By now you’ve mastered the art of the cover letter and your resume is perfect. You’ve been called in for interview after interview but something isn’t working because you haven’t even managed to get a second interview let alone a job offer. The first couple of times it happened you figured it was them. Now, though, you’re pretty sure it’s you.
According to TalentClick, a company that specializes in helping companies with their pre-employment assessment needs, “poor on the job performance had more to do with “fit” than skills and abilities. This means that more and more companies (and hiring managers) are realizing that they need to concentrate on building good teams—even if that means hiring someone whose resume isn’t as impressive or whose credentials aren’t quite as fancy as someone else’s.
You need to make sure that you make the best possible impression from the second you walk into the office until well after you leave. Here is how you do that.
Before you send out another job application or accept another interview, take some time to evaluate yourself. What is it, exactly; that you are going to bring to a company’s table? Taking time to really figure this out isn’t hubris. It’s the answer to the ultimate question: why should a company hire you over everybody else that sent in their resumes?
2. Communicate Clearly
Do you know what most hiring managers and team leaders are looking for? It is a human being who can communicate clearly and well. More than anything else, it is important that you are able to articulate your thoughts and ideas—in speech and text. If you can’t string a sentence together without the words “it’s like” “Um” “you know” and “I was all, like, dude…” you have some work to do. Work with someone on your communication skills. Take a class in interpersonal communication at your local community college; ask a former teacher or advisor to help you. At the very least, do a few practice interviews with a friend.
3. Learn How to Listen
Active listening is where you really pay attention to a question or statement and then respond accordingly. Focus on your interviewer(s) and not on your response. It is okay—heck, it is actually better—to take a moment to think about what they’ve asked than to jump in with a canned answer. It shows that you were paying attention and that you value what they said and helps you ensure that you are actually answering what’s been asked instead of what you think was asked because you stopped listening halfway through the question.
4. Do Your Research
Learn as much as you can about the company and the people you will potentially be working with. Be able to talk about at least three company/team-specific issues or projects that you can either help solve or that you would like to be a part of. This shows that you are interested in exactly what is being offered and not just whatever you’re hired to do. It shows you care and that you’re ready to work with the people they already have on hand.
5. Manners Matter
Always thank your interviewer for her time at the end of your session. Shake her hand. Then, a few days later you can either call or email to repeat your thanks and to find out whether or not there is anything else you can do to increase your chances for a second interview (or the job itself). A simple “I’m just calling to thank you again for taking the time to meet with me. I really do appreciate it. I hope that if you have any questions or think of anything I can do to clarify my answers or help you evaluate my application you’ll let me know!” Is perfectly fine.
Remember: it’s okay to be human. It’s good to have questions. You don’t need to present yourself as God’s Gift. In fact, these days, that could actively work against you!
Good luck out there!