Competition for jobs will continue to be stiff in 2012 and employers are keenly aware of this. They will quickly eliminate a candidate if the individual isn’t “R.E.A.D.Y.” when they come in to interview, and being R.E.A.D.Y. for a job interview involves five simple steps:
R: Research the prospective employer.
E: Educate yourself about their meetings and events.
A: Address questions with clear and succinct responses.
D: Draw examples from your past work experience that relates to the job.
Y: Your strengths: Identify why they’re an asset to your prospective employer.
Research the prospective employer
A San Francisco Bay Area television station recently did a segment about a group of human resources managers from large technology companies who offered job-seekers tips on improving their interviewing skills, and one of the hiring managers said that job-seekers must learn everything they can about a company or organization before they go in for an interview.
Candidates who can’t answer the question, “What do you know about our company/organization?” find themselves quickly eliminated.
The easiest way to become educated about a prospective employer is to visit their website and read the About Us section. This is where you’ll find information about the history of the company or organization, a description of the products or services they offer, and a list of the executive management team. In some cases, you’ll also find information about their approach to corporate responsibility, sustainable operations, diversity programs and community involvement.
Educate yourself about the type of meetings and events the department manages
A prospective employer’s website can also provide you with some insight into the types of meetings and events you might be involved with managing. An Events tab is usually located in the About Us section under a tab titled Investor Relations. Here you’ll find lists of the trainings, conferences and other events they offer, as well as trade shows where they exhibit. By comparing these to the skills and experience listed in the job description, you’ll gain a better understanding of the types of meetings and events you’re likely to be involved with managing.
Address questions with clear and succinct responses
The saying “do less with more” should be a mantra for all job-seekers when it comes to responding to interview questions. People frequently ramble on when they’re nervous or unprepared, so make sure to practice your responses to interview questions. Quintessential Careers (www.quintcareers.com/intvres.html) offers lists of questions that hiring managers traditionally ask during interviews as well as a sample of behavioral questions job-seekers may face. By practicing your responses in advance, you’ll come across as prepared and confident.
Draw examples from your past work experience
While your resume gets you in the door for an interview, it’s up to you to move yourself further along in the interview process. The way to do that is by providing more in-depth information about your background and experience and offering specific examples how that relates to the knowledge, skills and abilities the position requires. As you’re practicing your responses to interview questions, think about ways you can draw a connection to your past work experience. Offer examples that show how you achieved success handling a particular task.
Another way to provide tangible examples of your experience is to bring a portfolio that contains samples of forms you’ve created, collateral you helped design and photographs of events you’ve managed. These pieces help provide a tangible example of your related capabilities.
Your strengths: identify why your strengths are an asset to a company or organization
One of the most frequently asked questions during an interview is for a candidate to identify their strengths. Instead of just listing qualities such as being highly organized or detail-oriented, point out how these strengths will benefit the meetings department, as well as generally be an asset to the company or organization where you’re applying.
This goes back to the “R” in being R.E.A.D.Y. As you research a prospective employer, think about what you bring to the table that will help this organization achieve their strategic goals and vision. While another candidate may have similar skills, your ability to translate them into value propositions that benefit the organization will push you to the top of the candidate list.
Getting R.E.A.D.Y. for your next interview will allow you to walk in to any interview with an increased level of confidence about your capabilities and experience.
Sheryl Sookman, CMP, is principal of The MeetingConnection, a company that offers placement services, career coaching and resume design services to individuals in the meetings industry. Sheryl presents workshops, keynote speeches and webinars on career- and employment-related issues. Her book on career strategies and resume design, Who’s In Charge of Your Career? Creating a Strategy for Success, is available on www.amazon.com. You can reach Sheryl at 415.892.1394 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The MeetingConnection’s website is located at www.themeetingconnection.com.