One thing I’m finding out about my struggle to land a new job isn’t the fact that I can land a job interview — it’s the fact that I sometimes drop the ball during the nerve-wracking event.
Since my layoff May 13 I’ve had three job interviews. Two of those interviews were from potential employers who called me the same day I applied to the position.
I will research the employer’s website to learn more about the organization at least a day before the interview, followed by jotting down some specific question-scenarios the employer may ask me during the interview to help me prepare. Basically, I am well prepared going into an interview.
During the interview, however, that is a completely different story.
I find that I am grossly underselling myself. I don’t make myself standout among the dozens of other candidates who are contending for the same position. I found this out the hard way after a potential employer informed me they had to chose among a lot of “excellent candidates.”
It’s a tough grind, to say the least. But after attending a provincial-government-funded workshop — offered by BGS Career & Corporate Development — this week, I learned five things:
1. Show the potential employer that you are passionate about the work that you do or the work that you may be doing once your hired.
This was the biggest lesson for me, as I found out during the workshop. I always describe myself as a storyteller and a journalist. But to an employer, I’m probably not going to get hired by just saying I am a journalist and a storyteller — especially if I’m among a handful of candidates with journalism backgrounds.
You need to show why you love the work that you do, or how the new job you are applying for will help fuel your passion. For me, I love the fact that my storytelling raised awareness for the charity that employed me during my last job. It was gratifying — I was able to raise awareness about medical research and about the struggles patients have for certain diseases like asthma and COPD.
2. Be confident.
After losing my job, it’s hard to be confident, especially when I’m among a handful of candidates with similar backgrounds looking for the same work. Also, I’m not one to brag, but as BGS pointed out during the workshop, you almost have to.
As Canadians, we’re too reserved. We’re not ones to boast about ourselves, but to an employer, you have to showcase how good your skills are. You can’t undersell yourself.
And to add to that, you have to show how your so-called awesomeness helped a supervisor or your previous employer in the past.
3. A mission and vision statement says a lot about the organization
A mission statement says a lot about the organization you’re applying for. It’s a must-thing to pay attention to before an interview. A mission and vision statement speaks about the work culture and the organization’s expectations for its staff.
During one interview I had this week I found out the organization didn’t have a mission or vision statement. So I asked about it. I felt it helped me during the interview as the potential employer told me his company values integrity, which is practised by its entire team.
4. Just be yourself.
An organization that is interviewing you is determining if you and your personality are good fits for the organization — along with figuring out if your values are aligned with the organization’s values. It’s more than just skills and qualifications.
Sometimes getting a rejection from a potential employer has nothing to do with your skills, experience or qualifications. This a good reason why you should never try to pretend to be someone else during an interview just so you can win the job. Just be yourself. Getting a “no” sometimes could be a good thing for you if the potential employer explains that you weren’t the right fit.
5. Plan to say everything you want to share to win the job.
As BGS Career & Corporate Development pointed out, it’s always important to prepare for an interview. It will help you share everything that you want to tell to a potential employer.
With that said, there have been a lot of times where I’ve left an interview feeling that I forgot to tell an employer something that would have added to my proof of my skills and qualifications for the job.
BGS recommends preparing for a closing by jotting down some notes highlighting the things that you would like to share during the interview. Make sure you’ve said everything on that list before the interview ends.