Interviewing, it’s about the start and the finish

Dan Barker is a Leadership & Organizational Consultant – He has led and supported teams across the globe

There are two traditional approaches to job hunting. The first is taking a long strategic approach, using the time to try and set up each step. The other is finding yourself without a job, often past the time you initially assumed it would take to find a new job. So many articles only offer one side or a phase of the process. In a competitive job market, having the cradle-to-grave approach, as they say, in achieving a desired position protects income and should clearly set up the next step.  

Of course, the resume is step one

The first thing any job consultant will ask for is your resume. Resumes have evolved so much over the past ten years. It helps them understand experience and skills. It also allows the consultant to review how the potential candidate is marketing themselves. Developing a compelling resume is not just about marketing. It helps get a candidate to the front of the line in a posting. Don’t let someone with an outdated approach or not updating a resume be the failure holding you back from achieving a desired role. 

“The increasingly competitive job market now makes it critical to have a resume tailored to the role you are applying forThis signals to the hiring manager in the 6-10 seconds they use to review a resume that you have the experience and are a great match for the roles and responsibilities of the position. I strongly recommend taking the time to look through the job description and answer how you help the organization solve its challenges.”

Dustin beasley
Resume Writer and Owner of 417 Resume Renovators

Investing in yourself is critical when preparing to enter the job

market. This investment is true regardless of the timing of the situation. A significant first step is engaging a professional in branding and marketing yourself -these individuals understand how to develop a resume and profile that will create differentiation and help move candidates up in a posting. Another consideration is purchasing the premium on job networking sites like LinkedIn to help with job searches and marketing yourself. 

Note: Some local communities have their own exclusive job posting and networking. 

Job hunting requires getting out of the truck

Idaho hunters understand this term right away. Most of the wildlife worth tracking down stays away from the road, and good hunters must hike it out and put in the work. Job hunting will not be successful if done passively. Jobs are posted in many places and many ways. Yes, there is such a thing as ghost-posting. Without some understanding and an aggressive strategic approach, it can be easily diluted in the waters of so many candidates. 

The social side of networking is great, but nothing beats being face-to-face with someone. This should be part of any strategy. Communities have so many networks; all are opportunities to share your brand and get in front of others with a job that may come open. Win someone over in the right way, and maybe they create the role to fit the value they see in you. True networking should help to hone in on skills and opportunities not used for riding coattails and hoping for table scraps. Job hunting is about being in control and intentional. 

Start with the local Chamber of Commerce, and many a young professionals network in your community. Look at other community networks, such as HR groups, city clubs, rotary clubs, toastmasters, or even the local small business administration office. Ask these groups about resources for job hunting, skill building, or job coaching. If you find yourself in an unexpected situation, email their leaders introducing yourself and explaining your situation, experience, and resume. Of course, these can be the people that know people and find ways to expand your reach through these new relationships. 

Note: create a business card that has your contact info and possibly details to your digital profile like LinkedIn – make sure to be managing your social brand well while in the job market (don’t be controversial)

Job postings that are fake or are not currently open are known as ghost job postings. There are all kinds of reasons for these postings. Companies could be working to develop a pipeline for later, a significant shift in the business. Sometimes, there could even be an attempt to scam or fraud a company or person. There are so many reasons, and investigating them has no consequence. It is not part of the strategy, and if a candidate finds themselves caught up in such postings, it is only a sign of going about it all wrong. 

The old days of posting from the classifieds are passive and ineffective. The same is true with any job posting site. Know this fact, recruiters are looking to be engaged and are paid to find the best talent possible -this should be you! Job postings serve the purpose of notification and provide a job description. Candidates should carefully study the job description to consider any potential adjustments needed to the resume and strategically approach the postings recruiters. Not all job postings will have this information directly available. Use networking and social media to track the appropriate people. The important part is to do your research upfront and be ready. Do not approach any posting lackadaisically or like you don’t want it. No one goes for a job to be turned down, do not misrepresent your efforts, confidence, or self-assurance.

Preparation and intention are the keys to success

In any performance model knowing the business is fundamental. Leaning on skills and experience alone can be a foolish approach in the interview process. Consider the steps that would be added in if the process was more intentional. Research the company before getting involved. Look through their leadership teams and see what experience they have. Look for what is relevant or where you can connect to the knowledge and skill set in your resume. The preparation is not just about a cover letter. Think of questions that could be productive on either side of the interview. Going in as a candidate, go in knowing more about them than they know about you. If there is an unknown or mystery, then expecting success would be luck, pushing through a part of the process without intention. 

There are a couple of ways to effectively become informed about the company where you are seeking employment. Start by visiting the company website and clicking the ‘About’ section. Search the company through social networking or Google news to see what might be recent or relevant to your resume. 

With this knowledge, gain decide how to be strategic. What questions will add clarity to the company or the role? Great insights to have is to understand the flow of work or communication within the organization and how decisions are made. What happens when team members are successful? How does the company recognize success? How does the company support things like diversity or career growth? When selecting a new employer or role, it should be more about the fit for the candidate applying than the company when making an effort from this perspective. 

Note: Perhaps look for past employees and see if they would be willing to share their experiences. Why did they leave?

Great tip: Look at this video from the University of Chicago | Excelling in the Interview Process

Develop your confidence and self-assurance 

Being methodical and intentional does not just offer a roadmap to getting an interview or knowing the company you are interested in. The preparation of looking within yourself and then looking at the company is about establishing further credibility. The process should lock in your validity and reliability. As a candidate prepares for the interview process, their hard work should have created a strong foundation. This built foundation can be used to show how they have been reliable in their work and achieving goals, along with the validity that would be needed from executing skills and other tangibles in previous experiences. Preparing is also about looking at yourself in the mirror and saying I am ready. I’ve got this! The outward impression will be all about your ownership and accountability, exuding a level of confidence that any fiduciary would want as a part of their business, a true investment. 

Let the great debate begin

Go in ready to give a clinic on interviewing. There are several observations a candidate should be prepared to make during the interview. There is a process to follow to provide complete answers to the questions. Knowing the critical pieces that must be completed before closing the conversation is vital. Have a cadence for follow-up that is long-lasting and memorable. 

A conversation is excellent, but it is essential to manage the follow-up questions. A process for answering questions can make a difference in the impression made throughout the interview. Use the TAP method to help hit the main point of any answer. It starts with tactical steps that had to be completed. Next, make sure to talk about the actions that you specifically took or contributed to. Last, share the progression and results from the execution. Instead of practicing scenarios and trying to remember all the situations you have been through, practice answering questions using this model. Develop the muscle memory of answering using the TAP method. 

There are some questions or themes to be mindful of, and consider the types of answers that will be the most strategic based on what you know about the company and interviewers. 

The details will matter

  • Change will undoubtedly come up. Consider this, is change regular in this org or a large undertaking? Is it accuracy or pace that is important? 
  • Conflict is something that everyone will have to manage if people are present. It’s a large part of understanding how someone makes decisions. Consider how to view conflict in a non-emotional way. An example could be the importance of effective negotiation -a combination of being knowledgeable and relaxed. 
  • Communication can be a big topic. Communication often holds up all organizations from achieving deadlines or completing projects. The “why” of reviewing communication is understanding how people get things done. Another area to consider is how adapting to culture is the most challenging part of any new role, and communication is in this sphere. 
  • Development can show focus and vision. A candidate should consider what skill development most benefits the company and career growth. Display a growth mindset in these questions; it is not just about self-focus. 

Explore these topics in the company’s research, but be mindful of them coming at you in the interview. Candidates should attempt and ask questions upfront that help in using similar definitions, terminology, or buzzwords. Be prepared to note any names, KPIs, or additional details about the role that can be used throughout the interview. Show your interviewers how you stay engaged and can adapt on your feet. It is the prep that supports these activities. 

Go into the interview with 4-5 things that must be known about you and how you will be productive and value proposition. At this time and moment, they will support the company like no other, and these items will be shared at all costs. If the end of the interview arrives, and these priorities have not been shared, use the time you get for questions to share these items, or if asked what else you would like to share. Candidates should remember that the interview is for you to share the talent you would bring to the company. 

Finish your interview with a strong closing. Be able to recap the high points and directly address the needs and parts of their business that have been shared throughout the interview. Have a strategy for follow-up that can be a lasting impression. It might be an email, but a hand-delivered card could be even better. Do not leave some plan or copy of your resume unless asked. A lasting impression is not about party favors that will end up in the trash. 

It is all executed and accomplished with purpose and intention. Interviewing should be about being on the offense and taking the odds away from the house. A great question to ask yourself now is it time for a change. Have you been in your current role long enough to master it? Use this plan to be ready and set yourself apart. 


417 Resume Renovators

417 Resume Renovators provides resume writing and career advancement services to job seekers in all stages of their career journey. We specialize in creating resumes that highlight your top skills and experiences to help you land your dream role.

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