The Highest Hurdle:
Landing That Interview
Landing the interview can be the biggest hurdle of the entire job search process; often times I have seen or experienced that once you have landed the interview you have landed the job, but many applicants don’t reach the interview! This blog is about providing helpful tips and sound advice to help you through the entire application process and hopefully land you that interview.
Step one of landing that interview begins at retrieving the application, and continues through filling out the application, to submitting it, and finishing up with the follow up(s).
STEP 1: RETRIEVING THE APPLICATION
Look sharp: Your job application process begins the moment you speak and/or enter the building – everyone’s eyes matter because their mouths will repeat what they see. Your attire represents your dedication to detail, style, and professionalism.
Sound professional: Your speech will reveal your courtesy, sincerity and respect.
Walk and talk with confidence: When you show confidence in yourself, your potential employer will have more confidence in you as well. No one will hire someone who doubts their own capabilities.
Don’t rush the application: There are many different types of applications, online, paper, and oral, for example. For online applications, I suggest starting at step 2.
For an oral interview, you may not have the option of ‘taking it home’ so you may have to do it impromptu. To prepare for this, you should do as much research concerning the business/establishment/entity and position that you are applying to so that you can answer to the best of your capabilities and avoid getting caught off guard.
Often times you will be given a paper application and the option to “fill it out in the lobby,” or something of that nature. Don’t do it. Be courteous in your response, but insist on taking it home to give it the appropriate time and effort. Then, take it home and doll it up – which leads us to our next topic…
STEP 2: FILLING OUT THE APPLICATION
Stand out: Many applications are boring, tedious, and simply hard to look at after you’ve already read a good stack of them. You want to make your application stand out from the rest of the stack as much as possible – and there are a million and one ways to do this!
For starters, put it in a solid, protective covering. This will protect your application from being ruined in light of an accident (say spilled coffee for example). Once your app is unreadable, odds are they aren’t going to go through the time to call and ask for another one – in other words you’re sorry out of luck! This protective covering will also give your application some weight and substance – easily recognizable in a stack of paper – and make it look nice.
the extra mile, retype the application on a word processor, such as Microsoft Word, and print it onto nicer paper (just don’t spray it with cologne or perfume like they show in the movies…believe me, it sends the wrong message!).
Add a cover letter: I am a hostess and I receive a lot of applications to the restaurant that I work at and absolutely no one I have come across has bothered to include a cover letter! Honestly, it is one of the best things you can do for your application process. It personalizes your application to the hiring manager, the job position, and the business itself. Plus it makes you look good.. For more information on how to create the perfect cover letter, you can peruse my other blog titled “Picture Perfect: A Cover Letter That Portrays You.”
Include your resume: This is the pièce de résistance! If you don’t have a resume I suggest you make one. There are multitudes of websites that can help you create your own for free. If you don’t feel like you have enough experience to include inside a resume, then don’t worry about it. Focus on your cover letter instead.
STEP 3: TURNING IN THE APPLICATION
Know when to turn it in: Depending on the industry, there are certain peak hours of business during which it is incredibly inconvenient to take applications – and you don’t want your application to be an inconvenience.
For example, in the restaurant industry it is sometimes encouraged to come in during the hours of 2 and 4 when lunch has died and dinner is about to begin. So instead of just waltzing in only when it is convenient for you, do some research and look up what times are slower during the work day. This way your application is welcome, and even a pleasure to take, rather than a nuisance.
Look sharp, sound professional, and be confident: When you come in to deliver your finalized application you should look just as sharp, speak just as professionally, and be just as confident as you were when you first came in to pick up the application, if not better. This moment is even more important because often times you will be speaking to the person you’ve contoured your entire application to and you may even land an interview on the spot.
STEP 4: THE FOLLOW UP
Call back: During the hours of convenience that you’ve researched, go ahead and call them to see how your application process is going. Don’t say that of course, but rather say something along the lines of “Hello, this is [sub your name here]. I submitted my application on [sub date of submission] and am looking to speak with [sub hiring manager’s name, if known]. Is this a convenient time for him/her or should I call back?”This is a good way to instigate a small phone interview.
If you’ve connected with the hiring manager, repeat who you are and say “Hello, I’m [sub your name here]. I submitted my application on [sub date of submission] and am wondering if there is a convenient time for us to meet and look it over?”
Naturally, the phone calls may go a little differently; just use proper etiquette, courtesy, be polite and professional and use some insight as to what you should say.
If you haven’t already landed an interview by now, you can continue calling back or sit tight and wait for that special phone call with the good news. In the meantime, continue completing applications to other locations.
I sincerely hope that this blog has proven beneficial, helpful, and hopeful to you as you go through the application process and that you can overcome the highest hurdle: landing that interview! Best of luck to you in all of your endeavors, and have a happy holiday.
Beth DeVoll is an Integrative Biology major at the University of Southern Florida.