After a few years in the professional world, you’ve most likely sat through your fair share of job interviews—but that doesn’t necessarily make them any easier. In fact, as your resume gets longer and more detailed, it can be more difficult than ever to adequately articulate your career narrative within the time constraints of an interview—particularly if your career has spanned multiple industries.
How can you pinpoint your skills and career highlights that matter most, and how can you ensure you’ll be able to share them in the few minutes you have the floor? As with many things in the workplace, preparation is the key to success—and here are some tips for getting started.
Consider the Job Description
Here’s the thing: You may have accomplished some truly impressive feats throughout the course of your career. But if they’re not relevant to the job to which you’re applying, they may not matter much to the person interviewing you. That’s not to say that you should completely gloss over seemingly irrelevant details, because every step led you to where you are today. But when it comes to the professional accomplishments you plan to spend the most time discussing, be sure to have a few in mind that directly link to the job you’re applying for.
Whether you’ve got half a dozen (or more) jobs on your resume, or you’ve worked for one company your entire career, it’s important to make connections between the work you’ve done in the past and what you hope to do in the future. Analyze each job you’ve held and try to find something about it that connects to the job you’re applying to now, such as a skill you learned there or a project you managed. If your interviewer asks you to expand on that position, you’ll be prepared to quickly and easily share how it helped you get to where you are today.
Make a "Must" List
Don’t expect to take control of the interview—that’s the interviewer’s job. (And any potential employee’s attempt to dominate a job interview would likely be seen as a major red flag.) However, it helps to go into your meeting with a list of points that you feel strongly about including. Choose just a handful of career highlights that you definitely want to mention, and it will be easier to work them into the conversation, even if the interviewer doesn’t ask about them specifically. Not sure what to pick? Look for skills, projects, and accomplishments that you are passionate about, that are relevant to the job at hand, and that you feel will help you stand out from other applicants.
Think Beyond the Resume
Remember: The interviewer has already read your resume, and rehashing what they already know is a rookie mistake and a waste of time. Instead, build on what you’ve already shared by offering concrete examples and details that you didn’t have space for on your resume. Chances are, they’re impressed with what’s on the page. Now it’s up to you to support that by saying what’s necessary to win them over completely.
With more than 10 years of experience in the recruitment field, Michelle Kruse knows what works and what doesn't when it comes to resumes. As the Editor and Content Manager at ResumeEdge, she helps job seekers position themselves for success. She regularly shares advice on resume writing and interviewing not only because it's her job, but because it's her passion.
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