A young, beautiful, talented and experienced woman failed yet another interview in her second year of job hunting. She did not know how to do better because she didn't have a clue about why it was happening to her in the first place, time after time. What went wrong? Were there no real jobs, or were her stars crossed? When you, like her, do not land the job after the extraordinary effort it takes to set up a face-to-face meeting, it's time to look within yourself to see what mistakes you are making unconsciously during those precious make-it-or die minutes with someone who can actually offer you a job.
The most common mistake is concentrating on your own past, especially how difficult the job-hunting process has been. Even though you have so much to complain about, this is not to time for any words of blame or depression to be uttered. Even if your boss was a monster or the deck was stacked against you, say nothing negative. While you might arouse sympathy, you won't be hired. The interview is about how you can fulfill the needs of the employer and how you might fit in to their culture. Period.
Prepare by learning as much as you can about the job you are applying for and translating your experience to that job. You can't expect your interviewer to do that for you. It's up to you to make meaning from your resume, which you must have tweaked just for this position. If you have a website, it must have a prominent place to show that you are in sync with the position you are applying for. You have to rehearse the answers to the tough questions: why you left or were laid off, even why you stayed in a low position for many years without trying to move up. You will be asked to describe your relationship with your past supervisors, co-workers and clients. You need to demonstrate your resourcefulness in a tight economy. Even though it may be true, you can't admit that what you are applying for isn't what you're looking for in the future, but that you would be willing to settle for the job temporarily.
Find out beforehand as much as you can about the position: who had it, why it's open now and who else they are considering. Then, be able to have a conversation about their needs. Explain how your skills will apply to that open job using specific stories from your work experience. It helps if you are knowledgeable when it comes to their business and business culture -- ratings, competition, new markets. Look for common bonds -- colleges, sports, interests, family or mutual friends. If you don't know of any beforehand, take a look around their office for clues. Remember that you are courting them, like dating before marriage, so use all your skills to make that match.
Don't leave without making your pitch for the job. Say that you want it and ask for next steps. If they hesitate, ask about their concerns about you so you can address them on the spot. If they want someone with more experience, offer to take extra training. You might ask for an assignment to prove your worth or a six-month trial period as a good will measure, knowing that most jobs have some probationary basis anyway. Do not be afraid to be persistent. After the obligatory thank you note, call or email once or twice a week with a question or some information that you remembered. Whether it's pestering them or not, you want to demonstrate your determination to work there. Don't let the job go to someone else who is willing to do that.
Make your luck happen!
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