A guest post by Susana Kuehne
The year is ripe with opportunity, as college kids prepare for interviews in hope of finding their first real job after graduation or as adults in their current jobs explore what else might be out there. However, the competition is also steep, so you have to zone into what managers want and highlight it in your resume, cover letters, and interviews. After digging into the pool of information gathered from my experiences and the experiences of those in my broad network of friends and professionals, I gained helpful insight on how others can increase their chances of landing or acing an interview with companies such as Google, Roto-Rooter, Target, Re/Max Real Estate, Lockheed Martin, Morgan & Morgan, and more.
Overall, it seems these were the top things (in no particular order) that managers said should be displayed in some way or form when they interview potential employees.
How much do you want this job in particular? An interviewer can tell when someone has not done research on the company and is only interviewing because they care about the money. Companies do not want to be just the people that sign your check and provide your income; they want to know that you are equally invested in them and are driven to deliver quality work and time to the position. Showing not only why you want to be there but also what you can and intend to offer the company will go a long way if you do it smartly.
No manager wants the employee that is going to blame the other guy each time something goes wrong. If you make a mistake, own it and be valiant in your efforts to show that you are not going to repeat it again. Go a step further and try to handle it yourself, if you can, so your supervisor doesn’t have to get involved. A manager that has to act like a parent will quickly grow frustrated with you, so they will weed out candidates that seem like they only want credit when they do something good but no fault when something goes off-track.
It is no surprise that companies have a goal to make money. Their profits are crucial, and everyone from the bottom up makes a difference in some way. Managers want people that have goals for themselves, because those are the types of employees that are willing to go the extra mile. If an employee is okay just doing the bare minimum and never pushes themselves to go beyond what is expected, then the company as a whole suffers, because each year, it’s likely that what you did the year before is not going to be sufficient to increase revenue. This logic doesn’t just apply to salary jobs; even hourly positions demand hard work and recognize individuals that stand out.
Can you learn skills that are perhaps specific to this position but not far from your expertise? For instance, if you want to move into sales but your previous jobs have all been in customer service, a leader may need to teach you how to pitch to customers, but since you already have a good foundation of how to interact with people, you are likely to do just fine. However, if you take a long time to learn or are difficult to teach, the company might prefer to look at a candidate who already has sales experience. Make sure to sell yourself as a quick and efficient learner if you are making transitions like this so the manager knows you are being mindful of the company’s time and resources.
Are you a good fit for the company? If a boss has to babysit you, because you don’t know how to reach out to coworkers with questions or you’re too shy or arrogant to make yourself valuable in a team effort, then you are hurting the company’s productivity and wasting your supervisor’s time and money. If your job calls for more independence, on the other hand, then knowing how to stay busy without checking in with your boss every day is going to be key. Basically, be aware of the company culture and show that you are a good match– if you are. Some interviewers might ask you to describe a time you had to handle a coworker that you didn’t get along with, in order to gage your personality and problem solving skills, so be prepared. And don’t forget to smile! Even the smartest people can make weak candidates if they can only be successful holed up in a corner, rather than engaging clients or being active in group meetings.
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