco Bell, I would suggest wearing a suit. If you don’t have a suit, an alternative for men would be a crisp white shirt and a tie. For women a nice dress or skirt would be fine. Dress conservatively, no flashy or wild styles. Women should have nice clean nails and light make up on their face. Men’s nails should be trimmed and clean.
Arrive at the interview ten minutes early. Arriving early not only looks good, but also gives you the chance to take a few deep breaths before walking in.
Bring a letter of recommendation to the interview. A glowing recommendation from someone who knows you can greatly influence the company’s decision-making, especially if the letter is one written by a past employer.
Think positively. Make positive statements about yourself inside your head before walking into the interview. For example, “I am awesome and I will get the job.” Always remember-making negative statements, even in your own mind, will hinder your performance, not help it.
Shake the hand of the interviewer(s) when you walk in and out of the interview. A professional handshake should be firm, not hard or limp. A firm handshake shows respect and confidence.
Take your time during the interview. Many people rush through an interview because they are nervous. Allow yourself to think and organize your thoughts before speaking. It is fine to have a few minutes of silence after a question.
Sell yourself. Let the company know what you can do for them. Share or bring something you have done that would make you marketable to their organization. For example, I interviewed for a company that I knew needed a resource directory. So I created one to take to the interview. They were very impressed and thankful. You can also create and present a personal portfolio. A portfolio can consist of work experiences, hobbies, accomplishments, program projects, references and your resume.
Be positive about yourself. Never put yourself down during an interview. An interviewer may ask you to describe your strengths and weaknesses. Come up with at least three or four strengths about yourself. When it comes time to list your weaknesses, change the word weakness to an “area of growth”. Let’s say you are applying to become a preschool teacher. You can respond by saying, “My area of growth would be to further expand my knowledge of children’s music.” You would be responding with an aspect of your career that is truly not a weakness but an area that you want to continue growing.
Show enthusiasm and interest in the position. You can do this by asking the interviewer(s) a series of questions at the end of the interview. You could even have your questions previously written out on a piece of paper to help you remember what you want to ask. Asking questions shows that you are interested in the job and have invested some time and thought into it.
Prepare a great exit line. For example, you can say, “Thank you for giving me this opportunity to be interviewed. I look forward in hearing from you.” You would say this before you shake the interviewer’s hand, leaving a positive lasting impression on the employer.
Send a thank you note immediately after the interview. You want your interviewer(s) to receive your note while your face and interview are still fresh. Thank them for considering you for the position and let them know that you look forward in hearing from them soon. They may not have decided whom they will hire so your thank you note can make a difference in their decision.
My friend Robin immediately got a job offer when she used these techniques. I was so happy for her. She told me developing a plan really made the difference. These suggestions really can help you get the job you want. Good Luck!