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September 09, 2015
Why is it that several equally qualified candidates can interview for a job, but only one or two will make to the second or interview or be offered a job? Clearly, each candidate had a resume or CV that warranted a callback. Therefore, it must be the interview that is causing people to be culled. So, what is it that causes people to be eliminated from consideration? Many employers cite the following:
Of course, this only outlines what you shouldn't do. It doesn't suggest what you should be doing to sell yourself during interviews. Remember that you are not the subject of an interview. You are an active participant. This means that there are steps that you can take to help secure a positive outcome. What are these steps? Keep reading.
When you talk about your duties at current and past employers, avoid weak sounding words such as helped, participated, assisted, or cooperated. Those words leave the impression that you waited to be ordered to do things and simply followed instructions. Not sure how and where to use power words? Here are a few examples:
Before: I helped the store manager by keeping the sales floor clean and organized.
After: I maintained a clean and well-organized sales floor to enhance the customers' shopping experience.
Before: I helped in staff meetings by taking notes and later entering them into a word document.
After: I assured that communication in meetings was accurately recorded and made available for future review.
Before: I assisted my manager by performing tasks such as filing, running errands, and answering phones.
After: I ensured that my boss was able to focus on mission-critical work by tackling a variety of operational tasks each day.
Power words are great. When you can add those power words to very specific statements about your duties and accomplishments on the job, things get even better. Here are some examples in which being specific can make power words even more impressive:
Before: I maintained a clean and well organized sales floor to enhance the customers' shopping experience.
After: I conceived and implemented a five step process that allowed myself and other employees to create a clean and well-organized sales floor in less than ten minutes.
Before: I assured that communication in meetings was accurately recorded and made available for future review.
After: I researched and downloaded a smartphone app that allowed me to quickly and accurately record meeting notes and then upload those notes to a word document.
Before: I ensured that my boss was able to focus on mission-critical work by tackling a variety of operational tasks each day.
After: I defined several tasks that I believed were interfering with my boss's ability to focus on managing our department. I offered to take ownership of those duties.
Companies hire people for a reason. This reason is to solve an issue that they currently have. The interview is where these issues will be identified for you. When you understand what the issues are, it is your job as the interviewee to provide specific answers about what you can do to provide a solution. For example, if the person giving the interview indicates that they have a problem having staff available to work in the evenings, this is your opportunity to let them know that you are available five evenings per week. If you are told that the current staff is struggling with a new software package that you are familiar with, it's a good idea to let them know about your experience. Of course, these examples are quite obvious. Sometimes, it takes a bit more effort to determine the problem a company is trying to solve. This is why it is a great idea to ask very specific questions about the challenges the company is facing and about the duties the new hire will need to fulfill.
Dress in nice clothes for an interview, no matter what the position is. Have a firm handshake. Look people in the eye and address them by name. If you don't know the answer to a question, just say so. Stand up when a new person enters the room. Be polite and cordial to everybody you meet from the parking lot to the interview room. Show up on time. Bring your own pen and notepad. Thank the interviewer for their time at the end of the interview no matter how things went, and send a follow-up thank you a few days later. These may seem obvious, but so many people forget these basic rules of personal etiquette when being interviewed.