The interview is an interactive event. You will need to demonstrate why you are worthy of consideration and to the extent that you will be selected over other applicants. But it is not only about you and your qualifications. The process will also help you to determine if it is a job you want and, ideally, both sides will conclude if there is mutual and shared interest that can result in a job offer. But to get your foot in the door you must first have a good resume, which will entice and attract them into considering you. But to be sure, it requires more than simply a good resume to get a job.
Many people place far too much reliance upon their resume, as though it is the primary component of the process. They agonize over having it just right because, after all, it has become increasingly difficult to pursue a job by any method other than the faceless digital barriers and gateways erected by human resources and management. Never mind that these methods diminish the chance of finding true standouts among potential employees, because everyone has been relegated to the same mediocre one-size-fits-all methods of applying for jobs; many of the most desirable people will not submit themselves to routines that do not differentiate between fresh graduates and senior or top performing professionals. But that’s a whole other topic.
Let’s assume you have a terrific resume that is indeed a show stopper. Perhaps an HR representative will see it, acknowledge its suitability and will forward it to a hiring manager, who, in-turn might be rather impressed and calls human resources to say, “Arrange a meeting, I want to interview that person ASAP!”
Now fast forward to the first interview; after a welcoming handshake and brief introduction, you find yourself seated opposite the person who could be your potential new boss at a new job -- great! And so, they begin the conversation by asking a predictable question, what do you know about the company and you’re ready, because you did some preliminary research before your meeting, good for you. They seem pleased thus far that you’ve done your homework beforehand, and then they ask you another predictable question, “So tell me about yourself”.
(Insert the sound of screeching tires coming to a sudden stop!)
Take notice: it is at this point in time, this moment when your resume has reached the end of its usefulness for anything but their file or database, or perhaps to show the next manager with whom you might meet, that is, if you do well during this step. That’s it, you’re done with your resume; all that work and yet, it only gets you this far? In reality, that is all it was meant to do. It is at this point when asked, “So tell me about yourself”, that many people blow it and falter; from this moment forward the focus is now on you. It’s your move, are you ready and if so, what are you going to say?
Do you know what most people do when they are asked by the interviewer, “…tell me about yourself”? They just recite and repeat what is already on the piece of paper that got them there and they haven’t thought much beyond this stage – the first meeting, if there will be additional meetings. No matter how good a resume, it’s just a piece of paper and by itself does not, will not and cannot get you the job. When I think of someone simply parroting what the interviewer already has in black and white before them, I just shake my head, recognizing they’ve just lost whatever momentum they had going into the meeting.
Your resume is a reference and a fact sheet, that’s all. It got you in the door but after that, you must be prepared to elaborate and take the interview to the next level by using your soft skills to engage and relate with the interviewer, demonstrating your suitability for the job – doing that which your resume simply cannot do for you.
To be adequately prepared for an interview it is quite simple really. Be ready to expound your experience, going beyond the bare bones basics listed on your resume. Whenever possible, relate to your experience anecdotally. If you are especially proud of your accomplishments, share them with the interviewer. The interview is the event that allows you to bring to life the claims on your resume. Putting all your efforts into a piece of paper, but failing to also prepare yourself for the inevitable human interaction, means you were not ready for your moment. You’ll miss the opportunity.