Thursday, July 28, 2005

What Should You Know Before the Interview?

It’s important to do your research prior to the interview. Nothing stops an interview dead in it’s tracks quicker than asking “So what is it your company does?” Here’s a quick checklist of things you should know before you arrive at the interview:

Understand the job: Reread the job posting, check the company’s website to see if they have a job description posted there or if you’re working through a recruiter, ask them to provide one.

Know about the prospective employer: Spend some time reviewing their website. Look for recent press releases or news articles about their company. Look at a few of their competitor’s websites too. If you’re unfamiliar with their industry, do some reading about it prior to the interview so you are able to have some good questions to ask.

Anticipate interview questions: In addition to the standard interview questions, think about the requirements that are listed in the job description and write down some ways that you meet those requirements. Consider examples that you might use to further illustrate your point.

Put your energy into things you can influence: Do your homework and forget about those things beyond your control, such as how many other applicants there are.

Relax: It's only an interview! The worst thing that can happen to you is that you don't get the job. You're still alive to interview for another job another day.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

How often should I follow up?

You’ve sent your resume to a company but haven’t heard back. Or, you’ve interviewed with a company representative and days have gone by without a word regarding the next step. You’re interested in the position but you don’t want to be a nuisance. How often should you follow up with the company and how should you do it?

Email is the best follow up unless a company has specifically asked you to call. It is less intrusive and the hiring manager can answer at a time when they are not busy.

If you’ve sent a resume and not gotten a response within ten days, it is reasonable to send a follow up email. In your email, tell them the date that you sent your resume and say that you are checking to make sure they received it. Ask them to let you know if they haven’t so that you can send them another copy. Don’t attach another resume to this email (some hiring managers are annoyed by duplicate resumes).

If you still don’t hear back from them, assume that there is no interest and move on. A company that is interested in you will respond.

If you’ve already interviewed with the company but haven’t heard back, send an email at an appropriate time based on when they said they would get back in touch with you. For example, if they told you they would get back with you on Monday, it is reasonable to send an email on Wednesday re-expressing your interest in the position.

If you’re dealing with a recruiter rather than with the company directly, base your follow ups on the level of interest the recruiter expressed as well as when they said they would get back with you. Follow up no more often than every 10-14 days via email. Remember, recruiters are on the phone all day talking with companies that may result in them finding a job for you – you don’t want to take their time away from that! Do not send a resume with the follow up emails unless you have made revisions.

Good follow up shows an interest in a company and the position they offer. Keep good notes on your follow ups so you are staying in front of the hiring managers and recruiters at the companies you are targeting in your job search and you’ll be the candidate they remember when there is a new opportunity.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Questions to Ask Employers During Interviews

A typical final question in most interviews is “Do you have any questions?” If you’ve prepared properly, you’ll have written out a minimum of three questions prior to your interview so you’ll be ready for this question.

What should you ask? You’ll have spent some time researching the company prior to your interview, so don’t ask obvious questions that were addressed on their website. Those types of questions indicate you didn’t prepare properly for the interview. Instead, ask questions about things that matter to you and that you truly want to know about your potential employer.

Here are some ideas to help you formulate your questions:
  • Why is this position available?

  • How does your company compare to your competitors?

  • What are your company’s long term plans and how will this department fit in with that?

  • What are your goals for this position?

  • What are some of the skills and abilities necessary for someone to be successful in this job?

  • Are there opportunities to obtain training to improve and acquire new skills?

  • Can you describe an ideal employee?

  • What growth do you anticipate for your firm?
And remember, if the interviewer hasn’t addressed this, your final questions should always be: “What is the next step in the interview process?” and “When do you anticipate making a decision?”.

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