Have you ever come out of an interview, either on the phone or in person and think that you absolutely nailed it? Depending upon how many interviews that you have been on, you would think that it is probably a large percentage of the time. In the interviewer’s mind, how many times have they thought that you were “a nice person, but, no way”? That answer occurs maybe more often than we would like to think.
In the electrical wholesale industry, unless someone is interviewing for a lower-level position, the job-seeker already has familiarity and experience in our business; and this goes for a distributor, manufacturer or rep. Bringing someone from outside of the industry has its own risks but it can work. They can bring fresh thoughts and new ideas but there is always the learning curve. And right now most businesses don’t have the luxury of time, money, resources and patience.
So we go to what we know best: the experienced candidate. The résumé is the first glimpse into one’s background and history. Let’s assume that the résumé looks great and the hiring manager, HR person, recruiter, etc. wants to move on to the next step. Whether the first interview is done on the phone or in person, here is some critical advice in order to tip the scales in your favor:
- It’s all about selling yourself. We want to see what you have done in the past and how it translates into success for the future. Selling your transferable skills is the secret. Don’t just tell us “what” you did for past employers; tell us “how” you did it, what the results were and how that will benefit the new company.
- Research, research, research! Do your homework on the new company. It’s amazing how much information you can find with a few keystrokes. If you can show your knowledge about their history, product lines, job description, etc., it will only show them how interested and familiar you are with their firm. The company website typically has much of the information that you need. Just click and learn!
- Just as you need to know a lot about the company, you need to make sure that you know your own background. Anyone can get tripped up on dates and companies. For this reason, go over your résumé carefully ahead of time and have one in front of you; whether on the phone or in person. Remember, if it is on your résumé, you need to be prepared to discuss it.
- Who do you know at the company, or does business with them (customer or vendor)? Many times a wellplaced dropped name can be an advantage; especially if that person is well-liked and respected. (It also helps if that person can give you a great reference.)
- What makes you stand out? Are you able to brand yourself as unique while still showing that you can be essential to their organization? Could it be the inflection of your tone during the initial phone call? Is it how you exude confidence and not arrogance? Or could it be simply that you were more prepared than other candidates?
- “Core” vs. “Expected” skills. Core skills are really what employers are looking for. Amongst others, these are personal qualities such as responsibility, self-management and even problem-solving talents. These assets can make the difference between what is “expected” and others that are desired. Expected skill examples can be education, years of experience and being computer savvy.
The face-to-face interview allows you to get immediate feedback and respond accordingly. You will also be able to see the company culture first-hand and decide if it’s for you. For example, walking into the headquarters of a company like Facebook would surprise most people; desks with no dividers, no real dress code, open office areas with beanbags instead of real chairs, and the boss who makes a lot of money is wearing a hoodie and shorts. But the reputation of the company has people lining up to get in. That is why their interview process is among the toughest. People who interview there have already done their research and know the company culture. Based on what they have learned, they can sell themselves and can accurately describe how their talents will benefit the company. Sound familiar now?
Be interested AND interesting. It comes down to our favorite word: fit. Hiring managers will state that not only is skill-set important, but the ability to fit into their company ‘style’ or ‘groove’ is equally as critical. Your mission is to determine a mutual fit and close the sale.