Preparation and a holistic approach to the interview before, the day of and after can be used to increase a candidates ability to impress interviewers.
As the face of industry and the workforce changes, old traditions where one would spend their career with one company are being retired along with the mass of baby boomers after a lifetime of commitment and work to a single company. As Workforce.com validates, career growth now includes career and job change, with job seekers looking for roles that fit their own blend of personal and professional goals. How many times have you changed jobs or careers?
As a 2015 article by Forbes magazine points out there are a plethora of job search sites full of positions at every conceivable level, and lots of advice available on activities a candidate can take in order to increase their potential for their resume to be noticed during the first round of reviews.
As a professional who has grown my career multiple times by frequently changing jobs, industries and careers, I have had the experience of being both the job seeker and hiring Manager. I have had the opportunity of learning how to market my skills and experiences because knowing how to market yourself, regardless of the job you are looking for, is critical to you standing out and being remembered as the best candidate for the position. I have also been a witness in interviews when candidates have done a phenomenal job marketing themselves, making themselves stand out from the monotony that occurs when hosting multiple interviews, and landing them the job.
When candidates market themselves well, it makes it much easier for a hiring Manager to market the candidate to other people who might also be directly or indirectly involved in the final decision-making process. Candidates that market themselves well have already provided me with the material to be, in a way, a sponsor for them, advocating for them to be the successful applicant or at least to bring them in or a second round of interviews.
Marketing yourself needs to focus on more than just what you prior work experience has been. Your job experience is just one facet of who you are, and leaders are looking for a candidate who meet the holistic requirements of the role which extend beyond what the job activities are, but are typically not written into the details of the job description.
Candidates need to look at marketing themselves as a strategy. If you really desire to have a particular job, you need to have a plan on how to make sure hiring leaders can visualize you in the role you are applying for. That is done by giving leaders a very clear picture of the type of person and professional you are and how you are able to adapt and flex your skills.
What are some of the key marketing features you have used that have been successful?
When creating your marketing plan, think about the different steps that are involved in the interview process and have a plan to execute against each step.
1. Prior to the Interview
It pays to do your homework. Not just reading up on the company you have applied to or more about the role, but by studying yourself and your experiences. You need to breathe life into the words that somebody read on your resume. Your resume is one-dimensional but the interview will turn your experiences into a three-dimensional story and you want to have the hiring Managers engaged in your story and wanting to hear more about you.
Reflect and have ready for the interview at least a dozen strong examples of experiences where you can bring to life not only the role you played in them, but:
- How you impacted the results,
- The range of skills you used,
- Why you made the decisions you did and,
- What you learned or would do differently based on feedback of your own perception.
When candidates have provided me with specific details during interviews I am less inclined to keep digging and asking more questions on the same topic to get a picture of how they work, make decisions or problem solve.
Forbes encourages candidates to practice interview questions in scenarios as close as possible to the actual interview. This helps you to formulate responses verbally ad out loud, so that you include the important details, without being too lengthy.
2. The Day of the Interview
Getting to the interview on time is by far one of the most important events that can impact your success in getting the job. Yes, traffic can be unpredictable and in most cases you are heading to an interview straight from your current job where you have responsibilities that may need to be completed before you disappear.
If you can, travel the route that you will be taking on the interview day at the same time in order to get a sense of how busy traffic will be and if you need to give yourself extra time. It’s better to show up early than late, so catching the earlier train, leaving 30 minutes early or taking a half day off of work could mean the different of being on-time or late. If you find yourself being late or thinking you may be late, communicate it. From setting up the interview in most cases you have a contact at the company. If you cannot connect with a person, leave a voice mail, send an email. It’s like being stood-up on a date, nobody likes it.
Have you attire picked out. Ensure that you look professional. Depending on the job applied for, the typical dress code may vary. If you are unsure of what a company’s dress code is, ask when you are in the process of booking the interview. My rule of thumb is to take it up a notch if you are not sure. Better to be over-dressed than under-dressed and not looking professional.
I once had a candidate wear a suit to an interview for an entry-level position. He told me that he was dressing for the job he wanted and not the job he was applying for. How he dressed was in parallel to how he marketed his skills. He gave an exceptional overall impression where I could visualize him being successful, and he got the job.
3. After the Interview
Remember, your marketing strategy extends to even after the interview is done. Thanking all interviews for their time is polite, and you show interest when you ask what the next steps are in the process. Get a sense of the timing as to when you will hear back from the company. Once you have left, send a thank-you communication. I have had many applicants to jobs where as soon as they left my office or the building I received a thank-you email. It’s a small thing, but if all other candidates do it and you don’t it gets noticed.
If you learn that you were not the successful candidate, it may be hard to ask for and hear at the time, but solicit feedback. Feedback is helpful so that you can make changes to your strategy, know what worked well, what was noticed or not noticed. If you have applied to a job, chances are after this momentary setback, you will apply for your next job and you will have an increased desire to be on the receiving end of an offer.
Putting together a marketing strategy from how you dress to prepping details provided in interview questions may sound like a lot of work, but I can assure you, searching for the right candidate is a lot of work. If a candidate comes prepared and ready to showcase and market themselves, it not only makes it easier for me to visualize the candidate in the position I am hiring for, it makes them stand out and leaves me with an impression of increase that extends after the interview has completed, and a job offer is presented.