Nailed it! How to Interview Effectively

How you handle yourself in an interview is crucial in scoring your dream job.  Your accolades and resume speak a great deal about you, but you yourself need to wow the interviewer if you want to get hired.  Interviewers want to have a conversation with a relaxed and confident candidate.  In order to be that candidate, there are several things you can do to prepare yourself.  Assuming you have already written a solid cover letter, here are some tips to help you impress in your interview. interview

Prior to the Interview

  • Do your homework!

These words that Mom used to yell at you in middle school still apply today!  It is vital to conduct research on your interviewer, the company and the industry, its products, and its competitors.  You must know about the company history, values, and mission statement.  Make sure to find out where the company stands in the industry and think of some ways in which it can move past its competitors.  Look up where your interviewer(s) went to college and what his/her interests are (it never hurts to have some conversation starters.)  Also, write up some potential interview questions and respond to them out loud in a mirror.  Speak clearly with a good pace, and look confident and enthusiastic as you speak.

  • Tailor your Resume to the Company and Interviewer(s)

An interviewer is looking for a specific set of characteristics in his/her potential hires.  Catering your resume to his/her needs is of utmost importance to having a successful interview.  Use some similar verbiage that the company uses in its mission statement.  Take a look at the adjectives listed in the job requirements and show in your resume how you display those traits .  Center your document around things that add value to their organization.  The activities that your interviewer participates in speak a lot about what they value.  Cater your resume to show that what you have done can be related to his/her experiences and that you have some similar interests.

At the Interview

  • Dress Niceimage

Make sure you confirm the dress code before you head out to the interview.  Once you receive this information, make sure to dress accordingly.  Look fashionable, but not too flashy.  If you are a man applying for a job with a business attire, wear a conservative suit with a nice tie, shirt, and professional shoes.  You can always be safe by going with a clean shave.  For women, a conservative suit will also be acceptable.  Some jewelry is fine, but nothing too extravagant.  In both cases, cologne/perfume should be kept to a minimum; you do not want the interviewer to smell you before the conversation even begins.

  • Be Prudent!

Today, it is completely unacceptable to be late for an interview given the resources we have (barring any serious emergencies.)  First impressions are crucial to landing the job, so make sure you show up on time (a.k.a. be at least fifteen minutes early.)  This will show your potential employer that you pay attention to detail and have respect for their time.

  • Be Genuine

Do not try to be someone you are not.  Employers can see right through it and do not hire people who appear to be fake.  Instead, prove to the interviewer that your personality and strengths will  be a perfect fit for this position.  Not being afraid to be yourself demonstrates a great deal of confidence.  Differentiate yourself from the competition with your uniqueness and ability to accomplish goals.

  • Be Remembered

Being genuine does not mean you cannot be interesting! Make sure to prove to your employer that you have that “it” factor.  Demonstrate how you can use your past experiences to take this company to the next level.  The interviewees that get called back are the ones that make lasting impressions.  Tell a story that shows your unique set of skills and how they can be applied to the company.  If you are being interviewed by multiple people, make sure to connect someone in the room.  Find a common thread you share with that person and grab their attention.  Once you do, run with it.  Make great eye contact with that person, and convey to them that you are truly a great fit for the position.  If you can sell that person, chances are he/she can sell you to the others (if you have not done so already.)

  • Ask the RIGHT Questions 

Questions are another opportunity to prove your commitment and worth to your potential employer.  Make sure you choose yours carefully to put yourself in the best position to get the job.  Here are some solid examples:

      • What do you like most about this job/company?

Fairly simple question, but it is important to get some real insight into the atmosphere fostered within the organization.

      • Is there anything you dislike about this job/company?

It might be the case that the organizational culture is not the right fit for you; it is better to find out now rather than later.

      • Is there a chance for mobility within the company?

Chances are you will want the opportunity to grow within the organization.  Make sure it affords you the ability to develop your skills and further your career.

      • How is the work/life balance here?

If you plan on staying with this company for a long time, it is important that they respect you not only as an employee, but also as a person with a life outside of work.  Make sure they have sufficient support systems in place to help you manage your work life and personal life.

      • How do I compare to other candidates?

This lets you know where you stand, but it also shows a competitive edge and drive to do all things necessary to get this job.

      • What is the next step in this process?

Asking this puts your foot in the door with the company.  It shows initiative and as a result, makes you a more attractive candidate.

Post Interview

  • Follow Up

Send an email later that day thanking the interviewer for his/her time and consideration.  A week later, send a handwritten note that is a more in-depth letter of appreciation.  Show the interviewer that you took something away from the conversation and restate your desire to join his/her team.

 

With these tips, you will put yourself in the ideal spot to get your dream job!  Good luck!

9 Ways to Make Networking Work for You

Many people become anxious and uncomfortable at the thought of networking.   Pitching yourself to a group of strangers is daunting, at best.

These 9 simple guidelines can help you overcome your apprehension and then you can start looking forward to your next networking event!networking-image

  1. Dress up, but be subtle. It’s common advice to “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”  That being said, there is a difference between being classy and being flashy. You don’t want to be the person wearing neon yellow in a sea of black suits.  You can’t go wrong with black, navy, grey, or beige.  Just remember, the focal point should be what you’re saying, not what you’re wearing.
  1. Stay away from complimenting others’ outfits or appearances.  You may want to “break the ice” immediately by complimenting someone’s great style or accessory choices, but avoid doing this or you could spend the entire time talking about fashion instead of making a more valuable connection.
  1. Put effort into your nametag. A lot of research has been done on what your handwriting says about you.  In fact, a whole new term has been dedicated to the subject (“graphology”).  According to Visual.ly, your handwriting can reveal over 5,000 personality traits!  For example, if you connect your letters (like I do), “you are logical, systematic, and make decisions carefully.”  While you don’t need to memorize the entire webpage or change your writing, just make sure you write your name legibly – your penmanship says a lot about you.
  1. Do your research. See if the list of event attendees is available ahead of time.  It’s extremely easy to research people online – maybe someone else at the event went to your alma mater or shares your enthusiasm for online Scrabble.  This can be a great conversation starter and can help you prepare questions ahead of time.
  1. Prepare your “Elevator Pitch.” This is generally a 30-90 second statement in which you identify who you are, what you have to offer, and what you are looking for. You can pitch yourself, an idea or both.  Check out this video for an example.
  1. Offer help.  It’s often tempting to talk about yourself the entire time, but networking is a two-way street.  Ask questions, and see if there is anything you can do for the other person, even if that means connecting him or her with someone else in your network.

Keith-Ferrazzi-Quote-about-Networking-OkDork

  1. Remember names. This can be overwhelming, especially when you’re meeting a lot of new people all at once.  Try this: for example, when Ashley introduces herself , say “hi Ashley,” and as you are shaking her hand, picture the word “Ashley” in red letters on her forehead.  Trust me, it works! (Whatever you do, please don’t do this!)
  1. Stay positive.  Whether you’re attending a networking event in search of a job or for some other reason, be cognizant of what you say.  Like your mother probably used to say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!”  Word travels quickly, so never speak poorly about a person or company.
  1. Follow up.  After the event is over, connect with the people you spoke to.  You can reach out in any number of ways, from e-mail to LinkedIn.  Start off by reintroducing yourself, and then touch on something you spoke about at the event.  Finally, make sure to suggest a way to keep in touch by asking a question, offering help or advice, introducing a third party, or even asking permission to send that person a link to your blog.  You never know where a relationship will lead.

Now that you have the know-how to succeed, get out there and start networking!

Still don’t know how to begin a conversation?  Talk about PBP’s interns and our great blog!

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How’s that RESUME Look?

We all want to work at our dream job, right? So not a single day ever feels like work, right? But to get that so-called dream job you’ll need to have a killer interview. And before you can even interview you need the most important tool to sell yourself to employers, recruiters, and HR departments before they ever even meet you. What is it you may ask? It’s having an effective resume! Here’s a few tips and guidelines to improving that resume to get you through the company’s door and landing that interview.resume-interview-620x480

1.) Formatting Your Resume

Generally the first time a resume gets looked at it’s for 10-25 seconds. What’s this mean? This means that your resume better be as clear and concise as possible.

  • Be sure to use a logical format and wide margins, and clean type along with clear headings.
  • Use bullets in order to call attention to important points.
  • Apply bold and italic typeface to help guide the reader’s eye to important content.

2.) Identify Accomplishments, Not Job Descriptions

Hiring managers seek candidates who can assist them with solving a problem or satisfying a need in their company, so you’ll need to make sure your resume states how you’ve solved similar problems at past work experiences.

  • Focus on what you did in the job.
  • Include one or two top line description of the job, then list accomplishments.
  • Accomplishments should be unique, not just a list of day-to-day tasks.
  • For each point/accomplishment you should ask yourself, what was the benefit of having done what you did?

3.) Quantify Accomplishments

When it comes to reviewing resumes, a very common mistake hiring managers face every day is the use of too much industry jargon and confusing general claims. Be sure to use your resume as a marketing tool to sell your skills and strengths effectively.

  • Include specific achievements and accomplishments that will send a comprehensive picture of your marketability.
  • Quantify achievements at any chance you get by generating percentages, dollar amounts, number of employees, results, etc. These are big confidence boosters for hiring managers.tailor_255x255

4.) Tailor Your Resume for the Industry

When designing your resume you need to be aware of the industry you’re going into and what kind of territory comes with that industry. For example, the resume of someone in advertising and design has a lot more leeway when it comes to creativity with the layout compared to someone in chemical engineering.

  • When in doubt stay on the conservative side when it comes to style (not to be confused with boring… more along the lines of less flashy if you’re a chemical engineer.)
  • Essentials: Accomplishments, grammatically-correctness, error-free writing, and a clean crisp type will make the right impression.
  • When revising don’t rely on spell check… Use it, but review it many times yourself, and then get another set of eyes to look it over to get another perspective on things.

5.) Think Career Summary Versus Your Objective

What’s the difference? A Career Summary gives a brief overview of who you are and what you do. Where Objectives all sound the same: seeking a challenging position, interested in position A where I can use my skills A, B, and C in order to contribute to the bottom line. What does that tell us? Not much at all.

  • With a Career Summary you need to grab that hiring manager’s attention right from the get-go, with keeping in mind you have less than 25 seconds to make a good impression.
  • Spend a decent amount of time developing your career summary so you achieve getting their attention by accurately and effectively describing you as a solution to their problems.

6.) Network! Network! Network!

If you’re an unemployed candidate, then handing out resumes should be a full-time job. The majority of positions today are filled through networking, so contacting anyone and everyone you know with the addition of recruiters who are in a position to hire or provide insights is crucial. Networking can include:

  • Personal business contacts, people you’ve worked for or who worked for you.
  • Vendors / sales representatives you’ve dealt with in past 5 years.
  • Friends and family that work in the same or similar industries.
  • People listed in alumni directories of your alma mater.

With a solid resume you’ll greatly increase your chances of getting through the door, landing that interview, and being one step closer to securing your dream job.

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