today’s competitive job market, the most assiduous candidates take extra steps
to distinguish themselves from the competition by planning ahead. Here are some tactics to help you stand out
in a crowd:
Talk about your achievements. For example if you’ve built
something or you improved something, leading to beneficial results, employers
want to hear about it.
Talk about how your job impacted the "big picture". Talk
about your team's impact on the company as a whole. Employers want someone who
has a passion to work with others. You have to enjoy relationships with people.
Life - and top finance performance - is often about people, not things. Words
are powerful: use "our" and "we" more than "I"
and "me" in your interviews.
Show confidence. Confident people have a clear vision of what they
can do, and freely admit their limitations. Admit your limitations and show
that you are attending courses to continue to learn new concepts.
Don't put "see resume" on your job application. It
suggests laziness, lack of thoroughness or that you are trying to hide
something. Fill out the entire job application form.
Know the difference between leadership and management. Employers
want leaders, not just managers. Be ready to show examples of your leadership.
Having the ability to lead and motivate others is often due to your attitude
towards people. If people sense you genuinely care about them, they'll follow
you nearly anywhere.
Always bring a collection of your past work to an
interview. This portfolio can include articles, reports, proposals and other
writing and work samples. Employers like to know that candidates have taken
initiative and completed successful projects in previous positions, and
concrete examples are a great way to show off your past accomplishments. If a complete
portfolio isn't a possibility, prepare a list of past projects and
accomplishments to give to the interviewer.
A complete list of references is an important tool
to have with you on an interview. Don't wait for the interviewer to ask-give
them the list and let them know that you are comfortable with past employers
speaking on your behalf. If possible, you could even provide letters of
recommendation from your references, giving your interviewer an immediate idea
of how happy past employers have been with your work.
Be prepared for the interview by reading through
company materials and the company's web site. Then print out the important
pages of the site and take them with you. They will serve as a great review of
the company while you wait to be interviewed. You can also use them to ask
questions about the company, and the interviewer will know that you have spent
time researching the company prior to the interview.
A final suggestion: bring a list of questions. An
interviewer will almost always ask you if you have any questions, and you may
not always be able to remember them after a long or demanding interview. If you
pull out a list of your questions (and also add notes to it during the
interview) you will be sure to ask all of your questions and get the answers
you need to make an intelligent decision. This also demonstrates your
responsibility in preparation and genuine interest in the company.
Don't forget to make copies of everything you bring
to leave with your interviewer. They serve as excellent reminders of you and
your interview once you have left the office. When you are being compared with
other candidates for the job, an excellent project sample or glowing letter of
recommendation can be very persuasive on your behalf.
the company. Find out as much as you
can about the organization before the interview. You may want to check out the
firm’s web site for its mission statement and goals, as well as the company’s
past financial performance. You can also read analyst ratings, scan the
company’s annual report or search for media coverage. If possible, talk to
someone who currently works at the organization or has worked there in the
intelligent questions. Once you’ve
done your research, come up with some questions of your own to ask about the
company, the department and the job responsibilities. Ask the interviewer to
describe the firm’s long-term goals and its position as compared to
competitors. When appropriate, add your own insight based on what you’ve
learned through your research. Try to formulate open-ended questions that will
provide you with deeper insight about the business.
up. Pay close attention to the person interviewing you. To be a good listener,
you need to focus your full attention on the speaker and try to avoid thinking
about what you will say next. Maintain eye contact and use nonverbal cues, such
as nodding, to show interest in what he or she is saying. Ask for clarification
when anything is unclear, and paraphrase to ensure that you understand what was
your answers brief. Your responses should be focused and concise. It’s okay to think for a moment before
answering questions; in fact, a moment of silence can make your response seem
more thoughtful. After you have finished
answering a question, avoid the urge to fill in the silence with
“chatter.” Natural pauses allow the
interviewer to absorb what you have said.
easy on the “charm.” Although you want to appear personable, don’t overdo
it. Concentrate on demonstrating that
you have the skills and attributes the job requires. If you focus to heavily on “winning over” the
interviewer, you may come across as insincere.
However, if you are honest and enthusiastic, the rapport between you two
will develop more naturally.
yourself. Let your personality shine through during the interview — your
interviewer wants to get to know you.
Additionally, you’ll feel more comfortable because you aren’t putting on
an offer. If the interview goes well and you know you’d like the position, you
might offer to solve a problem, provide additional samples of your work or
spend a day on the job for free (if you are able to). You may get turned down, but your offer will
show initiative and enthusiasm.
for what you want. If you like the job description but the salary or benefits
don’t fit your needs, find out if these aspects are negotiable. Perhaps you
could ask for more vacation time or another benefit such as flex-time.
something behind. Take something to the interview that you can leave with the
hiring manager to help her remember you. It might be a piece from your
portfolio, an example of work done for your previous company or even a project
from college that is relevant to the job.
The following are tips for acing the lunch
punctual. People often have a limited amount of time for lunch and tardiness
can be particularly irritating. If you are going to be more than five minutes
late, telephone the restaurant and ask the maitre’d to let the person you’re
meeting know when you’ll arrive.
your manners. The rules your mother taught you probably still apply. However,
if you need to brush up on your etiquette, you may find it helpful to consult a
manners expert online for your in-depth queries, particularly if the restaurant
you will be attending is an upscale one.
your host guide the conversation. The general rule is to avoid business talk
until your order has arrived. Ask thoughtful questions that are not overly personal,
and listen carefully to the responses. While initial small talk can help smooth
ensuing communication, in an interview situation your host may prefer to
initiate a professional discussion earlier, so follow his or her lead.
about what you’re ordering. Select a moderately priced meal. If you are paying,
you do not want to appear cheap by selecting the least expensive item, and if
your potential employer is paying, you do not want to cost him or her an
exorbitant amount of money. Be decisive about what you’d like, and avoid dishes
that are messy or difficult to eat, such as ribs or spaghetti. It is usually
safest not to consume alcohol, even if your host orders a drink — you want to
polite to your server. Your treatment of wait staff reflects your level of
professionalism and how well you work with others — so treat your waiter or
waitress with respect. It’s okay to return a meal that is not what you ordered,
as long as you do so courteously.
your host your undivided attention. Turn off your cell phone or pager and focus
on the interview. Avoid leaving the table before the meal is concluded, and
never accept a phone call while at the table.
Show candor. As with any interview, it’s
generally not a good idea to volunteer any information that could call into
question your ability to perform the job for which you are being interviewed.
It’s still important to try not to respond too defensively to questions whose
answers might bring to light certain “weaknesses” in your background. The
challenge here is to be aware, ahead of time, of those areas that you’d like to
improve so that you can admit to them, but at the same time, point to strengths
that offset them.
Don’t over-answer. Because there is often more
noise and distraction at a restaurant, the interviewer may be more blunt or
direct with her questions than she would be if you were at an office. Try to
keep your answers as focused and brief as possible. Don’t feel obliged to fill
any silence that follows your answer with additional information. Let silence
work in your favour, giving the interviewer time to absorb what you’ve
the lunch on a positive note. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules
regarding responsibility for the bill. Often the company will pay for a lunch
interview — but be sure to have cash on hand if this is not the case. Cash
prevents the awkward happenstance that your credit card is not accepted. Be
sure to shake hands with your host, and thank her for the meeting and the meal,
if she paid.
The Interview Follow-Up
You've just finished an
interview for a job you'd love to have. Now what?
Immediately send a thank you letter to the
interviewer. This is
a very effective method for expressing your gratitude and genuine interest in a
position. Show your appreciation for their time and mention how much you look
forward to hearing from them. Be sure to set a target date in the letter when
they can expect a follow up phone call from you. Two weeks is usually an
appropriate amount of time, and allows the employer to get back in touch with
you earlier if they want to.
Develop further questions about the position and the
of additional things you would like to know about the job, such as potential
for growth in the organization or continuing education. This is a great way to
keep interaction going on with the interviewer, keeping you fresh in their mind
when it comes time to make a decision.
Try to arrange a second interview. Find out if the employer is
holding a second round of interviews. If so, express your interest in speaking
with them again and learning more about the job opportunity. If you are called
back for a second interview, try to be the first or last candidate they meet in
the second round. This can help you stand out a bit more among a group where
everyone is most likely being seriously considered for the job.
Make connections with as many people as possible. If you do make it back for a
second interview, make an effort to meet others on the team. In addition to
your interviewer, you might ask to meet with the peers you would be working
with or the other management staff who would oversee your work. Making a good
impression on more than one team member can be highly valuable when they have
to make a tough decision between candidates.