It can be overwhelming to think about how much work it actually entails to find a job in today’s web 2.0 world. If you are very serious about it, you have likely educated yourself in all the various facets of a job search and become well-equipped to go out and tackle the task. But, so have many others. Once a company narrows down the candidate pool to a group of people they want to meet, and you are one of them, it’s time to start thinking about your next steps. Only one person can be chosen in the end. When all things are equal, what makes you stand out?
Finding strategic and creative ways to land job interviews is half the battle. Once you are chosen for an interview, it’s not always going to be enough to arrive early, smile at the right times, answer the questions properly, ask the right questions, and then conduct all the proper follow-up tasks. Chances are you are going up against other candidates who will also be doing those same things. Now is the time to go that extra mile.
The best proactive strategies are somewhat subtle in nature and just flow with the rest of the process. The following are the top 5 strategies that 80% of candidates do not utilize:
1) Confirm your interview.
If you have at least a few days between when you set up your interview and when it actually takes place, use the extra time to your advantage. Call or email to confirm the interview, and let them know that you are really looking forward to it. Not very many candidates do this, yet it’s these little acts of professionalism that matter.
2) Develop a rapport with the people who interview you.
Typically interviews (including phone interviews), start out with some small talk. Don’t just answer questions asked of you, ask them questions too and get a lighthearted conversation going! Ask them how they are doing and maybe share a lighthearted story. Try to help take the rigid formality of a job interview down a notch so that the conversation can flow easier.
If any of the interviewers share something of some level of significance, be creative and use that information in further communications. Your thank you letter to that person could briefly mention something that had come up. For example, if an interviewer mentioned that his or her child was sick, why not briefly mention in your thank you letter that you hope his or her child is feeling better? Who wouldn’t appreciate that?
3) Ask if you can have a tour of the office/building/plant, etc.
This is especially effective if the company has a manufacturing facility and you can ask a lot of questions about their products and how they are made. Regardless, this is a great way to show that you have strong interest in the company. While on the tour, bring up several things that you know about the company (you have done your homework, right?) and ask questions about them. Take notice of things you see and either compliment them or ask questions about them.
4) Ask if you can learn about the company’s values and mission statement…
…if it doesn’t come up on its own in the interview. The values and mission statement are (or should be!) a very important part of a company’s culture. So few people ask about this stuff, and doing so demonstrates that you care about what the company stands for.
5) Send personalized thank you letters to every person who was in the interview.
Personalized means personal and unique to each person who was in the interview. Make it different than the others–reference communication items that are specific to that person if you can. This is a great approach, different from just sending a standard copy/paste thank you letter to them all. Many candidates do send separate emails to each interviewer but the content is the same. Thank you emails can and may get forwarded to others at times and when some were forwarded to me, I found it to be very impressive if the content was different from the one I received. Handwritten ones are a great idea as well. It’s more personal which is a nice touch. But since most people send them via email, timeliness can be an issue here. If you can spare the time to go all out, handwrite them and drop them off at the office the next day.
It’s little things like this that break you apart from the masses and help you really stand out. Sure, some of these are a little extra work. But if it helps you get the job, isn’t it worth it?
Jessica Simko is a seasoned senior level Human Resources professional with over 15 years experience in all facets of Human Resources Management. She is a Career Coach and Consultant specializing in helping all levels of professionals create, build, and sustain a strong career brand. She strives to help connect people to their passions and to leverage their brands in their job search and in their careers. Utilizing the career branding model, she offers job search and career branding articles as well as a variety of coaching services at the Career Branding Guide. Feel free to connect with her on: