Communicate Your Skills

If you have created a reasonably positive image of yourself so far, an interviewer will now be interested in the specifics of why they should consider hiring you. This back-and-forth conversation usually lasts from 15 to 45 minutes and many consider it to be the most important and most difficult task in the entire job search.

Fortunately, by reading this book, you will have several advantages over the average job seeker:

1. You will know what sort of job you want.

2. You will know what skills are required to do well in that job.

3. You will have those very skills.

The only thing you have to do is to communicate these three things by directly and completely answering the questions an employer asks you. Chapter 2 helps you recognize your skills and communicate them to an interviewer.

Use Control Statements to Your Advantage

A control statement is a statement you make that becomes the roadmap for where the conversation (interview) is going. Although you might think you are at the mercy of the interviewer, you do have some ability to set the direction of the interview from the chitchat to the focus you desire.

For example, you might say something direct, such as "I'd like to tell you about what I've done, what I enjoy doing, and why I think it would be a good match with your organization." Your control statement can come at the beginning of the interview if things seem fuzzy after the chitchat or any time in the interview when you feel the focus is shifting away from the points you want to make.

Here are some other control statements and questions to ask early in an interview:

"How did you get started in this type of career?"

"I'd like to know more about what your organization does. Would you mind telling me?"

"I have a background in___ and am interested in how I might be considered for a position in an organization such as yours."

"I have three years of experience plus two years of training in the field of____. I am actively looking for a job and know that you probably do not have openings now; but I would be interested in future openings. Perhaps if I told you a few things about myself, you could give me some idea of whether you would be interested in me."

Answer Problem Questions Well

All employers try to uncover problems or limitations you might bring to their job. Yet according to employers in Northwestern University's Endicott Report, about 80 percent of all job seekers cannot provide a good answer to one or more problem interview questions. Everyone has a problem of some sort, and the employer will try to find yours. Expect it. Suppose that you have been out of work for three months. That could be seen as a problem, unless you can provide a good reason for it. Chapter 5 gives more guidance on answering problem questions and other key questions you might be asked.

Ask Good Questions

Many employers ask at some point in the interview whether you have any questions. How you respond affects their evaluation of you. So be prepared to ask insightful questions about the organization. Good topics to touch on include the following:

The competitive environment in which the organization operates

Executive management styles

What obstacles the organization anticipates in meeting its goals

How the organization's goals have changed over the past three to five years

Generally, asking about pay, benefits, or other similar topics at this time is unwise. The reason is that doing so tends to make you seem more interested in what the organization can do for you, rather than in what you can do for it. Having no questions at all makes you appear passive or disinterested, rather than curious and interested.

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