How to Get a Job Interview
And why you’re probably not…
With more and more jobs being shipped overseas and human jobs being replaced by robots, the job market is becoming more and more competitive. I have been through a wide range of jobs throughout my life and have had my fair share of job interviews over the years. Now that I am in a management position, I have a key role in hiring and the shoe is on the other foot. As a manager, I have read through 100s of cover letters and resumes and have interviewed dozens upon dozens of candidates.
But some of these resumes I look at just make me scratch my head and wonder how some of these people have EVER gotten a job (or even get through daily life). While most of what you are about to read should seem like common sense, you would be surprised at how many candidates just don’t know the proper etiquette for getting a job interview. So I’m going to show you some basic tips on how to get a job interview and some reasons why you’re probably not.
*I’m based in USA, so these tips might not apply in other parts of the world. Read at your discretion.
Where to Find a Job
Choose the right medium to find a job
I have actually found almost every job I’ve ever had through Craig’s List believe it or not. It is a great resource and lots of employers like it because it is affordable. It used to be free, but with so many scams out there, they started charging – hopefully to weed out some of the fake posts. I have tried Monster and Career Builder in the past, but from my experience I just ended up with a ton of spam and no longer trust those sites. Indeed is also a fabulous resource for finding a job. I have also found a few jobs just by going to the company’s website and applying directly from there. Many companies have a link for careers that you can look through to see if they have any openings. You can even feel free to give them a call to find out who the hiring manager is, get their email, and send them a beautiful cover letter and resume (which I’ll get to in a minute). You might be surprised to find out that there actually is an opening and request a job interview. Or at the very least, you have made a valuable contact should something ever come up in the future.
Watch out for scams!
It is really unfortunate that there are several places that will kick you while you are down on your luck. Any place that asks for a photo is something to be wary of. Unless you are interviewing for a modeling or acting job, there is no reason why you should have to send in your picture! Also any place that asks for any sort of fee or payment is obviously something to stay far away from. You are trying to make money, not spend it! If you want to know if a company is legit, do a little research and look them up online. If the ad does not have the company name on there but lists a phone number, you can try calling and find out for yourself. If it is a larger firm, you can check out the site Glassdoor to read reviews by actual employees.
The Cover Letter
Yes, you need one.
Once you found a company that you think you would be a good fit for, make sure you read the description and send a really great cover letter. This is really important! If I get a resume without a cover letter, I usually skip it and won’t even look at the resume. I want to know who you are and why you think you would be a good fit. This is the first impression you are going to make on a potential employer so make it count.
Remember, it’s not all about you.
You can brag a tiny bit, but also make sure you let the company know what you can do for THEM! Bonus points if you actually use the company’s name in the letter. You can have more than one type of cover letter for different industries you are applying to, just make sure the one you send is relevant to the position you are applying for. You can use this opportunity to tell the employer a little bit about yourself, how you came to this point in your life, explain any gaps in employment, and why you are the right candidate for the job.
Check your spelling!
With the invention of computers and spell check, there is no excuse for poor spelling. But sometimes spell check can miss words that might be correct but spelled out of context. Even if you think it is perfect, have another set of eyes look at it to be sure. This is especially important if you are applying for an office job where attention to detail is of utmost importance. If you can’t spell properly or write poorly, then your ability to perform the job will be questioned.
Keep it current.
Make sure your resume is up to date when applying for a job. It drives me crazy when candidates come in for an interview and talk about a relevant job they had but it’s nowhere to be found on the resume. Then they make excuses by saying they forgot to update their resume. Excuses are a turn off and makes the employer question your integrity and honesty.
Keep it relevant
Include information that pertains to the position. Just like it is okay to have more than one cover letter, it’s also okay to have more than one resume for each industry you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a receptionist job, but all of the experience listed on your resume shows that you were a cook in a restaurant, you will have a very difficult time. But if you have ever worked as a receptionist, even if it was 10 years ago, make sure that is prominently listed on your resume. We want to see what skills you have that will apply to the position we are trying to fill.
Flipping through hundreds of resumes is time consuming and boring. So if you want to make an impression, make yours stand out! You don’t have to get too crazy, but a nice graphic at the top is a really great touch. One of my all-time favorite resumes was one with a caricature of the candidate which we all thought was extremely cute and clever (unfortunately, she never showed up for the interview). There was another one who used emojis to describe their proficiency at specific skills. It was really unique and definitely helped him land the job! Even if you don’t have the graphics skills to do all that, having it formatted nicely can go a long way. Here is an article written by Mallory McInnis from Buzzfeed with some super cool resume ideas.
Use bullet points.
They make your resume easier to read and they are effective at drawing attention to things you want to highlight. They also look cool, right?
Lengths of time
You don’t have to list actual dates, month & year is fine. But an employer wants to see longevity. If your resume shows that you hopped from job to job every few months, this does not reflect well on you as an employee. We want to know that if we are going to take the time and resources to train you, that it will not be a waste of our time or yours.
Keep our interest
You don’t have to relegate your resume to just one page, but try to make sure it is not longer than two. Print it out to see how it will look when a potential employer is going to look at it.
Check your email
Have a professional email address. ILuvPuppies@xmail.com might be cute, but it isn’t really professional. You might want to create a special email with your full name just for your job search.
We check references
Have a separate list of references available as well. The most important ones are former employers or co-workers. This is why it is so important not to burn bridges!
Enough with the duck face!
I’m going to be honest. When I find a candidate I like, I’m going to do a little research on them before I call them in for an interview. If you have an active social media account like Facebook and are currently looking for a job, I don’t want to find photos of you smoking a joint or see posts about how bad your hangover is. If you want to get drunk on your own time, that’s fine and dandy, but if you are looking for a job, either make your profile private or be mindful about what you post. The same can be said for after you get the job. Just be careful who may be checking you out. And they will be checking you out.
On the flip side, your social presence can also be used to sell yourself too. LinkedIn is a great free site for networking and showing off your skills and recognition. I look at LinkedIn as a resume in itself. Your colleagues can even endorse you in certain skills and also create personal recommendations for you.
Congratulations, you landed a job interview! Now you can just sit back and wait until your appointment time right? Wrong.
Do your homework!
Now is the time you need to do your homework. Research the company you are interviewing with. Almost all companies have a website nowadays. It’s not that hard to look them up online and see what they do. Plus it gives you the chance to decide if this is a place you really want to work.
Review the job posting you applied for before going in!
We get that you have probably applied to hundreds of jobs and you may not remember which one it is that called you. But you got the interview so make sure you check back and see which one it is. One of the first interview questions I ask is “What do you know about the position?” I don’t want to hear that you applied all over town and don’t remember which one this is. I also don’t want to hear you say “I just saw Customer Service and I love people so I knew I would be perfect” blah blah blah. If I hear that you know nothing about the position or the company, it’s a deal breaker for me.
It really sucks when a candidate we really like does not show up to their interview. And if that’s not bad enough, 2 months later they send us their resume again. Seriously? You already blew it and any future chance you have at getting a job with us. If you are not interested in the job, then that’s fine, but don’t bother scheduling an appointment. If you are serious about the job (and we hope you are) make sure you note your interview time and confirm it before you hang up. The employer has specifically planned time out of their busy day to meet with you. You don’t want to inconvenience them by not showing up on the correct date and time. It may sound silly, but you would be surprised at how many times candidates get the date or time wrong. It hurts my head and ruins my day.
Arrive on time.
Better yet, show up 5-10 mins early. If you can’t even make it to your interview on time, then you already have a strike against you. We understand that some things are beyond your control like traffic, or having a hard time finding the place. But if you did your homework you would figure out exactly where you are going before your interview. If it looks confusing, then call the company and ask for specific directions before your interview time. And if you are running late, then call and let the company know. But you better have a REALLY good excuse!
Make an effort.
Dress appropriately. It is better to be a tad overdressed than under-dressed. Save the jeans for another time. We want to see that you at least made an effort.
Don’t be afraid to show your personality. A smile can go a long way. But also do not be overbearing. I have learned this the hard way. I once went on an interview that I was so excited about and wanted the job sooo badly. I was talking so much and asking a million questions, I was practically interviewing the employers! But then after I left, I realized that I totally blew it. On every interview I went on afterwards, I let THEM ask the questions. And then if you have any questions that were not covered in the interview (and you should always have at least one or two) just save them for the end.
Sit up straight.
Body language tells a lot about you. We get that you are nervous and that’s okay. But try to watch your fidgeting. If you have a problem with fidgeting, try clasping your hands together during the interview or keep them under the table. On the other end, you should watch the body language of your interviewers as well. If their eyes are drifting or they are crossing their arms, you may be losing them. Now’s the time to reel them back in.
There are many websites that show you common interview questions and how to answer them. Read up on them before your interview. Try to anticipate what some of these questions will be so that you have a great answer at the ready. Here is a great resource on how to answer tough interview questions. And if you don’t know something, that’s okay too. Just answer honestly and express your desire to learn. You have to start somewhere.
We understand that interviews are nerve wracking. It’s only natural. But keep in mind, we liked what we saw when we read your cover letter and resume. Now we want to meet YOU! Remember, we are going to be spending a lot of time together. We want to like you and we want you to like us too!
I hope you found some of these tips useful for how to get a job interview. What is the worst job you ever had? How about the best? I’m also happy to answer any questions you may have. Leave me a comment and let me know!