by Alberto Aleo
In my previous life, as an employee in a company, I carried out many interviews. When it comes to job interviews experience has taught me that three things are essential:
- obtaining the interview;
- giving a good impression;
- don’t just be assessed, but make your own assessment.
Finding a job is a job in itself, and it’s a job that involves selling just as much as finding prospects and making the first contact with customers.
If you are looking for work I recommend you first generate a list of companies with whom you would like to get in touch, then profile them to collect data that will allow you to assess how attractive they are and to what extent they comply with your profile. Then decide on a strategy of approach and consider your network of contacts to see if there is anyone who can provide you with the right references or indicate the best person to contact.
In my view, the best way to introduce yourself to a company is to make the contacts personally and sell yourself.
I advise you to use an email in the same way as you would with a customer that you had never met: try to engage your reader’s interest so that you can set up an appointment, but do not rely on this “cold” means of communication to present yourself!
The telephone will be used in the same way. I know just how difficult it can be to get through the various filters and set up a preliminary interview, but just try to arrange a face-to-face meeting: nobody is going to take you on, or even seriously consider you as a candidate, without first meeting you.
When you meet the company’s representative you must try to understand if this is the person who will decide whether or not to hire you; if this is not the person who will make the decision your next objective will be to ensure you meet the boss. At this stage you don’t need to convince your interlocutor to offer you the job (it’s beyond their control), but only to find a useful ally in advancing your candidacy with higher management so you can get a further interview.
When you finally meet the boss you must be prepared to show that you have done your “homework”, i.e. that you have found out what there is to know about the company. Do not sketch a generalized outline of your skills but tell the interviewer how you could be an asset to the company thanks to your abilities and experience. Make it clear that you have chosen this particular organization for a reason, and that you are not ready to settle for just any job or desperate for employment. Ask many questions and encourage the interviewer to offer information about the company and their own role within it. Try to understand why the interviewer is looking to hire someone for this position. Take control of the situation by saying, “I’ll call you within a week to find out how my candidacy is proceeding”, though you must say this with politeness and tact.
But perhaps most important thing to remember is that you are there not just to be assessed, but also to make your own assessment.
If you get the job, you’ll be spending many hours of your life doing this work, next to those people and in those offices. Whenever possible, I always tried to consider things from this point of view. And more than once I said, at least to myself
I regret your company did not pass the interview!
It may sound like a joke, especially these days, but that’s the way it is. The recession that has hit the labor market may make every opportunity seem like a “good opportunity”, but if you want to avoid disappointment and repeated job changes that will turn you curriculum into a mosaic of short-term employments that will not go unmissed by recruiters, I suggest you consider this aspect carefully.
I said “no” to an entrepreneur who received me in a container and said that this would be my office but “only temporarily”; likewise, I turned down an offer from the general manager who had coffee brought in by a secretary who was double his age, but to whom he showed disrespect by using the familiar ‘tu’ form in Italian while insisting she used the more polite ‘lei’ form with him. I also refused a job offer with a company after the human resources manager kept me waiting for over an hour and a half, without even an apology. There were other times when I should have said “no”, but I lacked the foresight and the courage to trust my instincts, and time proved that my first impression was right.
We spend more than 2/3 of the time we are awake at work, and failing to decide actively how we want to spend this time, and with whom, is the worst mistake we can make.
If you are unsure about what to do but you do need to work, accept a temporary job or a short-term project: you will gain experience, have time to sort out your ideas and you will be free to change. And rest assured, the only real certainty in this changing world is to be sure of your professional worth and love your job so you do it to the best of your ability: all the rest is just waffle from the mouths of politicians.
To give voice to our own values means to move toward success and happiness . If you want to know how to give voice to your values in other job situations we suggest you to give a look at Prof. Mary Gentile , Giving Voice to Value program , to whom our research on Sales Ethics owes much.
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