With nearly six unemployed workers for every job opening, competition for openings is tough.
But there are ways to stand out in an interview. Lakes area human resources experts offered a few tips to give jobseekers every possible advantage.
A repeated theme from hiring professionals may be one of the easiest to accomplish - express interest in the job.
Christina Landree (left), branch operations manager at Pro Staff in Baxter, worked with office team member Mary Holbrook Thursday. Pro Staff members and other lakes area human resource professionals provided tips to help jobseekers navigate the job interview. Brainerd Dispatch/Renee Richardson » Purchase reprints of this photo.
In answering the question of why you are interested in the job, Amy Sjoblad, human resources generalist at Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union, said many candidates focus on what the job or the company is going to offer them. And in doing so they may be missing a chance to advance their cause.
"Rather than answering this question by simply stating that the job is a great opportunity, focus on what you - as the candidate - can do for the company," Sjoblad said. "Take every opportunity to link how your experience matches the qualifications they are looking for. If you don't make that connection, there's no guarantee the interviewer will."
At Pro Staff in Baxter, staff members Christina Landree, Mary Holbrook and Sandy Fowler said the best first impression and best way to land an job comes by expressing confidence, dressing appropriately and smiling during, before and after the interview.
Landree, branch operations manager, said it's important to dress appropriately even when it comes to picking up the job application. So running in wearing beach attire isn't likely to help you stand out in a good way.
Another way to end up on the reject pile before a word is spoken is by making simple errors when applying for the job. Kristi Westbrock, human resources director at Consolidated Telecommunications Co. in Brainerd, summed it up in two words: "Spell check."
"So many times applications and resumes are presented in a way that appears that the candidate hasn't 'double checked' their entry on the application or resume," Westbrock said. "Answers to application questions and resume qualifications should be clear and thoughtful."
When the interviewer asks about any weaknesses, Sjoblad said answering "I can't think of any" isn't going to impress. While honesty is one of the attributes the interviewer is looking for, it's best not to go overboard. Instead, be honest about an area that needs improvement and note what progress you've made in addressing it.
Prepare for the interview. Review the job description, prepare answers for questions so you'll be ready when the interviewer says "tell me a time when..."
"For instance, if customer service experience is required, it is highly likely that you'll be asked to provide an example of a time when you provided exceptional customer service," Sjoblad said.
Do you have any questions for me?
Asking good questions can make or break the interview, Sjoblad said. "Refrain from asking about benefits, salary or if you'll get an office and focus on questions that show your true interest in the position versus how the company can help you."
How should you follow-up an interview?
Westbrock suggested asking for a timeline regarding a hiring decision during the interview.
"This will allow the applicant to know when to follow-up with the potential employer so that the applicant does not appear 'pushy' with phone calls or e-mails to find out if a decision has been made," Westbrock said.
A thank you card is welcome and is a way to set yourself apart. At the very least, send a thank you e-mail. If the interviewer said they'd make a decision in a week, it's perfectly acceptable to call and check on the result when the time is up. After that following up every seven to 10 days is appropriate depending on what the interviewer set for a time frame, Pro Staff reported.
"Reiterate your interest in sending a thank you note within 48-hours of the interview," Westbrock said. "Employers today are interviewing several candidates for one position. Anything the candidate can do to show genuine interest in the position and company cannot cause harm to the applicant."
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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