When you’re trying to grow your wealth, you can work on reducing your expenses, increasing your income, or best of all, both. In the quest for greater income, you may be one of the millions of Americans looking for a new job or trying to move up in the company you currently work for. Others are freelancing or starting their own businesses, and meeting with potential clients. Whether it’s a job interview or a meeting with a potential client, there are some key things you can do to improve your fortunes.
I spent many years hiring people from both outside the companies I worked for and within the ranks of employees trying to work their way up the corporate ladder, and I can tell you that there are several ways to stand out and get that job you really want.
Interviews are critical to career success whether you’re looking outside the company, are currently unemployed, or are seeking a promotion within. In fact, searching within can sometimes be the trickiest because we are lulled into thinking we are “among friends” when interviewing. A poor interview can actually harm your long-term career opportunities. Here are some simple things that I learned and used when judging candidates for jobs throughout my career as a manager.
1. Even before you decide to seek a new job or promotion, develop compelling accomplishment stories about yourself
Think of challenges you have faced in the past and how you overcame and solved them. Don’t make it about reports you have done, but rather how you influenced important decisions and helped save or produce revenue with your input. This is a much more effective way to impress a hiring manager.
2. Never approach an interview with fear or trepidation
Thinking of an interview as a minefield will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Always approach the meeting with an air of confidence that comes with proper planning and preparation.
3. Boil your compelling stories down to bullet points for your résumé
Often a résumé is the reason you get that invitation for the job interview and is the leave-behind document that will remind the hiring manager of your strong points. It can easily set you apart from the other candidates. Many forget to craft a high quality résumé for an internal interview. If you want to have the best chance of being hired, always present a copy of your résumé when interviewing no matter where you do it.
4. Before the interview, always research the company and position you are interviewing for
Read the annual report to become familiar with the company, its market, and its issues. Use your networking contacts to find out everything you can about the company and its culture as well as the available position. If working with a recruiter, get a job description and organizational chart to review. Work out a way to have your specific skills and interests match the qualities that are needed to make you the prime candidate. Think about which of your accomplishments best illustrate why you are the top choice.
5. Prepare a 2-minute pitch that answers the traditional opening, “Tell me about yourself”
Practice again and again so that it rolls off your tongue. It should be a quick summary of the skills, qualities, and experiences you bring to the table. Keep it to 2 minutes, no longer. You never want the interviewer to be bored.
6. Never let the interview become a simple question and answer session
Make the interview a conversation. Don’t monopolize the interview, but make sure you interject questions of your own which will make it conversational and help develop a rapport between you and the hiring manager. Occasionally, keep your answer short and sweet. Then ask if there’s anything he or she would like you to expand on.
7. Don’t forget the thank you
Never forget how important it is to thank the people who took the time to interview you. Even if you met with 5 or 6 people along the way, make sure you thank them for their time and consideration, and send them a follow up note within 24 hours of the meeting. This is a simple, professional courtesy and many candidates don’t bother with it at all. It not only sets you apart from other candidates, but it offers an excellent opportunity to reiterate what specifically you will bring to the position if hired. It will also help make you more memorable before the final decision is made.
There are some other important things to remember when looking for that new job opportunity, although some may be really obvious. Dress appropriately and be on time for starters. Don’t ask about vacations, benefits, and salary during the interview unless that subject is brought up by the interviewer. Most of that information is available from other sources and isn’t something you usually will discuss during a first interview.
Salaries can be a real quagmire when and if you are asked what you expect in order to come on board. It is my own experience that a hiring manager will offer the candidate he feels is the best a salary that is fair but can be tweaked and negotiated. The best way to handle the question of your salary requirements is to simply state, “with my knowledge and experience I feel most comfortable discussing salary when a job offer is made.” Negotiations should be based on the guidelines for the specific job salary history.
As you can see, the success of your next interview depends quite a bit on your preparation. Spend the time you need to do research and to market yourself well, and you could find your career and your income on an upwardly mobile path.
Have you been looking for a new job (or a new client)? What preparations have you made? Any success in your search?
Image courtesy of Ambro on freedigitalphotos.net (with changes)