Q. After an unproductive job search with no interviews, I got a new suit, polished my resume, am trying to network, and even have a LinkedIn profile. I have gone from no interviews to three this month, but no offers. I can do these jobs — my skills are there. What gives?
A. You have discovered that in this market you need to impress at every stage.
I consulted Susan Goodman of Goodman HR Partners, a human resources consulting firm in Bedford. Susan interviews candidates at all levels and finds that otherwise well qualified candidates don’t make it past the first round of interviews because they cannot convey what one chief executive calls “fire in the belly.” They can’t demonstrate sincere enthusiasm for the role, the company, or the product. The best way to demonstrate your passion is to do all your homework prior to the interview.
Candidates most likely to advance are those who are well qualified and well prepared. “A candidate who has thoroughly researched the role, the company, the market, and the leadership team has an automatic leg up,” Goodman says.
Preparation might include tapping your network to speak with employees or customers of the company, looking up people who will interview you on LinkedIn, and reviewing why you are excited about the position and how you can contribute to the company’s goals. In addition, Goodman recommends that candidates review job descriptions and consider the key responsibilities, commute, schedule, and travel requirements.
It’s a turnoff to interviewers when candidates are unaware of something that is in the job description. Prepare thoughtful questions that express your interest in the job, the company, the competition, and the industry. Don’t ask questions that are easily answered by checking the company website. That indicates you don’t care enough to prepare.
The people interviewing you are most likely passionate about their company, and when you demonstrate that same level of passion, your chances of getting an offer increase.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.