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26 Things You Can Do To Become The Ideal Job Candidate

StrategyDriven Professional Development Article |Job Interview|26 Things You Can Do To Become The Ideal Job CandidateIf there’s a job you really want, then you need to take your time preparing and becoming the ideal job candidate. This means that when your interview rolls around, you’ll feel ready to handle whatever the process throws at you, and feel confident that you did your very best once you’ve left. Below, you’ll find 26 things you can do to become the ideal job candidate:

Be Candid

Candid individuals often make great communicators, and these people are essential for the office. You need a direct, clear way of speaking, and this will help to eliminate crossed wires and anything else that could cause problems. You’ll also engage more people in conversation and encourage faster action this way.

Be Friendly

You should be friendly. You might be a straight-talking fierce and competitive person who wants to land the job, but you should still be friendly to everyone you meet.

Be Ambitious

Ambitious employees tend to always want to come up with an improved way of doing things. They tend to overcome hurdles, and are never satisfied, always working for better solutions. This is what most organizations will want to see.

Be Adaptable

You must be able to change with the business environment, and this goes for any job you get. Having a comfort zone can be nice sometimes, but those who love familiarity and hate change won’t get very far in the workplace.

Show Your Creativity

Many companies want creative employees who can increase innovation. You should be able to both work autonomously and come up with new ways of completing old tasks.

Be Decisive

Making tough decisions is, well, tough. But companies love to be able to see that candidates feel confident doing that. People who can quickly and efficiently analyze the options and potential outcomes of a situation will always be more likely to get hired. Nobody wants a wishy washy employee who struggles to make even basic decisions. Remember, decisiveness is a skill you can practice.

Be Team Oriented

When recruiting, many people will look for those who buy into the system and can work in a team. You should be able to work by cooperating with others, fitting into the company’s culture.

Be Goal Oriented

Escalating your goals is a great trait to have – and you should enjoy the journey along the way, too. If you can show this to an employer, they will be more likely to hire you. They want to see people who can set their own goals and have a passion for the job and industry that they are in.

Be Intelligent

Intelligence is an important part of success. Of course there are variables, but you should be willing to show both your intelligence as well as your willingness to learn new things when going for a job. You may show that you’re intelligent by talking about your PMP Exam Prep or a recent course/study you took part in. Self directed learning and study is a great trait to have.

Make Sure You’re A Cultural Fit

If you’re not a cultural fit, then you should probably give up on the job now. Pretending to be a cultural fit may work, but the truth will come out in the end and you will hate working in this environment. Will you truly enjoy working here on a daily basis?

Be Upbeat

Showing that you can be energetic and upbeat each day is important. This can help others to build momentum, too, and employers love optimistic employees.

Be Confident

Having confidence is not egotistical or wrong. The best companies want to hire people who have confidence in themselves. This spawns a culture of improvement.

Show That You Are Internationally Aware

A global mindset is essential for growing businesses. You should be aware and sensitive to other cultures, customs, events, and perspectives if you’re going to succeed.

Groom Yourself

You may have all of the skills, but if you don’t take care of your hygiene and appearance then employers will think twice about hiring you. Make sure you dress appropriately and that you’re always clean and smelling fresh. Just because you can’t smell your coffee breath doesn’t mean it’s not there!

Prepare For The Questions

Make sure you carefully prepare for questions before you attend the interview. Have answers for questions such as ‘why do you want this job?’ and ‘tell us about yourself’. Make sure you relate everything back to the job and the company!

Research the Company

Having a decent knowledge of the company before you attend your interview is essential, so do your research. If you don’t bother to do this, hiring managers may well eliminate you from the hiring pool. Do your homework on the company’s website, blog, social channels, Glassdoor, and Wikipedia. Make sure you know who their competitors are and why they are different, too.

Find Out Who You’re Interviewing With and Research Them

As well as finding out what you can about the company, make sure you do your research on the person you’ll be having your interview with.

Ask Your Own Questions

Always make your interest clear by asking your own genuine questions. Let them ask you questions first, and have yours prepared at the end of the interview. Write the answers down!

Dress For The Job

How you dress will depend on the job you’re going for. Dress for the job you want, as if you have it already. Show them how you will be arriving into work. Don’t try to be too trendy or fashionable here.

Bring Two Extra Copies of Your Résumé

If you show up to your interview with no copies of your resume, you’re making a huge mistake. Don’t assume that the person you’ll be speaking with has one already. They may know nothing about you. If you have spare copies on you, you’ll never be caught off guard.

Turn Your Phone Off and Arrive Five to 10 Minutes Early

You shouldn’t be tempted to check your phone, and you definitely don’t want it buzzing away while you’re trying to answer a pressing question. Get there 10 minutes early (not too early), and turn your phone off. If you arrive too early then you might mess up the interviewer’s schedule if they feel they must accommodate you. Turning up too early can be just as rude as turning up late. 5-10 minutes before your interview time is a good time to aim for. Find somewhere else to wait if you arrive at the location even earlier.

Stay Engaged During Conversation

Make sure you don’t get eliminated from the process by not showing you are actively listening. Smile, nod, and make eye contact. You will make an impression by showing you are a good listener.

Get the Email Address of Everyone You Speak With

This will be helpful when the interview is over and you’ll be able to easily follow up.

Ask When to Expect a Decision and With Whom to Follow-Up

You shouldn’t leave the interview feeling confused about when you’re going to hear back. Don’t be too pushy, but make sure you have an idea of when you should know by and who you should speak to about it. Pay close attention to how they respond at the end of the interview and you should get a good idea of how it went, too.

Tell Them You Want The Job

If you’re feeling excited at the prospect of having this job by the end of the interview, make sure you tell them so. Let it be known how excited this opportunity makes you and allow your passion for the role to shine through.

Send a Follow-Up Thank You Email

Sending a quick, personalized email saying thank you to everybody you met with earlier on in the day will stand you in good stead. Mention a small detail or topic you discussed to personalize it, and make an even better impression on them even once the interview process is over. A handwritten thank you card could go down really well, too.

If you don’t hear back within 5 business days, it’s ok to follow up again. Make sure you know the point of contact and send a message that is short – you don’t want to come across as pushy or as if you’re nudging them into making a decision. You should seek to provide some value, however.

Becoming the ideal job candidate may take a little time and practice, depending on the role. The more you practice for this, the better the interview process will likely go. Ask somebody you trust to run through questions with you as if you were in a real interview. Don’t leave anything to chance and make sure you feel well prepared. You may never feel 100% ready, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t or that you’re not right for the role. Be positive – you might be just the kind of person that they are looking for!

Advice to New Graduates in Their Job Search: ‘Put Your Baseball Cap to the Side’

If you are a recent college graduate entering the job market after spending the summer backpacking through Europe or taking some downtime, you are facing a tight labor market.

Now is the time to put your baseball cap to the side and look long and hard at how you can present yourself to an employer in the best possible light.

Here are some basic, yet all-important, steps you can take to stand apart from the crowd as you embark on your job search in this highly competitive environment:

Have a great resume – The newly minted grad should have a resume that looks grounded and substantial. It should be free from typos, organized and feature a classic font. Don’t get artsy unless you are looking for a job in a creative field. It should be one-page long and leverage every marquis interaction you have had. Cite every internship and recognized brand company name.

Get great references – Call your professional references, network with them, and ask them if you can count on them for a glowing reference. Solicit their advice on your job search and ask for their feedback on your resume. This is the time to start thinking about who could be your mentor when you need to make career decisions.

Practice interviewing – Before you meet anyone, practice conducting an interview. You can find sample interview questions suited to your industry online. It’s important to be able to field tough interview questions that come your way, so rehearse interviews with a trusted advisor. Candidates who are unprepared for interviews are a constant source of irritation to hiring managers.

Interview for information – Ask and arrange for informational interviews. Not only are they an opportunity to practice your interviewing style, but they also may provide you with an opportunity to get your foot in the door. Go dressed like you are ready for a real interview; make eye contact; be aware of your body language and be prepared with questions. It’s important to demonstrate that you are serious even though the interview is informational. Ask about their hiring plans for the year. Ask them for advice. Take notes and pay attention. Follow up with an emailed or written thank-you note and connect on LinkedIn.

Know what you want and be specific – Be prepared to tell a prospective employer exactly what you want. Refer to your skills, education and contacts that are applicable. You should be able to clearly articulate your goals and vision. This can leave a far better impression than trying to be flexible, open to anything and non-committal.

Be prepared to discuss the highlights of your academic career – Your GPA and even your SAT scores matter. Prospective employers, especially for highly quantitative roles, look at these scores to benchmark candidates competing for entry-level positions.

Perhaps the best thing you can do is get an advisor or mentor. Ask them for advice and candid feedback. Have them role-play interviews with you, review your resume with fresh eyes, and ask if they’d be willing to give you a reference if needed. Having someone in your corner during the job search process can make all the difference.


About the Author

Kathy HarrisKathy Harris is Managing Partner of New York City-based Harris Allied, an executive search firm specializing in Technology, UX/UI Design and Quant Analyst placement services in the Financial Services, Professional Services, Consumer Products, Digital Media and Tech Industries For more information, visit www.harrisallied.com. Contact Kathy Harris at [email protected].

Treat Job Interviews on the Phone, Via Skype or Video Conference as You Would In Person

With nearly half of all interviews for technology-related jobs being conducted remotely, job seekers should prepare for them just as they would for an in-person interview at the company’s own offices.

More companies are conducting interviews with job candidates via phone, Skype or video conference, especially for first interviews where a hiring manager is simply trying to pre-screen candidates for the team or when a candidate lives too far away to justify flying in for a quick interview at this early stage in the process. But job seekers are not always comfortable with the virtual aspect of this kind of interview.

Unfortunately, lack of preparation for a remote interview can put even the best candidate in an unfavorable light and ruin their chances for a next round, onsite interview. The saying, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail,” really rings true in these situations.

Here are some suggestions for job seekers who stand a good chance of having to be interviewed remotely:

  • Land lines still offer the best connection: When possible, arrange to conduct the interview over a land line. Cell calls, which are more routine than ever, still get dropped and can prove unreliable in the most important moments.
  • Go to a quiet place: A barking dog, crying baby or street traffic all present a distraction. Make sure you conduct your interview in a quiet room with the door closed, just as you would be doing if you were interviewing onsite at the prospective employer.
  • Get a pen and paper: Have something to write on and write with, as well as a copy of your resume, with you. Just as you would during an in-person interview, jot down important questions you want to ask, readily reference dates and key skills on your resume. Take notes about the position that the hiring manager shares with you.
  • Have questions ready: Make sure you have two or three questions to ask about the position ready to ask at the end of the call. The hiring manager will most likely ask if you have any questions. In an effort to both reinforce your interest in the position, as well as cover those aspects of the position you are keen to have answers about, have those questions ready to share. Ask for example “Am I a fit for the role?” or “What are my next steps?” These reinforce that you are very interested in the position.
  • Be timely: Showing up late for a job interview is getting off on the wrong foot. Be as punctual for those remote interviews as you would be in person.
  • Dress appropriately: Even if the interview is virtual, make sure to dress for the office culture you are interviewing for. If it’s business casual, wear a button-down shirt and slacks. If it’s a suit-and-tie shop, dress to impress. The only exception would be if you are coming from your current job where the dress code is different. Regardless, dress to impress. T-shirts and jeans are never suitable attire for any job interview.
  • Think on your feet: If you are conducting the interview via phone, stand up when you are speaking. You will naturally have more conviction in your voice and this translates to confidence and a smile.
  • Sit up straight: If your interviewer can see you during your remote interview, sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Also, feel free to gesture naturally with your hands if you do so when you are speaking in person. You will come across naturally and with confidence, as well.
  • Practice, practice, practice: Sometimes the technology associated with a remote interview makes people uncomfortable. Practice on Skype with a friend; find your best angle; and get comfortable with the controls, volume and camera position, for example. Do the interview on a laptop or computer screen versus an iPad. Don’t wear white, since it is a bad choice on camera; wear a blue shirt instead. Keep jewelry to a minimum. Wear a jacket if you are prone to sweating when you are nervous.

While in-person interviews are always preferable, remote ones have become the norm, except for C-Suite executives. If you are offered a choice, always go with the in-person interview. But if not, you CAN take the steps necessary to leave a good impression.


About the Author

Kathy HarrisKathy Harris is Managing Partner of New York City-based Harris Allied, an executive search firm specializing in Technology, UX/UI Design and Quant Analyst placement services in the Financial Services, Professional Services, Consumer Products, Digital Media and Tech Industries For more information, visit www.harrisallied.com. Contact Kathy Harris at [email protected].