A lot has changed in the past couple of years. The work paradigm has changed to in-person, remote and hybrid environments. Skills sets have deepened and evolved. The workday seems to have grown longer. The job market has improved, yet the future is uncertain with cost-of-living outpacing wage growth. Talent is as at a premium and the job market has a range of opportunities.
Standing out in this job market is key. A resume is the only the first step. It is designed to get your phone to ring. What happens after the phone rings is the next step. You need to be prepared.
The phone interview is to ensure your skills and experience match the position. It’s also an opportunity for you to cultivate a relationship, ask a few questions about the position, learn about their work culture and demonstrate personal qualities. Be prepared to speak about your skills, your achievements, your career path and any relevant or value-added licensures and certifications. You need to rehearse this. The more you rehearse, the more refined and distilled your answers will become.
If the phone rings and you’re not ready to shift into a job interview, don’t answer it. And especially not if you’re driving with the dogs and/or kids in the back! Return the call in a few minutes once you’ve had a chance to fetch your resume and change gears.
The second interview can be a bit more trying. It can be in-person or virtual. It may also include a panel. It’s a repeat of the first interview where your resume will act as a road map for your conversation. You must be able to speak in detail about your resume, your key contributions and the reason you left. But it may also include some dreaded gotcha questions.
Gotcha questions look tough, but with some understanding and preparation they are an opportunity to demonstrate an assessment of yourself and your goals. Questions about your personality, (what makes you tick), what drives you, what would your colleagues or supervisor say about you, employment gaps, hypotheticals (they’re usually a trap!), and experiences that have changed you including failures are but a few. BTW, if the question feels like a trap, a simple “I haven’t thought about that, and I would prefer to some time to consider” works just fine.
Confidence is very appealing in an applicant. Preparation breeds confidence. Be prepared for your interviews. Each of them. Practice talking about yourself. Script answers. Speak with intent, brevity and clarity. Also be interesting and interested. Ask questions to the interviewer. Change the interview into a conversation with two equals. Start practicing and good luck!