When you apply for an open position, you are often one of many qualified applicants. A job interview is critical for advancing through the hiring process, positioning yourself as a strong candidate and accepting a job offer. It is essential to create a strategy that best demonstrates your qualifications and elevates you above your competition. In this article, we explore the ways you can improve your ability to get an interview and secure a job offer.
How to get an interview and secure a job offer
It is essential to start preparing before you apply for an open position. Follow these seven steps to help you impress the hiring team and get the job you want:
- Make connections in your industry.
- Create a customized resume.
- Write an effective cover letter.
- Follow up with the hiring manager.
- Know your selling points.
- Practice common interview questions.
- Thank the hiring manager.
1. Make connections in your industry
You may find interesting job listings on public career boards or industry websites, but popular listings can lead to increased competition. Instead, consider making connections in your industry to increase the chance of learning about less publicized openings or hearing about listings before other qualified candidates do.
To network effectively, find online communities and local groups that focus on your industry. Identify people you want to meet, such as employees of companies where you want to work. Then consider ways you can offer value to your connections, such as providing a new perspective on an industry trend.
2. Create a customized resume
When you apply for a job, take some time to customize your resume for the position. Submitting a resume that responds to the listing’s requirements allows the hiring team to identify your qualifications and assess how well they meet the organization’s needs. When you make it easier for the hiring team to select you as a top candidate, you have a better chance of getting an interview.
To create a customized resume, think about including only the experience, education and accomplishments that relate directly to the job listing. For example, when applying for a retail position, you might mention previous retail, sales and customer service jobs along with the sales goals you met. You can also pull keywords from the listing, such as specific ways to phrase a skill or experience, to better align your qualifications with their expectations.
3. Write an effective cover letter
Since your cover letter serves as your first chance to make a good impression on the hiring team, customize this introductory note for the job listing. Consider mentioning specific aspects of the company that appeal to you, qualifications that make you an ideal candidate for the job and contributions you would make if you took the role. Be sure to provide more details about your experience that might not be explained in your resume.
At the end of the cover letter, prompt the hiring manager to take the next step in the application process. For example, you can encourage the hiring manager to schedule an interview with you to discuss the job opening further.
4. Follow up with the hiring manager
After submitting your application, follow up with the hiring manager if two weeks have passed without a response. Connecting with the hiring manager after applying gives you another chance to establish yourself as a top candidate.
Try emailing or calling the hiring manager to confirm receipt of your resume and express your continued interest in the position. Consider encouraging the hiring manager to contact you for an interview or other next steps, and provide your email address or phone number.
5. Know your selling points
Once you advance to the next stage of the hiring process, start preparing for the interview. Identify your three main selling points or the primary reasons you are the right candidate for the job. Think about the most effective ways to introduce these during your interview, including anecdotes and data points.
If you are applying for a management position that requires leadership skills, think about examples, objectives or awards that demonstrate your leadership. For example, you may have received a leadership award from your current company or achieved a goal that proves your teambuilding capabilities.
6. Practice common interview questions
Before the interview, read through common questions and prepare answers. Even if your interview does not include all of the most frequently asked questions, considering your answers gives you a chance to review your experience, qualifications and goals. Taking this step also allows you to identify specific examples so that you can mention them readily during the interview.
For example, you can consider your answers to personal questions like “How would you describe yourself?” and “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” You can also think about job-specific questions like “Why do you want to work here?” and “Why should we hire you?”
You may also consider researching what questions are common for the specific role or company you’re interviewing with. These questions can help you anticipate what this company expects or what prospective employers need to know about candidates for specific positions. Practice your answers to these questions to ensure you are prepared for a variety of general, company- and role-specific questions. This preparation can lead to a stronger connection with your interviewer.
7. Thank the hiring manager
After your interview, remember to thank the hiring manager and express your appreciation for their time and consideration. When you take this key step, you get a final chance to position yourself as a top candidate for the role and encourage the hiring manager to offer you the job.
To follow up after an interview, email a thank-you note within 24 hours. Thank your interviewer, restate your experience and goals, and mention an accomplishment that makes you uniquely qualified for the role. You can also include a detail discussed in your interview to demonstrate that you were invested in the conversation and valued their perspective. End by conveying your interest in moving forward with the hiring process to increase your likelihood of getting the job.