Your ticket has been punched and as a job seeker in this economy, you’re in a unique position. One million jobs have been added this year in the U.S. and the unemployment rate is at a 16 year low. This puts you in command and provides you with leverage in the interview process. But, you still have to get the job!
Join me on the red carpet as I provide you with a glimpse behind the velvet ropes of the recruiting department. I’ve identified the top five techniques that will help you convey all that intellectual property contained in your brain.
Create what I call “coming attractions.” This technique will allow you to introduce your skills and set the tone of the interview. It also answers the classic and dreaded question “Tell me about yourself.” Prepare a 45-60 second summary of the highlights of your qualifications and experience. Be sure to include why you are looking for a new position. It should be so well-rehearsed that it doesn’t sound like it’s well-rehearsed. Go big-picture and be enthusiastic but concise. Be professional but show your personality.
It goes something like this “I’ve spent the last ten years in roles of increasing responsibility for a diversified engineering firm developing my skills as a project manager. I have won several awards for my performance and I’ve been promoted twice. I love solving problems in innovative ways and working as a team with the best and the brightest in our industry. I’m ready for a role that combines my passion for infrastructure expansion with the tools and resources available at your firm.”
2. Help me help you.
Do your research. Read about the company on their website and look at reviews on Glassdoor. Ensure that you have a good understanding of how the company makes money and what uniquely positions them in their industry. Be prepared to share the details that you’ve gathered about the position and how you are the candidate who is distinctively qualified to solve their problems.
You’ve probably heard that you need to nurture your network and build your personal social media “brand” but a potent technique to make you stand out quickly is to ask a former co-worker, manager or supervisor to connect with the hiring authority at a desired firm as an independent, third-party reference. Even though the hiring manager may not know your former boss, a proactive voicemail or email message with details of your previous performance can go a long way. In addition, I’ve found that most people believe there are “six degrees of separation” but when you get in a room with like-minded individuals in a similar industry, it’s actually more like two degrees of separation. We live and work in a small world. Ensure that you direct the characters and the script.
Be prepared to answer and ask the “right” questions. Many companies perform behavioral interviews. Behavioral interviews are used to determine if you can quickly recall and articulate a previous scenario. They’re also used to find out what you have learned from your work experiences. The questions will be worded like this: “Tell me about a time that you failed and how you reacted” or “Tell me about a time that you went above and beyond to satisfy a customer. What did you do and why?” Behavioral interviews indicate to the hiring manager that you’re suitable for the job based on your previous experiences. Be prepared with 3-4 anecdotes that you can apply in different situations. Keep them brief and be sure to answer the question completely.
In addition, be prepared to ask relevant and substantial questions of the interviewer(s). Don’t ask about benefits or compensation at this point – make sure you have a good understanding of the company, the department, the role and the manager’s expectations. I appreciate when a candidate asks how they can be successful, the priorities of the role (or the company), and the milestones that will need to be met. Shoot for asking 3 or 4 questions. If you have additional questions ask the interviewer if you can email him/her for further clarification.
5. “Hasta la vista, baby.”
At the conclusion of the interview, you should thank the interviewer for their time, offer to provide additional information and then ask for the job. This last part is significant and often overlooked. Gather your thoughts while still in the meeting to put together a brief summary of your skills and reiterate your interest.
For a dramatic finale, leave something behind that will remind the interviewer of you. Several years ago I was interviewing with a COO for an Executive Recruiter role. A key responsibility of the job was to gather intelligence on potential passive candidates. To demonstrate my proficiency, I left behind a folder containing sample research reports. He later told me that no other candidate had been as thorough or demonstrated their skills in such an impressive way.
You know what makes you a superstar and you know that an employer would be lucky to have you! Why not set the stage and share how and why you’re the best candidate for the job. Oh, and may the force be with you!
One final thought before the credits roll. If you or any of your contacts are in interested in working at AECOM, feel free to share this message with them. We have a lot of great opportunities – more than 3,000 in fact! – and are constantly seeking the best people!
Julie Cox is a Talent Acquisition Sourcing Leader for AECOM. Her areas of expertise include: Sourcing, market intelligence, Corporate and Executive search for Engineers, Architects, Building Maintenance professionals, IT, Legal, Risk Management, Accounting, Finance, Compliance, Procurement, HR, Marketing, Communications, Facilities and Sales.