Congratulations! You leveraged your network, sent in your resume, and nabbed a first interview for a position that would be perfect for you. At this point, though, you’re only halfway to the point where you’ll get the job. You have to maneuver the all-important interview first. And if you’re not prepared, you could blow it without even realizing it.
Looking for a Job vs. Interviewing, aka Marketing vs. Selling
When you are looking for a job, you are marketing yourself. You are putting out the right vibes on LinkedIn and at networking events. Your resume is tailored to put you in the best light and showcase your value proposition. Looking for a job is all about getting the word out about how perfect you are for this opportunity.
The interview is a different ball of wax.
In the interview, you’re no longer marketing; you’re selling. If you want to get the job, you have to sell yourself and why you’re better than any of the other candidates the employer is considering.
As a salesperson, your goal is to get a yes. And in the case of a job interview, a “yes” is a job offer.
Your Job Interview Outline
Once upon a time, it was suggested that the job seeker should orchestrate the job interview. These days, we’re a bit savvier. We understand that an interview is a two-way communication in which the employer is learning about the employee and vice versa. If you show up ready to steamroll the process, you’re going to end your chances pretty quickly. In truth, it’s a bit of a dance. Understanding your part is key to help you get the job.
1. Have a Few Copies of Your Resume Ready
There’s no doubt that the people who are interviewing you have seen your resume. They likely wouldn’t have called you in had they not. However, they may not have seen it in the way you want to present it. Print out 3–5 copies of your resume on nice bond paper and be prepared to share them with your interviewers. You can preface this by saying something like, “I know you’ve seen my resume already, but I wanted to provide you with a nice, polished copy today. That way, you can take notes and such.”
2. Ask for Business Cards (or at Least Everyone’s Names)
Today’s interview process happens by committee. If you’re like most people, it can be a little challenging to remember all of the names of the people in the room. Even if you’re good at names, you might be just a little bit nervous due to it being an interview setting.
Many times, the people in the interview will offer up their business cards for you. If not, you’ll probably at least get the business card of the lead interviewer. And if all that fails, have your padfolio at the ready and write down the names of the people in the room. Draw arrows to where they’re sitting, if need be, and make notes about them to reference in your follow-up.
3. To Get the Job, Be Ready for Anything
Most interview questions fall into two categories:
- Can you do the job?
- Do you fit in with our culture?
To find out if you can do the job, you may be asked, “Tell me about a time when…” questions. And for the culture component, they may ask questions such as, “What do you like to do for fun?” or “How do you relax at the end of a busy day?”
If you’re qualified and prepared, these should be rather easy to address.
There’s one other question you need to be ready to answer as well, although that may occur in the second interview rather than the first: “Why should I hire you?”
4. Ask the Tough Questions
There are a few questions you should be asking in the job interview, including:
- Why is this position vacant?
- What does the onboarding process look like for this role?
- What kind of managerial style do you have?
- Is there anything I’ve shared here today that would make you feel I would not be a good candidate for this role?
You’ll learn a lot about your fit for the position and the company through the answers you receive. And that last one allows you to answer any objections, which may well help you get the job.
5. Share Your References
As you’re preparing to exit the interview, a fantastic way to close out the conversation is by presenting your list of references. The heading on this sheet of paper should match the heading on your resume, and the references should be printed on nice paper. You’ll only need one copy to provide to the lead interviewer.
Introduce the references with, “Thank you so much for your time today. I’m going to leave you with my list of references so you can do your due diligence. They’re all aware that I’m here today. I look forward to the next steps.”
Your references should all be professional (no family members or your best friend). Include three or four with their name, title / how you know them, phone number, and email address.
Of course, be sure to ask your references if it’s okay to include them. Coach them on what you want them to share (perhaps send them your resume). And call, email, or text them on the day of your interview to let them know where you interviewed, for what, and with whom. There’s nothing worse than an employer calling on a reference and being met with, “Who? Why are you calling?”
6. Get Those Thank-you Notes Out ASAP
After you leave the interview, the process is not quite complete. The very first thing you need to do is get your thank-you notes out. You can write a note immediately after, either in the lobby, your car, or a nearby coffee shop. Return to the receptionist and leave the card, telling her that you recently interviewed for the (fill in the blank) position. The other option is to pop the card in the mail that afternoon or the next morning.
For the card, just send one. Address it to the lead interviewer and make note of the other people who were in the room. Recall a topic you discussed or add an extra tidbit that will make you stand out.
In addition to a mailed card, send a separate email to each of the people you met. See, this is where those business cards you got at the start of the interview will come in handy. You can say something similar in all of the emails or something specific (remember, you jotted something down about each of the interviewers).
If you want to get the job, this one effort—sending a thank-you note—will immediately separate you from the competition.
Get the Job—and Get Prepared—with Ink & Quill Communications
At Ink & Quill Communications, we don’t just write resumes. Although we believe that the vast majority of job seekers need a great resume to help market them in their job search, we know it’s not just about marketing. It’s about selling, and we help with that too. Through our thorough consultation, we share with our clients how to get the job through applying for jobs, networking, using LinkedIn, and mastering the interview. Plus, we have a career coach who can provide additional support and coaching if needed.
We always provide free resume reviews and are available to our clients for answers to their questions throughout their search. Our primary goal is that you get the job. Send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Prefer to watch? Check out the latest episode of The Smart Minute: Job Interview Outline.