10 Tips to Acing a Job Interview
About Jobs: After a Divorce, 10 Tips to Help You Get the Job You Want
Landing a job that pays what you’re worth in today’s marketplace is a multi-step process. It could take days, perhaps weeks (or longer). Be patient. After you pinpoint a handful of job openings you’re qualified for and create an attention-getting resume and cover letter, hopefully you’ll be invited to participate in one or more job interviews.
Depending on the position, your interview might be conducted in-person, over the telephone or as part of a group. You should also be prepared for several people to interview you.Regardless of the job interview setting, there are specific things you can do to properly prepare for the interview.
SOME TOPICS SHOULD NOT BE DISCUSSED
During your job interviews, there are certain topics — such as your recent divorce or the fact that you’re now raising your children or teens as a single parent — that should be avoided, at least initially. Providing too much personal information could jeopardize your chances of getting hired.
As difficult as it may be, be sure to separate the personal from the professional when interviewing for a new job.Your feelings of anger and insecurity are understandable, but the fact remains that potential employers really don’t want to hear about your personal challenges. Instead, keep your personal life personal, and focus on impressing the potential employer by emphasizing the contributions you can make to the future success of their organization,” explained Nancy Collamer, career coach, founder of www.jobsandmoms.com, and creator of The Back-to-Work-Toolkit: A Guide for Comeback Moms.
Also, if you’re returning to work after an extended absence, you’ll need to account for the gaps between jobs (the time you spent at home raising your kids or being a homemaker, for example). Plus, if you’re now a single parent, you’ll need to assure the interviewer(s) in no uncertain terms that your parental responsibilities will not jeopardize your ability to meet the requirements of the position.
When asked about your decision to stay home with your children, be upbeat and positive. Use phrases like ‘I elected’ or ‘I chose’ to emphasize that your decision to stay home was planned and deliberate, not just a default position.Explain that you feel fortunate to have been able to be home with your children while they were young; emphasize that you have gained valuable skills during this time period; and then quickly steer the focus of the discussion back to your interest in the job,” says Collamer.
During your interviews, never get defensive about your past. Whatever you do, never apologize for your decision to stay home or make excuses about why you didn’t return to work earlier. If you feel good about the choice you made, the interviewer will appreciate your comfort and conviction. Employers want to hire people with positive attitudes who demonstrate confidence in their choices,” added Collamer.
The good news is that employers have become family-friendly and understand the unique needs of a single parent. Your first goal should be to pinpoint these potential employers. “Working Mother” magazine, for example, publishes an annual list of the top 100 family-friendly employers in America.
For someone who is returning to work after an extended absence, instead of focusing on your employment history, focus specifically on your skills and qualifications. Any experiences that have allowed you to develop and hone your skills (as they relate to the job you’re applying for) should be highlighted for potential employers, including volunteer work, part-time jobs, past employment, internships and other life experiences you’ve had.
10 JOB INTERVIEW STEPS
Try to schedule all job interviews at least 24 to 48-hours in advance. This will give you ample time to get ready. Regardless of how experienced you are participating in job interviews, you’ll want to prepare for each interview separately. Your preparation should include the following 10 steps:
1. Get the facts.
Obtain the name and job title of the person you’ll be interviewing with, as well as the address where the interview will be held. Determine how you’ll get to the interview and arrive at least 15 minutes early. Never be late for an interview.
2. Do some research.
Learn as much about the company as possible, including what challenges it’s facing, how it’s performed recently and who its primary competition is. The Internet is a powerful research tool. If the potential employer is publicly traded, read a copy of its annual report.
3. Learn about the job opening.
Know what your responsibilities might entail, plus what qualifications and skills the employer is specifically looking for in applicants. This information is usually described in a ‘Help Wanted’ ad, or within a job description. Showcase yourself as the ideal applicant.
4. Determine your presentation.
Figure out how you’ll present yourself during the interview. Your appearance and wardrobe should be consistent with the people currently working for the employer.
5. Anticipate the questions.
Prepare well-thought-out responses. Almost every employer will ask, What made you apply for this job?” They’ll also make statements like, So, tell me about yourself.”
6. Put a positive spin on any negatives.
Decide what you plan to say about negative information in your employment history, such as gaps in employment. If you come off as someone with personal problems, who is distracted by your family, or someone going through a lot of emotional turmoil as a result of your divorce, this will negatively impact your chances of getting hired.
7. Ask some questions.
Prepare a list of relevant questions you can ask the employer during the interview that will showcase your knowledge and interest in the job.
8. Never ask about salary, benefits or vacation time.
Ask these questions only after you’ve received a job offer.
9. Bring copies.
Gather copies of your resume, research materials and other items that you’ll bring into the interview.
10. Participate in a mock interview,
Actually participate in a mock interview with a career counselor, friend or relative who will be able to help prepare you for the actual interview. The more you rehearse and prepare, the more relaxed and confident you’ll ultimately be.
There is no substitute for pre-interview preparation. Never get lazy and try to wing an interview. If the interviewer or human resources professional gets the impression you don’t have a clue about the company or the position you’ve applied for, you won’t get hired.
10 TIPS FOR ACING A JOB INTERVIEW
Okay, so your resume and cover letter have done their job and you’ve peaked a potential employer’s interest in you. Now, walk into the interview situation prepared to dazzle whomever will be conducting the interview “ whether it’s someone from the company’s human resources department or the person who will ultimately be your supervisor or boss if you get hired. These ten strategies will help you ace any interview situation and increase your chances of getting hired:
1. Arrive at least 15-minutes early.
Be ready to impress whomever you meet when you step through the potential employer’s front door. Act friendly and professional as you interact with employees you encounter prior, during and after the actual interview.
2. Posture counts.
Once the interview begins, sit up straight, smile, and make plenty of eye contact with the interviewer(s).
3. Engage in a friendly, two-way conversation.
Don’t just answer the interviewer’s questions.
4. When answering a question, always think about your answer before you respond.
First, allow the interviewer to finishing asking their question, and then answer using complete sentences. Never imply a question is stupid orhas already asked a similar question. If this happens, respond with something like, As I mentioned earlier.
5. Throughout the interview focus on showcasing your education, skills and experience.
Always match what you can offer with what the employer is seeking. Don’t just make grandiose statements, however.
6. Provide examples.
Be prepared to provide examples of how you’ve used your skills, experience and education to handle past work-related responsibilities or solve past challenges.
7. Don’t brag.
Remember, there’s a fine line between showing off your knowledge and skills, and coming off as arrogant.
8. Avoid discussing overly personal topics.
If you’re currently going through a lot of personal drama as a result of your divorce, your job interview is not the time or place to discuss it!
9. Deal with concerns about parenting.
If the employer expresses concern that your responsibilities as a single parent will negatively impact your ability to do your job, stress the fact that you have strategies already in place to deal with last-minute, kid-related emergencies.
10. Address time gaps in your resume.
When the employer asks about a large time gap in your employment history, you can state simply that you took time off to be a stay-at-home mom or homemaker. You do not need to go into detail about your divorce or current relationship status.
As the interview process comes to an end, determine what the next step(s) should be. Will the interviewer contact you? If so, how and when? Do you need to provide additional information or materials to the employer? If so, do this quickly. Is it necessary for you to follow up by phone, via e-mail or in-person within a specific time period?
After every job interview, whether you believe it went well or not, send a hand-written Thank You letter to the interviewer(s). It should be mailed within 24-hours after the interview. In your letter, thank the person for their time, and once again state how much you would like the job. Stress again how much of an asset you will be to the employer if you’re hired. If you don’t hear from the employer within five business days, it’s appropriate to follow up with a phone call or e-mail. Don’t, however, become a pest.Should you learn that you’ve been passed over, consider asking why, so you can modify your job search approach in the future. If you’re consistently not landing jobs you know you’re qualified to fill, consider meeting with a career counselor or seeking assistance from a headhunter or job employment agency. You might need to take a different approach during your interviews or fine-tune your resume.
Oh, and if you maintain a personal blog or website, for example, assume a potential employer will Google you, find your online presence, and then read it as part of their background check, especially if you’re applying for a non-entry-level position. Don’t forget to take a closer look at your social media accounts, too. Make sure your online presence contains no information or photos that might be counterproductive to you getting hired. For example, Facebook photos of you drunk at a party, a blog post badmouthing a past employer, or any discussion about a messy divorce should be removed prior to kicking off your job search efforts.
GET READY TO RETURN TO THE WORKFORCE
Finding and landing a new job will mean additional major changes in your life and daily schedule. Following your divorce, this may or may not be something you’re emotionally ready for, but it’s a reality.
“The emotional and logistical issues involved in securing employment following a divorce can be overwhelming. Don’t try to go down this road alone. Ask for help. Friends and family can be an indispensable form of support and resources, but don’t hesitate to secure help from outside sources as well. You might find a therapist useful, or you might benefit from joining a divorce support group, where you can learn from others who share a firsthand understanding of the issues you face. For assistance with the specifics of the job search, enlist the aid of a qualified career counselor,” says Collamer.