After recruiting for 25 years, I have prepped literally thousands of candidates for interviews.
Ultimately, landing the job of your dreams comes down to how your qualifications and experience match up against what a hiring manager’s needs are….and sharing that information in a positive, succinct manner. You would be surprised how many highly qualified people don’t make it past the 1st interview, even when they have the skill set required, because they are not good at providing information on their background clearly, & concisely.
Keep in mind that your RESUME will get you the interview, and your INTERVIEW SKILLS will land you the job.
The first step is to craft a comprehensive resume, customized for each role you are going after. Changing the objective on the top of your resume to reflect the job you are interviewing for is always a nice touch. It is disconcerting when a candidate sends in a resume that has a stated objective that they want to work for a well-established company when they are applying for a job with a start-up. Taking an extra 5 minutes to personalize the stated objective at the very top of your resume, is time well spent.
Study the job description, and make sure that the background and experience that you do have, is clearly outlined in the resume.
Needless to say, never lie on a resume, or fabricate experience that you do not have. This results in a colossal waste of time for all concerned.
These days the majority of ATS…applicant tracking systems….are all about keyword matches. Recruiters typically receive hundreds of responses on a daily basis for each posted ad. When someone applies, the subject line shows us a percentage, of how our ATS calculates the potential match of the candidate, and it is ALL about the number of keyword matches.
So if you are applying for a sales role, and under the job description it mentions that the ideal candidate will have met and exceeded their quota, a smart applicant will be sure to use that precise verbiage in their resume. And if you are applying for a role as a Plant Manager, and the JD requires someone that adheres to strict safety protocols, you would want to include that specific wording in your CV.
Once you have the interview scheduled, it is now time to fully prepare for the meeting. You will want to study the job description for the role you are interviewing for, as well as the company website.
Take some time to review the LinkedIn profiles for all key decision-makers within the organization, including all the people that you will be interviewing with. It is always smart to engage with key players within the organization on LinkedIn, by liking and commenting on their posts. By engaging with them on-line, you just may give yourself the edge to beat out the competition.
While you should anticipate interview questions based on the specific requirements for the role you are applying for, there are always some basic questions that interviewers ask for just about every single role they vet candidates for, and it [pays high dividends to become comfortable in answering these common questions.
It cannot be overemphasized that it is imperative not to lie to make yourself something you are not, however if you do sincerely match what they are looking for, tell them!
Following are 3 of the most commonly asked Interview Questions, along with the BEST ANSWERS!
1. What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?
This is your Golden Opportunity to share how your background and experience dovetails into the requirements for the role. Presumably, you have studied the job description multiple times, and are clear not only on the mandatory requirements, but the job responsibilities. Now take a few minutes to share how your specific skill set and experience directly applies towards the role, highlighting parts of your resume that reflect the types of experience, certifications, and track record that the job calls for.
As we all know, the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior, and nothing warms a hiring manager’s heart more than to hear that the person sitting before her has successfully done what they need their next hire to do in a previous role, and done it well.
2. What is your biggest strength?
The best long-term matches between jobs and people happen when skill sets and experience, combined with TEMPERAMENT, match up with positions that benefit from those attributes.
Ideally, you have already highlighted how your specific background and experience matches up to what this particular role requires, and now is the time to talk about your soft skills, or characteristics.
Once again you want to be honest, and think about the personality traits that would do well in the role.
Being an eternal optimist, I am going to assume that you are only applying for roles that match your baseline characteristics, so here are a few examples;
Interviewing for a role as an Air traffic Controller? One would assume that you are even-keeled, a multi-tasker, and do well under pressure. Share that!
Applying for a sales role that is focusing on new business development? Talking about how you are tenacious, numbers-driven, well organized, genuinely enjoy connecting with people, are goal orientated, & generally optimistic would all be traits that would contribute to a person being successful in a new business development position.
3. What is your biggest weakness?
This one is my personal favorite. The week I graduated college, America West Airlines had just come to town, and was holding open call interviews for every aspiring flight attendant in the state. The line of 6,000 applicants snaked all the way through downtown Tempe. After we were all gathered into a large hall, the panel of interviewers asked us about why we yearned to fly the friendly skies, followed by queries wanting us to highlight our biggest strengths.
It was hard to shut everyone up since we all had a ready list of attributes that we had prepared to share. Next came the question of what our biggest weakness was, and the silence was deafening. None of us had anticipated such a question, and it threw everyone for a loop.
“Lucky” for me, I had just had a fight with a boyfriend, who had rattled off 50 of my most glaring faults that very morning. When my turn came around, I shared that experience, saying it would be difficult to pick just 1 since I had so recently had my top 50 deficits outlined in excruciating detail just hours earlier. The laughter rang through the building, and I cinched the job. The moral of that story is that if you can make someone laugh, while appearing humble and self-deprecating, you will be remembered fondly.
And of course, you never want to let a good opportunity go to waste, so try to incorporate a potential flaw that in reality could be considered a bonus.
For example, going for that sales role? Saying that people have accused you of ‘not taking no for an answer’ would be a terrific way to highlight yet another positive, cloaked as a negative.
Talking with someone about a CPA or CFO role? Perhaps sharing that your attention to detail when balancing the family budget drives your spouse nuts would be a smart move.
Interviewing for that Air Traffic Control position? Saying that you prefer multiple projects or irons in the fire as opposed to a singular focus irks a partner that would prefer one project completed at a time, would reflect upon a temperament that would thrive in a complex, multi-faceted, high-pressure environment.
And of course, my personal favorite, sharing that your family considers you a workaholic that has a very hard time walking away from work, is always a guaranteed WIN!
And for hiring managers that want a stellar pool of top talent to interview for their next role, reach out to ISC today for all of your critical fill, high priority hiring needs!
Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is President of International Search Consultants, a leader in executive search since 1999. Our team of 15 experienced recruiters can provide top talent for a variety of roles within Sales, Finance, and HR .