How to Handle an Inexperienced Interviewer:

You may be well prepared to answer a spectrum of interview questions as well as to discuss every aspect of your professional, educational and volunteer experiences.  However, when the time comes to prove that you are the right candidate for the job you encounter an interviewer who is ill-equipped to conduct the interview.  How do you convey your value to someone who is not asking appropriate questions and is barely capable of engaging in conversation?

 At times like this, we have to have some extra resources available to us.  It is up to the candidate to “carry” the interview without coming across as arrogant or condescending.  Here are some ideas if you are in a situation where the interviewer is not focusing on your background or on the potential position.

 Ask one of your prepared interview questions such as:

  • Questions regarding the culture of the organization or the history of the department and open position. Try to learn something about the environment to help you in your information quest.
  • What types of skills and traits are necessary to succeed in this organization.  Use this information to relate examples from your background that illustrate that you possess these characteristics.

The common factor in the above examples is to take the lead by focusing the interview through asking specific and targeted questions that allow you to provide the interviewer with the information that you want to convey and that would be helpful in determining if you are the right candidate for the job.  This tactic will prevent the interview from ending with the interviewer not knowing more about you than he/she did when the interview began.  Although this is normally the responsibility of both the interviewer and interviewee in a situation when the interviewer is not capable it is up to you to play that role alone.

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A Word about “Keywords”

To some it may be obvious, to others it may be confusing.  What are “Keywords” and how do they affect my job search?  View this information as Your Introduction to Keywords: 101.

It is really quite simple.  Keywords are words that an employer will use to screen candidates for an open position.  They are the “Key” words needed to ensure that the background of the candidate matches the needs of the company.  For example, say an employer is looking for an attorney with experience in Tax with a specific focus in Real Estate and Estate Planning.  If the employer is using a software system to do the first round screening of resumes submitted, the system will be programmed to scan all incoming resumes for “Keywords”.  If the resume contains the specified Keywords it will be put aside for further, possibly human screening. 

In this case, the words “attorney”, “lawyer”, “Tax”, “Real Estate”, Estate Planning” may be the Keywords that must be found in the resume in order to get through the first round of computerized screening.  Words like “U.S. Tax”, “Federal Tax”, “State Tax”, “International Tax”, “IRS or Internal Revenue Service” may also be considered Keywords.   Therefore, candidates who apply for that position should have those words appear in their resume in order to be selected as an appropriate possibility for the position.  The first clue in ensuring you have the Keywords in your resume is to look at the job description and see what specific words the employer used to describe the position and the requirements necessary and make sure that a significant number of those words appear in your resume.

Taking the extra few minutes to personalize your resume to reflect the Keywords is a worthwhile use of your time.  The content of your resume should not have to change you may just have to insert the specific words in the appropriate places.  Check all areas of your resume including skill set, education, certifications and experience.  The more matches you have to the company’s Keywords the more likely your resume will be selected.  View it the way you view an internet search; the more specific the search words you put in the better luck you will have in finding the right website.

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Reduce the Risk Factor

A manager is looking for a new employee.  Great!  There is a job available.  The resumes come pouring in.  What makes the manager select one resume over another?  Most managers want to reduce their risk.  Hiring an employee is always a risk.  Will the employee work out? Will they actually possess the right skills, the right personality, a good work-ethic, etc?  Will the employee outshine the manager?

A resume that helps make it easier for the manager to determine some of the above questions will more quickly end up in the “call-in” pile.  Record of achievements clearly spelled out on a resume reduce the risk factor on the part of the reader.  Obviously, the skill set has to be clearly evident but proof of the accomplishments of the potential candidate should be spelled out as well.  What does this candidate bring to the table over the other candidates?  Make it clear; make it stand out on your resume.

The concept of reducing the risk factor is critical on the interview as well.  Think about the things that might be concerns for the manager and without sounding cocky show the interviewer why you are not a risky hire.  When viewing the interview and resume from the “Risk Factor” perspective, it can help guide the candidate to make sure the right message comes across.

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Questions for Preparing a Focused Resume:

A resume is a job candidate’s opportunity to pique the interest of a prospective employer.  It is the first step in a process and there are things that a candidate can do to help make it a successful first step.  When preparing your resume ask yourself the following types of questions:

  •  What did I do that added to the efficiency or effectiveness of a task or procedure?
  • Did I improve the way something was done?
  • Did I help reduce costs in any way?
  • Did I help increase profits in any way?
  • Did I bring in any new clients?
  • Did I make the experience better for any clients?
  • Did I notice or fix an issue in how something was being done?
  • Did I make things easier for my manager or co-workers?

 The theme in the above questions is:  What did I add to the position?  How can I quantify my accomplishments?

 Although you will hear a great deal about “KeyWords” and indicating that your background matches the needs described in the job description, it is critical that you convey what you bring to the table.  The skills are important but you need to differentiate yourself from the other candidates with the same basic skill set.  Make sure your resume markets why an employer should meet with you!

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Portray Confidence During An Interview


How to ensure that you portray confidence during an interview:
Dress the part:
Dressing for success makes you look successful and helps you feel confident that you are or will be successful.  Our external appearance definitely influences how we feel internally, so select your interviewing outfit with care.  An extra bonus, it adds to a positive first impression and provides an expectation of a confident person.
Be prepared:
Arriving at the interview fully armed with information adds to your confidence.  You will less likely be nervous about being stumped if you have background information on the interviewer, position and employer as well as well-practiced answers to typical (and not so typical) interview questions. 
Focus on something you know you do well:
Relax yourself before the interview by focusing on a skill that you have whether it relates to the position or not.  Thinking about something positive or a strength of ours helps us feel better and more confident about ourselves.
Remember that even the interviewer is human: 
Yes, he or she may have a strong influence over whether you get to the next step in the interviewing process but remember that the interviewer is someone’s son/daughter, spouse, brother/sister, mother/father.  Reduce your anxiety level and increase your confidence by changing how you view the interviewer.
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Five Tips to Successful Interviewing

The interview is generally a critical step in the job application process.  Some people feel like they can interview in their sleep while others cringe at the thought of sitting through the process.  Regardless of where you fit on the spectrum the following tips are helpful to “shake up” your interviewing.
Five Interview Do’s:
Practice before-hand:
Verbalize answers to typical interview questions before the interview.  Trying to formulate the right words during an interview is risky.
Portray confidence:
Show confidence in your ability to have a positive impact.  Believing in yourself will make the interviewer more confident in your abilities.
Use real examples from your work experience:
Avoid stating generic facts.  Have real examples from your background – short stories that prove you are a good hire.
Do your homework before the interview:
Spend time researching the company, department and interviewer.  The Internet has a great deal of information – use it to your advantage.  Interviewers are impressed when you show you took the time to get to know the company.
Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes:
Hiring someone is always a risk.  Help the interviewer realize that you are a low-risk candidate by demonstrating your abilities, flexibility, positive attitude and how you will be a valuable asset for the company.
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Resume Tips

Resume Tips to Remember:

  • At least once a quarter, jot down your accomplishments and projects that you have worked on. Trying to reconstruct the past without notes can be very difficult!
  • Think about what you have done that made a difference to a process or department. Stay away from just describing your job – rather describe what your impact has been.
  • Don’t bog the reader down with unnecessary information. The reader should be able to understand your background from a quick review of your resume. Concise is nice! Length is not!
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