Some Early Good Publicity: Going into the Interview with an Edge

The smart job seeker today conducts a focused job search that begins with research into companies from which he or she seeks employment. Gone are the days – if you’re smart – of slapping a resume on a job board and waiting for someone to call. There’s simply too much competition to leave your fate to the winds.

Social networking via such sites as LinkedIn and Facebook is an excellent mechanism to build peer connections. By linking those sites to your professional information, you increase exponentially your chances of catching the attention of a prospective employer.

There are an increasing number of Web sites that give job searchers the opportunity to do more than put themselves on paper. Web sites such as VisualCV smash through the old conundrum about whether a resume should be limited to one-page or two. In a smart, attractive format, VisualCV provides clients with an opportunity to present peers and prospective hirers with all of the information found on a traditional resume – work experience, academic credentials, etc. – as well as the added bonuses of a place for photos, a portfolio of work, and video.

Such added features allow a candidate to do more than provide a potential employer with a list of accomplishments – they actually serve as a sort of “pre-interview” that allows a job seeker to present a multi-faceted version of himself or herself, completely on their own terms.

Unlike a traditional resume, a VisualCV or similar service doesn’t just outline a litany of your past experience. You have the chance to answer potential questions or defend certain choices. You can discuss your business philosophy and then back it up with real-life examples of your work. You also brand yourself as a certain type of person – creative, diligent, organized, etc. – which increases an employer’s feeling of connection to you.

That extra edge can help a client going into an actual interview, which can be heavily weighted by an employer to catch you off guard with questions and situations designed to unnerve you – ostensibly, to determine how you react in adverse conditions. With a preconceived notion of you – garnered from a forum in which you are displayed in your most flattering incarnations, managed totally by yourself – an interviewer is more likely to feel that he or she knows you, and will be less inclined to treat you as a faceless stranger.

You should go into an interview knowing as much about your prospective employer and your desired job as possible. Visit the company’s Web site and pick up its advertising and marketing materials.

When you walk into the interview, don’t fall into the trap of “telling a little bit about yourself.” That opens you up, especially if you are prone to do so, to chatting aimlessly and pulling yourself off track. It’s a good idea to have a much-practiced standard opener about yourself that includes innocuous information – you name, your recent experience, your credentials, and a question: “What is it that you are hoping to accomplish by hiring me? What is the goal for this company/department?”

These questions, which are polite, interested, and relevant, put the ball back into the interviewer’s court. He must answer your questions, and you listen – carefully. The interviewer will have just told you exactly what he wants to hear from a candidate in order to do the job – and what he must hear in order to hire you.

Hint: this is exactly what you need to tell him.

Many job candidates have a tendency to talk too much. Silences in an interview can feel like a failure on your part. As a manager, I always wrote notes while interviewing and left silences between questions – not long gaps, but enough to make the candidate feel that he had to speak. I got more information – not all of it positive – from the nervous ramblings of job seekers than from almost any other method. I find, however, that a candidate who answers my questions and sits back and waits for me to speak again usually becomes an employee who is listens to the opinions of others, is open to teamwork, and gets the job done.

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