A well-constructed resumé and cover letter, together with targeted networking and meticulous follow-up, can open doors for a job interview. But how you handle the interview is the key to securing an offer.
Think of a job search as a marketing campaign and the interview as the sales call. During the marketing phase, you research organizations and positions that could be critical in the next step of your career. You also present your accomplishments, skills, interests and goals in your resumé, cover letter and networking in a way that emphasizes the strength of your candidacy.
At an interview, the focus changes dramatically, switching from drawing the employer to read your credentials to persuading the employer to hire you. What sales representative would go into an appointment without a set agenda?
To make the most positive impression, know what you want the employer to hear about your qualifications, regardless of whether you are asked about them directly.
Have four or five accomplishments, experiences or skill sets in mind that you plan to share. Be prepared to relate these to qualifications stated in the job description (this will help with open-ended questions, such as “Tell me about yourself” or “Is there anything else you would like to tell me in support of your application?”). Working from an agenda gives you greater self-confidence, plus it shows that you are organized and interested in the position.
At the end of the interview, sum up the qualifications you have to offer and state your level of interest in the position. Thank the interviewer for his or her time and ask if you can submit other credentials for review. Also ask about the time line for when an offer might be extended.
In following up:
- Send a personal thank-you note to the interviewer within 48 hours of the interview.
- Follow the interviewer’s directions completely regarding follow-up to the interview.
- If you have not heard about the employment decision by three days after the specified date, call to reiterate your interest in the position and ask about the time line. Leave a message if you cannot reach the interviewer.
By following these guidelines, you can stand out from the competition and make the most of your interview.
Alumni Career Services is designed to help you at every stage of your career. For information and assistance, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.alumni.virginia.edu/career.