July 23, 2024
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July 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The key to any successful baseball player is that he prepares himself, both mentally and physically, way before he steps in the batter’s box. An interview for a job is no different.

As director of employment at Project Ezrah, I find that oftentimes our group is called upon to guide members of our community, who are looking for a new or better job, through the interview process. We look forward to sharing our combined experience of over 35 years in the field of recruiting and HR to provide valuable insight and strategy to our candidates. Below are a few nuggets of information that have proven to help applicants on interviews and hopefully be helpful for you or anyone you know going through the same.

I look upon my 18 years as an executive recruiter and remember a few select candidates who were truly top notch and who I helped coach to succeed in the interview with companies like Sanofi, Hertz, Random House, Morgan Stanley, The Capital Markets Company, and fashion companies like Louis Vuitton and Dior—each company having a very competitive interview process to navigate.

I would speak with the most polished of professionals prior to an interview to answer questions and to guide them on the key aspects to succeeding on an interview. I learned a key factor—that even the candidates with great presentation and communication skills took the interview prep very seriously and invested the time to prepare. Their success in the interview was driven by this fact.

The job search process begins with you sending out your resume numerous times to friends and LinkedIn connections, and direct to companies and recruiters. The waiting is grueling! Use this time to prepare—don’t wait for that email or call to invite you in.

The time to prepare for an interview starts the moment you begin your job search. Most people begin preparing too late—they start when the interview is scheduled. The steps you take to prepare are critical to your success. Do not believe that a summation of your life’s work will suffice in the interview. Here are a few brief suggestions that are only part of a lengthy process in preparing for the meeting.

Review your resume: At the interview, your resume is the most important document you bring with you. It is necessary to know it well—every bullet and all of the dates associated with your career. This will help you field questions but will also indicate to the interviewer that you are detail-oriented and are prepared for the meeting. When asked about content or dates on your resume, it is never good to answer question with words like “I think,” “sort of,” “that was a while ago.”

Role Play: Now that you know your resume extremely well, it is imperative to ask yourself questions that you believe an interviewer will ask, and then answer them—not in your mind but out loud. Listen to your presentation. Hear your answers and make sure they are engaging, complete and concise. An interview is like a Broadway play—we know all of the lines (at least 95 percent) of them. We know what we will be asked and what our answers will be.

Sample questions to consider: Why are you interested in this job? Company? Why have you made previous job changes? Be prepared for these types of questions plus all of the technical type of questions relating to your specific industry. If you are not sure of what other questions to consider, google “interview questions”—you’re bound to find a few more!

Keep in mind that in an interview, they are looking to have an active and engaging conversation. If you are engaged, friendly or warm, those around will respond in the same way.

Market Intelligence: One needs to review the prospective company’s website: Learn their mission statement. Who do they serve, who are their competitors? How do they differentiate from their competitors? Read the job description of your target position and also other job postings on their website. What do they highlight as key characteristics for success and other commonalities to the postings? Review the job description and your resume (again) and make real correlations to your skills and their needs. Highlight and underline parts of the job description that you believe are critical to the job. Keep in mind, during the interview you should also ask what are the key areas of success they would like to see from the candidate in this role. Find out what problem the company has and how you can solve it as it relates to the position; practice asking yourself relevant questions. If the description talks about advanced Excel or Word skills, don’t be surprised if a question comes up on the topic. With good preparation, this will not be the first time you have answered this question.

Salary: Most people don’t like when the interviewer starts discussing salary. However, it is a question you should be prepared for. When first asked, it is best to answer that although salary is important, you are basing your decision on other factors as well. You are looking to leverage your knowledge and skills in an environment where you can become an integral part of the organization, add value and continue to develop. Of course you should expect a follow-up question—“What does that mean in dollars?” Clearly they are looking for a number. Best thing to do is to reiterate that you are looking for the right opportunity and that if you had to give them some guidance, you have been interviewing for a position at $x or better. Never give a range with a cap. This way, you are handling the question in a way that will keep the conversation going on and get back to the matter at hand—which is how you can fulfill their needs.

Thank you: When finishing the interview, take steps to finish it as a regular business meeting. Thank them for their time in meeting with you, let them know you are interested. Ask them if there is anything else you can share with them about you or speak to any concerns they still may have. A follow-up thank you note should also be sent out that evening or the next day. The expediency in which a company is looking to make a decision could be a determining factor as to whether to send a note via email or regular mail.

Project EZRAH is continually working with highly skilled members of our community who are looking for better opportunities. We assist receptionists, VP’s of finance, bookkeepers, accountants, executive directors, doctors, lawyers and entry-level college graduates. They turn to us for guidance in these areas and we are happy to help in their job search.

Please join Project Ezrah on June 14 at 7 p.m. at Rinat for our next executive seminar—details to follow. Please join our LinkedIn group to stay aware of seminars, training workshops and networking: www.linkedin.com/groups/1714047

For employers: Please keep in mind there is no fee for us to help you identify great talent for your company. Our only request is that you pass along our information to other companies that might be able to benefit from our help.

By Jeff Mendelson


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