By now you have completed multiple informational interviews with people from varied backgrounds and organizations. This has given you insights into many companies and helped identify the companies that match your requirements for the desired job.
You now are able to target companies that align with your values and that may need someone with your experience and expertise.
How do you reach the right people in your target company? It’s similar if not the same as the process you followed for scheduling your informational interviews: Reviewing the company on their website to understand the organization and departments to find the person you would most like to meet and who may have the job you’ve been seeking.
By continuing to network with newfound relationships spawned by Informational Interviews, ask your network about your target companies and who they may know.
Finding the individual or individuals closest to the job you’re seeking is key to your search. First the target area, then the job definition, followed by a strategy to reach him or her. Trust your network to guide you to the right people.
The Value-Based Resume
In contacting your target at your chosen company, you’ll ultimately need to introduce yourself through a resume that communicates your value. There are volumes written about how to prepare a winning resume. We won’t address them here – but a good source is Louise Kursmark, (https://www.louisekursmark.com/). She is the author of Modernize your Resume. The book shows job seekers how to craft a winning resume for today’s competitive and technology-driven employment market.
A few guidelines…
A value-based resume is written to be of interest to the hiring manager/your target. It has to stand out and convey what you bring to the company. According to Jay A. Block (5 Steps to Rapid Employment, McGraw Hill Education, 2014), a value-based resume is a self-marketing document. It communicates your ability to produce significant results better than other qualified candidates. When written well, a value-based resume can open the right doors to get the interview.
You got the interview! What steps will you need to take to prepare for the phone call or Zoom call with the company?
Prior to the Interview
Prior to the interview, get as much information as you can about the individual or individuals who will be interviewing you. Refer to the company website and read it thoroughly, check industry sources to find out where the company fits among its competitors and how well it is doing. You must be well acquainted with their product line, the names and backgrounds of their leadership team and other executives who are named as advisors, investors or board members. You want to demonstrate that you have done your homework and know the company.
Remember, preparation is 95% if not 99% of the groundwork. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be.
Prepare your elevator pitch to state how you can address what the company indicates it needs. You want to present yourself as one who can help solve problems without sounding arrogant or over-confident. Not easy! It takes research and a strategic approach.
During the interview
Approach the online interview like you’re going to an onsite interview. Dress appropriately and remember to smile when you are introduced. During the interview, first and foremost, be yourself. Being yourself makes you a better stand out. And remember, you only have one chance to make a first impression!
An interview can be conversational. Of course you want to answer the questions and describe how you would be a good fit for the role. To help describe how you fit into the job, you can ask questions too. You might even want to describe how you researched the company to find the specific job and the person who is interviewing you now.
In response to specific questions about your career, tell a story to demonstrate your skills, selecting an incident that shows your ability to do this job. Be sure you rehearse the answer in advance (99% is preparation) so you won’t stumble over your words or try to go back over a point that you may have missed in the telling. You want it to be seamless, confident and natural – as if you describe these kinds of successes easily and frequently.
Inevitably some interviewers like to ask if you have ever failed in a project or at a job. This is to hear how you will react to the question and how you will describe the situation in which you “failed”. This is an opportunity to describe how you dealt with a difficult situation and how you stepped up to the to plate to solve a problem and crafted a solution to
overcome the failure and turn it into a success. Again, have a specific situation in your ‘interviewing-skills tool kit’ to fluently respond.
Interview with confidence. Don’t undersell yourself. At the same time, don’t oversell. Practicing different answers to prospective questions will build your confidence and ensure that you present yourself in the best light. Interviewers are looking for problem solvers. If you are hesitant or lack confidence, they’ll wonder how you will be able to solve difficult problems for their company.
At the end of the interview, if asked if you have any questions, be prepared with three to four questions and select one that may not have been covered in the interview. Be sure that you ask a question: don’t end the interview saying that you got all that you need to know.
When the interview comes to an end, thank the interviewer for his/her time and ask if there is anything else they may need from you as they make their hiring decision. You may also ask how he would like you to reach out to follow up regarding your candidacy.
Post interview Etiquette
Send an email within two hours of the interview to say thank you and remind him/her of something you discussed and how you liked discussing that with him. Or add an observation about the company that personalizes the thank you.
It is good etiquette to also send a hand written note to arrive the day after the interview. Again, saying thank you for his/her time and referencing a topic of mutual interest that demonstrates you are a good match for the job.
When to ask about Next Steps
How many days should you wait to hear back? If you don’t hear within 3 days or at most a week, email him/her to ask if they have made a decision and once again state how much you like the company and look forward to hearing from him about your prospects of getting the job. This may seem a bit bold, but people are so busy during this time of working remotely, they may not remember to get back to you as quickly as you would like.