Job Seeker Resources
The key to landing a great job is thoughtful preparation. You may have the skills to get the job done, but if you can’t properly communicate your qualifications, you may be eliminated as a candidate. Do your homework before you step into an employer’s office and get the confidence to present yourself in the best possible light.
Interview To Win
- Know yourself
Honesty is the best policy when it comes to interview preparation. Ask yourself where you see your career headed, what kinds of things you want to get out of your next job and what your strengths and weaknesses are.
- Package Your Positives
When you can recite your strengths in a clear and concise manner, you make it easier for employers to see what you bring to the table. Analyze your specific accomplishments at your previous position, and be ready to provide statistics to back them up. Bring work examples to the interview if they’re applicable to the position you’re applying for.
- Package Your Negatives
It may seem difficult to identify and explain shortcomings at a previous job, but doing so may leave a positive impression on your next employer. When someone asks about your weaknesses, remember to explain how you learned from your mistakes and took measures to improve your work. This shows an employer that you are willing to admit failures and strive to improve in your career.
- Learn about the Opportunity
Before an interview, there are some things you should know about the position and company before speaking to a hiring manager. Research the size, location(s) and sales volume of the company, as these are topics that may come up during the interview process. Learn whether the business is a division of a larger company or if it is a standalone company. Understand the responsibilities of the position and find out whom you will be reporting to if hired.
- Bring Questions
Questions are an important part of the interview process — not only for the employer but also for the interviewee. Prepare a list of questions to ask during the latter part of an interview to show that you are interested and curious about the position. These questions should be open ended in order to stimulate a two-way conversation with the employer. You may decide to ask about training opportunities, teamwork on the job, performance evaluation methods, travel considerations or simply what a normal work week looks like.
- Arrive Prepared
When it’s time to meet a potential employer, it’s important to have all the things you may need for the interview. Limit yourself to one handheld item, such as a briefcase, purse or portfolio. Use this item to store 2 pens, a notebook, 3 copies of your résumé and a page of references. Don’t forget to proofread your documents, as it only takes one spelling error to leave a negative impression.
A phone interview is often a job candidate’s first interaction with an employer, so it’s important to make a great first impression. Use the opportunity to “sell yourself” and get the employer excited about meeting you. If you are interviewing for a contract position, the phone interview is likely to be the only interview you will have.
Typically, our team will be able to tell you when to expect a phone call from an employer. We will also provide information such as who will be calling, what the position entails and additional things to know about the company. When you’re completing a phone interview, the main goal is to obtain a face-to-face interview or get instructions for moving forward with the company. Identify what problem you could solve for the employer and make it clear in the conversation.
There are a variety of interview settings, including group and individual interviews, so it’s important to be prepared for every possible scenario. Whatever the format, remember to listen closely to the questions being asked. It is acceptable to ask for clarification when you don’t understand a question, or even take a short pause to formulate your answer. One way to fill the silence when you’re thinking of an answer is to repeat the question back to the interviewer, as it is a sign of excellent listening skills.
Your responses should be specific and concise. When possible, use hard numbers for things like cost savings and revenue generated. It’s best to avoid nebulous phrases or hyperbole when describing your accomplishments. Specific examples of achievements will go a long way, but be truthful with your answers — interviewers can usually identify when someone is being dishonest. That being said, no employee is a master of everything. When you don’t have the skills being asked for, tell the employer that you are willing to put in the effort to learn them.
Fielding questions about salary requirements can be tricky, since it is unlikely that you will be able to guess the exact amount the employer has in mind. When you utilize our services, the employer will already have your salary history on file, so you can base your answer on your career trajectory (usually no more than a 15% increase) if necessary. It’s best to avoid conversations about salary altogether unless they broach the subject. You will want to use as much time as possible during the interview discussing your value to the company so they see you as an investment rather than an expenditure.
The way you use body language and present your attitude during an interview will affect the employer’s opinion of you. Even if you’re nervous, be sure to bring an attitude of enthusiasm, sincerity, openness and warmth to the conversation. Interviewers aren’t just evaluating your skills, they are evaluating whether they can see themselves working with you on a daily basis. Bring a positive and friendly attitude and chances are the interviewer will like who you are as a person.
Your positive attitude should shine through with your body language. It’s good to smile during the conversation, but don’t overdo it or it may seem fake. While the employer is speaking, nod along to show that you are actively listening to them. Be sure to avoid putting you hands on your face or neck. Maintain eye contact throughout the interview, as it will signal that you are enthusiastic about the opportunity and trustworthy. Last but not least, provide a firm handshake before and after meeting with the interviewer. This gesture signals that you are confident and happy to meet the employer.
It is better to overdress than underdress for an interview. Imagine that the company’s most important customer was coming in for a visit, and dress how you would on a day like that. This means dressing up in professional attire, even if it’s not something you’re used to. Break out that suit and tie if you want to make a positive first impression.
Besides nice attire, it’s essential to groom yourself properly before an interview. Take a shower, clean your fingernails and style your hair as you would for any important meeting or event. Go easy on perfumes or colognes (or better yet—skip them entirely), as the smell can be distracting and or even cause an allergic reaction. Last but not least, be polite and courteous to everyone you meet at the company. You never know who will speak to the hiring manager about their interaction with you.
An interview can end in several ways: You may be offered a job, you may be invited to a second interview or you may receive no further instructions at all. If you are interviewing for a contract position through STS, the employer will wait to extend a job offer until they have spoken with our staffing experts. We will work with the employer to determine things like the billing rate and payment terms if they have decided to bring you onboard. We will use our expertise to get you the best contract possible.
On your way out of the interview, remember to tell the person you spoke with that you enjoyed meeting them. Lastly, ask about what forms of communication you can expect to receive in the coming days.
Professional Interview Tips
Mental and physical preparation is an extremely important responsibility before an interview. To prepare your mind, remember the importance of understanding both the company and yourself. This way you can identify and highlight what unique skills you have that can help the business achieve its goals.
Write a synopsis of your career that describes your responsibilities and growth. Incorporate action words such as “organized” or “directed” to show that you know how to lead. Once you’ve written it all out once, start over and do it again. Repeat the process until you have the synopsis memorized. Next, on a few pieces of paper, with one job per sheet, write out the main functions you performed at each job. Finish this process by writing out the functions of the new job on a final sheet of paper, and see which ones seem to match up with your previous responsibilities.
Physical preparation is another factor to consider. A clean and professional image creates a strong first impression. Choose your best suit for the interview, even if the work environment is casual. Remember to go easy on the cologne or perfume in order to avoid distracting scents. Heavy makeup, scuffed up shoes and seductive clothing are three more no-go’s for interviews. Don’t be afraid to rehearse your opening, eye contact and voice in front of a mirror — you will feel more confident in your interactions. Do not turn to drugs or alcohol to ease your nerves before an interview, as they are not appropriate for this type of situation.
Bring enthusiasm to the interview to show that you care about the position. When you meet your interviewer, notice their mannerisms and mimic them. If they seem to be quiet and you are louder, tone down your interactions a bit to show that you can fit into the group. If the reverse is true, bring an air of outgoingness to the interview.
When it comes to answering questions, be sure you understand what the interviewer is asking before providing a response. A considerate answer after a short pause is better than a rant with no pause at all. Be honest with your responses and provide relevant examples of work situations you have encountered. Be concise with your responses, as the interviewer has their own schedule to consider.
Have a set of questions ready to ask at the end of the interview. Listen to the interviewer’s full response and do not interrupt them. Giving the interviewer space allows them to answer your question fully and shows that you have patience. Remember to respond to their answers politely and thoughtfully.
If you have a recruiter, contact them after the interview to tell them how it went. Explain your impressions of the company and the position so they can give you advice on next steps to take. Provide a thank you note to the person or people you interviewed with, as it is a courteous gesture that shows you are thankful for their time. You can write this note by hand or send it through an email. Remind the interviewer about some of your skills that would be valuable to the company and your continued enthusiasm for the position. If you ever have questions about creating a thank you note, don’t hesitate to contact us for help!
- Wait 30 minutes before making a decision on a candidate.
It’s easy to get excited about a candidate if they are a good communicator. Give it at least a half hour to mull over their qualifications.
- Listen 5 times more than you talk.
The interview should not feel like a sales pitch to the job candidate. Give the person being interviewed the chance to show their enthusiasm for the position.
- It’s the answers that matter, not the questions.
A strong job candidate may not be an expert interviewer. Give them the benefit of the doubt on questions, but pay attention to their answers.
- Create an opportunity gap.
Ensure that the candidate has a good idea of what the job entails before you ask them too many questions.
- Test all offers before making them formal.
Ask the candidate what they think about a salary offer instead of stating it as the final offer. It will give you a better idea of where their head is at.
- List your technical knowledge first in an itemized fashion.
- List your qualifications in order of relevance, from most to least.
- Quantify your experience whenever possible.
- Begin sentences with action verbs.
- Don’t sell yourself short.
- Be concise.
- Omit needless terms.
- Have a trusted friend review your resume.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread.
- Laser print it on plain white paper.
Starting A New Career
It is a common misconception that Friday afternoons are a good time to give a notice of resignation from a company. The actual best time to give notice is on a Monday or Tuesday afternoon around 4:00 PM. That way, you give your employer enough time to adjust to the change, but you don’t have to answer too many questions about why you are leaving throughout the day.
When you intend to leave a company, you should create a letter of resignation to provide to your employer. You should present this letter to your employer during a short meeting when you make your intentions clear. The content should be direct, clear and concise. Two paragraphs is typically an acceptable length.
It takes more than a letter to tell your employer that you are leaving, so set up a meeting with your supervisor at a time that is convenient to both of you. In the meeting, begin by saying you have made the decision to transition to a new company and would like to discuss how to make the process as smooth as possible for the company. That way, the focus of the meeting is on the transition and your desire to help, which will leave a positive impression. It’s important not to burn any bridges, so don’t lose your temper, make negative comments about your manager or the company, or leave without giving notice.