Job Interview 101: How to Rise Above in a Competitive Job Market

competitive job marketWe seem to be stuck in an extremely competitive job market. In this environment, employers are often overwhelmed with job applications.

As a result, the hiring process can take more than several months to complete. That means it might be a while before an interview is scheduled.

How do best take advantage of this suspenseful limbo period? You learn how to rise above the competition in your job interviews.

Whether you’ve landed your dream interview or you’re preparing for it, here are some tips for setting yourself apart…

Do Your Research

Yes, “do your research” has become a cliche. But to make a lasting impression in a competitive job market, you must thoroughly research the company beforehand. Find out as much as possible about the company. Read reviews and articles. Learn about the company’s employees and your interviewer(s). Just as vital, know the company’s history and purpose.

Cliche or not, this research will show the interviewer that you care about the company and the position.

As you read up on the company and its people, start thinking about potential questions to ask at the interview. The research can help you ask better questions. Not typical, yawn-inducing ones. But those that get you brownie points for obviously doing your homework.

The time you invested in brushing up on the company will also be put to use in improving your responses. It will boost your confidence. And you’ll be able to cite specific examples to illustrate your points. In other words, you’ll be ready to impress.

Know the Position

To rise above, know the job you’ve applied for inside and out. Review the job description’s language and how the company talks about the position on its website. Talk about how your resume complements the job description. Need help with this? Use Jobscan to help you identify the specific language of the position. Then learn how that language compares to what’s on your resume. The majority of large companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to search for qualified candidates means using resume keywords. So it’s important that your resume makes it through the ATS. Otherwise, it may not make it to a human being. You know, the one who can potentially contact you to schedule an interview.

During the interview, ask about what your daily tasks might include and highlight what interests you about the position. Show the interviewer you can confidently perform the job requirements by providing measurable examples from previous work experiences. These examples should prove your accomplishments through concrete numbers and percentages.

During the Interview

Try to go to your zen place for the interview; in a competitive job market, it’s important to stay calm. Be friendly with the interviewer but professional. A lot of people get nervous for interviews, and that’s totally okay. Channel your inner [insert your favorite actor here] persona and just don’t let it show. Obvious signs of nervousness can make the interview awkward and uncomfortable for both parties. Plus they can distract from your awesome responses. So avoid twitching and fiddling with items, excessive hand movements, and avoiding eye contact.

Listen to the interviewer, don’t interrupt him or her, and take the time to think of appropriate responses before speaking. Don’t be too modest: this is the time to really sell yourself. Confidence in your ability to perform the desired job duties well will make you a memorable job candidate. And always remember that the basics go a long way in making you shine. Not simply as a person. But also as a potential addition to the team. So extend afirm handshake (no wet spaghetti handshakes, please). And use genuine smiles and just the right amount of eye contact.

Follow Up After the Interview

Before you leave, ask about what will happen next. There may be further interview requirements or post-interview assignments to complete. Be sure to thank the interviewer and say that you’re looking forward to hearing from him or her. Follow up with a sincere thank you email at least two hours after leaving the interview. Show that you were awake during the interview! How? By including in the email a comment about something you found to be interesting during the interview. Or mention something surprising you learned during the meeting. Also, mention specifics about the position and company that encourage you to pursue next steps.

If you haven’t heard back from them within a week (unless specifically told otherwise)? Send a follow-up email asking about post-interview steps. Ask if you can provide them with any additional information.

Don’t hear back right away? Don’t become discouraged.

Remember, it’s a competitive job market. The interview process can take months. Your follow-up should strike the right balance: show interest without overdoing it. Make sure that you don’t come across as way too eager or desperate. Basically, thank the interviewer and follow up, but don’t become a stalker.

Follow these steps… and you’ll ultimately rise above the rest in this competitive job market.


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Jobscan.




???????????????????????????????About the Author: James Hu earned his bachelor’s of Information Systems and Finance from University of Washington. He is currently the Founder and CEO of Jobscan. James has also enjoyed work experiences at Boeing, Microsoft, Groupon, Kabam Games, and a start-up of his own. Through his work in the United States, China, and Spain/Gibraltar, James truly integrates a global mindset into his career. In his free time, he also enjoys water sports and backpacking. Follow James on Twitter.



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