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Joe Szynkowski: Interview Tips for the Rusty Job Seeker
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Joe Szynkowski: Interview Tips for the Rusty Job Seeker

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As we close out our May theme of helping job seekers find fresh starts in their careers, it’s time to tackle the amazingly awkward topic of the job interview.

Is there a more stressful part of the job search process? Thanks to the pandemic, the majority of interviews have become virtual meetings. In between the technical glitches and your efforts to keep the kids quiet for an entire 30 minutes – seriously, can’t they color or something? – there is seemingly no good time to interview for a new role.

Fortunately, we have some tips this week that will help you overcome these barriers and get hired for your dream position.

Never Say No

Interviewing for jobs is like riding a bike. Not in the sense that it comes naturally. In the sense that there’s always a chance you could fall off and embarrass yourself.

This is precisely the reason you should accept every interview offer that comes your way. Each discussion with a hiring manager is an opportunity to refine your personal pitch and challenge yourself to sell your key skills in real time.

Practicing in front of a mirror or your laptop screen is one thing. Interacting with someone who is judging your competencies while you tell your story is the only way to truly sharpen your interview prowess.

Out of Practice?

If you haven’t been asked to interview lately, be ready. The job market is heating up and companies are building out their teams for post-pandemic growth.

Interview inactivity should not equal anxiety. The key is flipping your thinking about the process in general. Hiring managers are not out to get you. They are genuinely looking for great talent to fill their open job roles.

Each job interview offers you a chance to meet new people and sell yourself. Spin the stress into enthusiasm and watch your interview performance improve with each chance you get.

Research is Key

The best way to prepare for an interview is to research your target company. Spend some time on their corporate LinkedIn profile and find news articles highlighting recent initiatives. You can earn extra brownie points by tying in your experience and accomplishments into what the company is trying to achieve.

LinkedIn also makes it easy to research the people who will be interviewing you. Find out where they went to college and what community causes they are connected to. Use these tidbits as ice-breakers to help create a comfortable, free-flowing interview experience.

Prepare Your Pitch

After years of talking with thousands of professionals and executive leaders looking to position themselves for new roles, I have found that the hardest question for job seekers to answer is: “Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?”

If you’re not prepared to answer this simple, yet complex question, you can find yourself scrambling before the interview even gets going. Have a quick, 30-second answer ready that hits on three main things: Your background, your passion and your family.

Here’s an example you can customize: I am a communications consultant with 15 years of experience helping business leaders achieve their goals. My passion is working with dynamic teams to identify opportunities to improve corporate culture and tell a great company story. I’m originally from the Chicagoland area but have settled into Southern Illinois, where I live with my wife and three young daughters.

Keep it conversational, quick and engaging for best results.

How is Your Follow-Up?

How you perform during an interview is obviously vital. How you express your post-interview interest may be even more important. A recent Robert Half survey reports that 80 percent of hiring managers said it was helpful or somewhat helpful to receive a thank-you note after an interview.

Always follow up with a note reiterating your interest in the position. You can also include any details you may have forgotten to mention during your interview.

With all hiring manager communications – both pre- and post-interview – remember to carry yourself with a modest air of confidence. You have earned the right to be in the conversation.

Now go make it happen.

Joe Szynkowski is a Sr. Director for NuVinAir Global, a Dallas-based company disrupting the automotive industry. Thanks to technology, he does so happily from his home east of Marion. Check out www.workhappiest.com for his WorkHappy Spotlights or email Joe@TheUpWriteGroup.com for more guidance on finding career joy.

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