By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter
It may seem obvious. You were invited to an interview with the hiring manager or recruiter. They beckoned you because they like your resume and believe you are qualified for the job. At this point, it’s all about the dialogue, and you are a fantastic interviewer, so what else do you need but yourself and your confidence – right?
Wrong. Sometimes less is not more. And, interviews offer an opportunity to strategically slide in a value-add here and there, depending upon the course the conversation takes.
Following are five ideas of value-add items to bring to the interview to help enhance your personal marketing message, compelling your interview forward:
1. Tweaked Resume: Even if you recently updated your resume, assess if a tweaked headline or modified achievement would more perfectly align your message with this specific interview.
Then, print off five to 10 copies of your resume from a quality printer using good, 24 lb. paper. Use a neutral, earthy tone: off-white, tan, light brown, gray or something similar. Show attention to detail, ensuring the watermark prints in an upright position. With a stack of freshly printed resumes in hand, you are equipped to distribute them to additional hiring decision makers who may unexpectedly arrive, empty-handed, at your meeting.
2. Toot-Your-Own-Horn Book: If you are in sales, this is an especially valuable tool. However, brag books needn’t be limited to sales-oriented interviews. Consider what visual representations of your value you could provide. Buy about a dozen 3-hole-punched sheet protectors in which to display your horn-tooting items. Examples include a thank-you note, a printout of a sales graph, an email from a happy client and a project milestone chart showcasing results of a mammoth project. What this book may consist of is only limited by your imagination and creativity. Think colorful and glimpse-able.
3. Testimonials Page. While you may not be ready to hand off contact information of your valuable references during the initial interview, you could create a ‘testimonials’ page with a list of three to five key people (names only, without phone numbers and email addresses), who are wowed by the value you provide.
Diversify the references to include a client, a vendor, a senior executive, a colleague, a direct report and so forth. Then, organize the page to include three columns: 1. Name of person and their company affiliation; 2. Your relationship to that person; e.g., you and s/he collaborated on a specific project; you provided sales consultation to that person; or, you trained them in their new role, for example; and, 3. What they have said in the past about you or would say if approached today about your contribution to individual or team goals in relationship to saving time, trimming costs or adding to profits.
4. ROI Action Plan. Whether it’s your first interview or your third with the company, come prepared to articulate how you will hit the ground running to make an impact when hired – how you will return the company’s investment. You do this by communicating your action plan for solving their problems.
Naysayers will quip, “I have NO idea what the real problems my target company is facing until I am hired.”
The optimist will take initiative.
Vigorously search the Web using Boolean searches to unearth universal industry and sector issues. Determinedly search the Web for target company tidbits. Research using Glassdoor, LinkedIn or Facebook company pages, and scour online business journals, websites and other resources that drill down to potential challenges. Then, when building your strategy, speak to specific action plan steps you are prepared to take to resolve those issues during the first 30, 60, 90 days.
5. Marketing (Business) Card: Offered up as a mini-resume of sorts, your business card should include critical contact information such as your name, email, voicemail and your LinkedIn profile. It also should include your tagline, further underscoring your value, as well as a metric-based achievement result to add concreteness. Remember, there are two sides to a business card – use both.
While it is true that in some interviews you may simply be whisked in and out of a rigidly orchestrated meeting with no opportunity for additional information sharing, that is just one scenario.
In others, the conversation is more flexible and fluid. You must be proactive presenting your value through a variety of visually appealing and content-rich items. By preparing the above five weapons for your career interview arsenal, you will walk into the interview office more confident and empowered.
Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, chief career writer and partner with CareerTrend, and is one of only 28 Master Resume Writers (MRW) globally. An intuitive researcher, she helps professionals unearth compelling career story details to help best present their unique experience, skillset and interests in resumes and other career positioning documents as well as through social media profiles. In addition to being interviewed for television and radio stories, Jacqui has written for the Career Management Alliance Connection monthly newsletter and blog, ExecuNet’s Career Smart Advisor, The Kansas City Star, The Business Journal and The Wall Street Journal. In addition, she and her husband, “Sailor Rob,” host a lively careers-focused blog over at http://careertrend.net/blog. Jacqui also is a power Twitter user listed on several “Best People to Follow” lists for job seekers.