The new year always brings a time of self-reflection and declaring those famous New Year’s Resolutions: exercising more, going vegan, taking more personal time, and maybe, looking for a new job. Research shows more than 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but researchers at the University of Scranton found only 8% actually keep them. While The Professional Communicators can’t help you lose weight or adopt a daily meditation routine, we can offer some important steps to help you move forward in your career.
After you draft your resume, write your cover letter, and submit your application for your dream job, next comes the interview. It’s in this unique setting of interpersonal communication that you have the best opportunity to differentiate yourself and take the next step in your career development.
There are some important factors that go into impressing that person sitting across from you that is judging you even before you walk through the door. According to a survey of 850 hiring managers by SimplyHired.com, the top five mistakes that people make at interviews are:
Showing up late;
Showing a lack of preparation;
Bad mouthing your former company and/or boss;
Using poor grammar and unprofessional vocabulary.
While heeding this common-sense advice will keep you in the game, we have four additional steps that will dramatically improve your odds of winning the interview:
1. RESEARCH! RESEARCH! RESEARCH!
Spend substantial time learning about the company and position you are interviewing for. Learn their mission, past history, strategic plan, and recent newsworthy events. Armed with that knowledge, articulate exactly how you can contribute to their plans, programs, and culture. Also research your interviewer. What are their responsibilities, previous positions and employers, where did they go to school? Use that information to build rapport and forge a connection. Knowledge is power, and the more you have of it, the more confident and qualified you will appear.
2. BUILD YOUR STORY LIBRARY!
One of the toughest questions to answer is “Tell me about yourself?” When faced with this predictable question, you need a story library at your disposal to demonstrate your qualifications, experience, and personality. Rather than saying, “I am a hard worker” or “I am reliable and trustworthy,” tell the interviewer a story that demonstrates these qualities. Telling your story and having examples that bring your core competencies to life are essential to being memorable in an interview.
3. BE CONCISE!
We constantly hear from clients that they have a tendency to ramble or go into more detail than necessary, but unnecessary words can stymie a good interview. Be concise by giving your response an illustrative headline and then elaborate only as much as necessary to substantiate your claim. Even when you are telling stories to bring your qualities to life, tell the abridged versions and eliminate detours onto tangents. Being efficient and to-the-point is just as impressive as your content.
4. PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!
Many people silently rehearse their interview responses but few practice them out-loud. Getting your brain and mouth working together, adjusting your volume, enunciating, practicing your pacing, and varying your tone are just as important as your content. So practice out loud before bed, in the shower, during your commute, on the treadmill, anywhere and everywhere! Don’t worry about being over-rehearsed--it doesn’t exist.
If you follow these four important steps, you will walk into your interview confident and prepared to talk about yourself, your skills, and all the positives you can bring to the position. You will be ahead of your competition and you will be engaging and memorable. You will also be much more likely to achieve at least one of your New Year’s resolutions-- getting your dream job.
Happy New Year!
 Diamond, Dan, “Just 8% of People Achieve Their New Year’s Resolutions. Here’s How They Do It.” Forbes, January 1, 2013 (https://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2013/01/01/just-8-of-people-achieve-their-new-years-resolutions-heres-how-they-did-it/#2e6a726596b2)