How to get the job of your Dreams?
June 20, 2005 10:56 PM   Subscribe

Right now, I'm an applicant for a position I'm really interested in getting. What tricks can you suggest to help my chances of obtaining the position? What worked for you?
posted by dial-tone to Work & Money (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Know as much about the company and what it is doing currently as possible. Insert your carefully researched knowledge into your interview responses. Ask smart, informed questions to the interviewer about the company, the position and where things are going. This will demonstrate your intelligence and enthusiasm in the position to the person(s) who may be involved in the hiring decision.
posted by Rothko at 11:28 PM on June 20, 2005

Send a thank you card after your interview.
posted by rafter at 11:46 PM on June 20, 2005

While the above advice is good, its also kind of generic. Thats partly because it depends on the type of job. Want tricks?

At some level, applicants start to look the same. The thing is that hiring someone is always a big risk. If they don't work out, its hard to get rid of them. So, on that note, you want to make them feel like they are not taking a huge gamble by hiring you.

Try to find any kind of connection to the people doing the hiring. Do you know anyone at the company who is well-respected there and can recommend you? Did you work at a previous company with or go to the same college as anyone there?

Think of anything you can that will make you more than just an "applicant" and make you human and real and someone they can trust. Don't seem like you're hiding anything on your resume or in your interviews or you've lost a major edge.

But I'd again stress the connections. Someone they know who can vouch for you is worth gold.
posted by vacapinta at 12:09 AM on June 21, 2005

A combination of the two posts above - the thank you letter's the human touch.

You interview say 5-10 people for a post, there'll be a few unsuitables, and then you're left with a bunch of applicants who all have their individual merits. So their resumes sit on your desk for a week and you mull it over because, yes, hiring someone is a big risk. And then the thank you letter arrives - not just any old nonsense but something intelligent and polite - and the deal is done.
posted by forallmankind at 2:50 AM on June 21, 2005

Ask a lot of questions in your interview, and keep the questions positive.

I don't know how to get interviews- it seems like a real crapshoot to me.

Best of luck. As someone who's just getting out of the job-seeking market, I know how much the uncertainty can damper your spirit!
posted by elisabeth r at 3:57 AM on June 21, 2005

The best thing you can do? Let them know you want the job.

I know that sounds like a totally obvious point, but in reality it's not. This may seem like a bit of a tangent, but there's a long-standing saying in consulting about any pitch or sales meeting--"Make sure you ask for the business". It makes a tremendous psychological difference for a potential client to hear you say "We really want your business." Sure, you'd assume that every company pitching for a job wants it, but I can't tell you how many clients have told me "We picked you because you clearly wanted to work with us more than the other guys."

Same thing with a situation like this, where you're basically selling yourself--you don't have to make a big deal of it, but make sure you say, clearly and simply, that you really want the job.

If things get to the next step, and they want to talk more about having you come on board and narrow down salary, etc., then the same thing--just make it clear to them up front that "I'm delighted to talk through any of that stuff, but I'm focused on making this happen. I'm sure we can work out an answer." (That should also let you negotiate pretty aggressively, without sabotaging the whole deal.)

Good luck!
posted by LairBob at 4:13 AM on June 21, 2005

Whatever you do, don't show up late for the interview. Dress professionally, even if they tell you don't need to dress up - by professional, I mean neat appearance, not your favorite torn up jeans and your metallica t-shirt.

Answer the questions honestly. Like vacapinta said, try to find things in common and make a connection with your interviewers. They're more likely to remember you, and if they like you, more likely to hire you. Bring examples of your work if you can, and bring extra copies of your resume. Don't be modest or play down your accomplishments and skills. They want to know how great you are, so tell them.

Good luck!
posted by geeky at 5:34 AM on June 21, 2005

What LairBob said. A job interview is a sales call, and the product you're selling is yourself. Any approach consistent with these facts might be helpful. Any approach inconsistent is completely destructive.

I'm always amazed by candidates who, in one way or another, demand that I sell the job to them, disparage their skill sets, or put their motives into question.
posted by MattD at 6:23 AM on June 21, 2005

The easiest way for a candidate to impress me is to ask intelligent, incisive, questions about the work and the workplace. Questions you might ask while actually working with someone in performing the work. This lets me know A) you're interested, B) you know the score, and C) what skillsets you have without me having to ask. Do not dominate the interview though.
posted by jimfl at 6:56 AM on June 21, 2005

Good advice by all, especially the thank you note. However.... as someone who has done several job searches and just watched my wife go through one, the best way I found to cope with that time between conact, interview and offer (or rejection) is to continue looking for a job. Knowing that you already have a good possibility in the works only makes you appear more confident in subsequent interviews and you may find something even better. If not, feel free to accept the first job when it is offered. Until they offer and you accept, you owe them no loyalty and it is in your best interest to continue to look. This helps in two ways: a) you don't have the job yet and still need to look, just in case, and b) it gives you something constructive to do while you're waiting to hear; this helps you keep your sanity.

My wife recently interviewed for teaching positions. She felt *sure* that one particular school would extend an offer. She still hasn't heard from them either way. In the mean time, though, she has found and accepted an even better job.
posted by Doohickie at 7:05 AM on June 21, 2005

Ditto LiarBob's comments. I recently hired someone to fill a position, and it came down to two candidates who were roughly equal on the balance sheet. I wound up hiring the guy who (a) did up-front research about my company before the interview and (b) was persistent in following up with HR about how excited he was and how much he wanted the job.

Believe me, those things get noticed.
posted by mkultra at 9:02 AM on June 21, 2005

i had a really good (short) interview recently. it was short because it was soon clear i couldn't get the job for "external" factors, but it was by far the best interview i've given in my life.

at the time i was completely and utterly emotionally exhausted after a terrible day at work. i'd been sobbing down the phone in frustration just 30 minutes before, venting all the bad vibes to my poor partner.

anyway, somehow, that just let me be more open. i really wanted the position, because i felt i could really make it work: it was a perfect fit to my skills; i knew i could pick it up and run with it; i was looking forwards to people saying i was doing a good job. like i say, i was pretty whack by that point in the day, and i really cared about this. so when they asked why, it just all came pouring out.

maybe there was a risk of overwhelming them. perhaps the fact that i knew one of the people interviewing me slightly helped, or the isolation of doing it over a teleconference. but somehow everything connected. they believed i cared about the job. they believed i could do it, well. at least, i think so.

so i guess what i'm saying is if you really want this, let them know. beforehand i'd thought about how i'd answer "why do you want this job", and i had a bunch of reasons and emotions, but no fully formed speech. so it came out fresh, a bit jumbled, perhaps, but with enthusiasm. i was convinced i could do a really good job - i just let them see that.

(so, anyone want to hire a programmer / technical consultant / numerical expert / software architect in chile? ;o)
posted by andrew cooke at 9:43 AM on June 21, 2005

My father once commented to me late in his career that he thought he'd have progressed father up the executive ladder if he was a bigger sports fan. I think he had a good point. People hire people they like and they like them based on (perceived) shared interest a lot of the time.

So if you're not a sports fan, sit down and scan the sports page the morning of the interview.
posted by phearlez at 10:48 AM on June 21, 2005

I think that making the enthusiasm thing apparent is extremely good advice as above. The last job I interviewed for, and got, was one I really wanted. I made it very clear to them how much I admired their product and their general approach to writing software. They basically made sure I was technically competent and then gave me the job.
posted by cameldrv at 11:19 AM on June 21, 2005

Speak in a way that makes clear the benefits of hiring you. When I interview people, at least half the candidates are all "I did this" and "I did that" - speaking only of the past. It's just as important to give them a sense of the future: "If hired to work for your company, I will bring the following to the table: [make your life easier/play well with others/cut development time in half/etc]."

In other words, sell the benefits, not the features. The features [your skills, background, experience] are important, but the benefits [what hiring you will do for them and/or the company] are what will make you stand out against yor competition.
posted by hsoltz at 11:30 AM on June 21, 2005

phearlez, that's a great observation. I guess it depends somewhat on what field you're in, but in the corporate world I always figured I'd more successful if I liked sports, drank coffee, and smoked cigarettes. Thank goodness I'm not in the corporate world.

My only suggestion would be to send a thank-you note to everyone you interviewed with. Frequently, I have been interviewed by 2 or more people at the same company. So don't over look anyone. And try to get their business cards so that you have their first and last names with the correct spelling. (If you forget, you can try calling HR later.) Using nice paper or a special card probably helps, too. (Highly debatable, but I think white or off-white resume paper is boring. I like the grey flecked paper or something similar that is muted, yet stands out a bit.)
posted by crapulent at 11:39 AM on June 21, 2005

Interview: Prepare answers for "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" and "What are your weaknesses?"

For the latter, do not respond "I'm a perfectionist."

Applying: Tailor every resume you send out to incorporate the key points of the job posting and reflect the research you've done on the company (you have done your research, right?)
posted by CaptApollo at 2:17 PM on June 21, 2005

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