Step 5: Job Application, Job Interview & Follow-Up

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An important element in the job search process is meeting and exceeding recruiters’ high candidate expectations. To remain a competitive applicant, check out some of our tips on how to apply for jobs, how to prepare and practice for interviews, and how to follow up with employers.

You’ll find the listed topics in the Job Application, Job Interview, & Follow-Up Guide (if you’re on your mobile device, you may need to scroll up or down to see the list). Click any of the links to jump directly to that topic, or scroll to explore the whole guide.


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Understanding the job search process

The job search process can be very stressful or frustrating because there are many different aspects to it Although the job process can be very overwhelming, there are some key stages:

  1. Self-assessment, career exploration, and career preparation

  2. Creating and updating job search tools

  3. Networking, Interviewing, and Offer

Even after many years of working, the job search is never easy. It is one that requires a lot of time, patience, preparation, and brain power. If you follow these steps, the process can be significantly more manageable and you could have a lot more success in getting an offer you want.

For more information about the job search process and career exploration, click here.

What to do when applying for a job

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With any application for a potential employer, it should be your best. Regardless of whether or not the job is your first choice, putting forth maximum effort when applying will help you build your skills. When applying for a job, be sure that:

  • You have an updated resume and cover letter.

  • You’ve asked your references if they can be used.

  • You’ve done your research about the position and company.

  • You’ve cleaned up your social media.

You may have your standard resume, however your resume should be altered and edited to fit each job you apply for. Your resume should include words from the job description for the job you’re applying to. If your resume goes through a scanning system, the computer will pick up on the words you used from the job description in your resume and will better your chances to get the phone screening. On the following page, we will go more in depth about the four bullets above and the Do’s and Don’ts of applying.

You want to stand out.

Click here to learn more about our tools workbook.

 

Do your homework!

Helpful sources when applying for jobs

 

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Be prepared!

It is important to ask your references ahead of time if they can be used because you should NOT assume they will say yes. Also, asking them allows them to prepare for questions the potential employer may ask. Not only should you ask your reference to be used, you should also research the company IN-DEPTH.

Researching is important because it shows that you are prepared and interested. If you do not come prepared it doesn’t make you look like a good candidate for the position. If you do your research, you will not be thrown off if you are asked “so what do you know about our company?” The more prepared you are, the better!

In addition to researching prior, you should also make it a goal to clean up your social media. This step may not seem important, but employers research candidates before interviewing! Employers seek trustworthy, reliable employees who can represent the company well, so be sure YOU are that person!

More information for maintaining and creating your social media can be found here and for our tools workbook.

Preparing for the interview

 
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Before coming to the interview, you should have practiced answers and have a general idea as to how to answer the basic questions. Later in this section there will be more details about questions asked and how to answer them.

You should plan to arrive at least 10 – 15 minutes prior to the scheduled interview time. If something happens last minute, this will give you wiggle room to still be on time for the interview. As mentioned above, you should come to the interview prepared, with questions, a notebook, a business card, copy of resume and all research done. If you DO NOT have a business card, check out this website. It is important to have your cell phone turned off, silenced or out of sight so it does not interrupt the process. When going in to meet the interviewer, be sure to smile, give a firm handshake, and breathe. Your interview begins as soon as you park your car.

The most nerve-wracking part of an interview can be the questions they may ask you, but think of each interview as more practice! During the interview, remember to think about what you want to say before saying it and make sure your answers are clear, concise, and straight to the point.

Next, we will go in more depth about common interview questions.

 
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Here’s a technique you can use to formulate answers to many interview questions:

STAR Technique

  • (S) Situation - Describe the situation in which the event took place.

  • (T) Task - Describe the task you were asked to complete. Describe any problems or issues you were trying to solve.

  • (A) Action - Explain what you did to complete the task or solve the problem.

  • (R) Results - Explain the results of the action. For example, if your actions result in resolving conflict, or improving company sales, explain that. Here is the time to focus on how YOUR actions resulted in SUCCESS for the company.

Interviewing Common Questions

There are a variety of interview styles. For example, there are phone interviews, Skype interviews, panel interviews, and even lunch interviews. It is important to be prepared for all of these, as that is your opportunity to market yourself and show why YOU are the best candidate for the position. Remember to breathe when speaking and think about what to say before answering!

Some sample interview questions that are commonly asked include, but are not limited to:

  • Tell me a little about yourself.

  • What interested you in applying for this position?

  • Why do you want to work here?

  • What do you know about us?

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

  • What is your greatest strength? Weakness?

  • Why should we hire you?

  • What is the most difficult problem you’ve solved?

  • What steps would you take to make an important decision?

  • Do you have any questions?

These are 10 common interview questions that any interviewer can ask you. Because they are so common, you should practice these and make sure to know what to say if these are asked. From Forbes, here is a link on how to prepare for answering common interview questions.

There’s more!

In addition to the questions above, an interviewer may ask behavioral questions. These are a little more difficult because it requires on-the-spot critical thinking about a particular situation. These types of questions focus on how you’ve handled various situations in the past. Behavioral questions are asked to give the employer a better idea of how you handle certain situations, and to see if you have the skills needed for the position. When describing the problem or issue you solved, try not to focus too much on the negative. Instead, describe how you turned a negative problem into positive results.

Here are five examples of common behavioral questions asked during interviews:

  • Tell me about a time you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.

  • Tell me about a time you had to persuade someone to see things your way at work.

  • Tell me about a time you had to interact with a difficult client.

  • Tell me about a time you had to manage numerous responsibilities.

  • Tell me about a time you had a disagreement with your boss. How did you handle it?

To read some more common behavioral questions and learn to answer them, check this link out.

What If My Interviewer Assigns me Homework?

This Message is from a past Student.

Hi Professor Morris, 


Hope you’re doing well! I just wanted to share with you one of the emails that I received when applying for a marketing position recently. After the first interview, they decided to give me a project to show them my ‘creative side’ and show them what I know. I figured this would be good to show your class to show them potentially what they might have to do in the future! Good luck with your next semester students!

Sincerely,
Sophie Krull 

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CLICK HERE to Share your interview homework story with others.
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Job Shadow Days

Did you get an invitation to visit a company for a day?

Did they ask you to “ride along” with a salesperson?

That’s great news! It means you have an opportunity to learn so much about the company, its employees, and the corporate culture.

If you ever get a Job Shadowing opportunity, TAKE IT!

If you want a great checklist that covers what to do before, during and after a job shadow day, check out Paula Morris’ advice on our Tips from the Pro’s page.

Following Up

One of the most pivotal and commonly overlooked parts of the job application and interviewing process is the follow-up process.  Missing this step will likely be the difference between landing the job or being kicked to the curb. A follow-up email to express your interest should be sent within one day after the interview. The morning after is best because it shows that you have high interest in their company and want to be the first one to stand out. 

Throughout the job application process, you will interact with many different members of the company, you want to send your follow up email to not only the person that interviewed you, but anyone you had encountered throughout your interview process. If you would like to add a sentimental touch when following up, a hand-written note or letter is a very personalized approach. A short-handwritten message can help you stand out from the countless other college graduates.

 

 
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An equally important part of the follow-up process is to connect on social media! Go to the company’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Snapchat… if you have a form of social media you use… FOLLOW IT.  This will keep you up to date and informed on what new and interesting things the company is doing. And guess what? If they give you a follow call or interview you can mention the company policies and news you learned about through social media and ask them questions about the decisions. (It shows them how informed and interested you are in their company!)

Next, ….more about emails.

Dear Mr./Mrs. Last Name: 

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me about (insert name of position) with (Insert Company). I appreciate your time and consideration in interviewing me.

After speaking with you, I believe that I would be a perfect candidate for this position because of (Insert skills or experience you have )__, __, and __. I am very interested in working with you and look forward to hearing you.

Please feel free to contact me if you need further information. Thank you again for you time and consideration.

Best Regards,

(Insert Your Name)

Following Up: Emails

The email should express your gratitude towards them for giving you the opportunity to “start a career” with their company.  You should then continue to elaborate on how you would be a perfect fit for their company. Be sure to express your traits that best qualify you for the position as well as set you apart from the crowd.  This email should not be too long, the individuals you interacted with throughout the application process are very busy and will not give a great deal of time to your email, so it is best to keep it short, sweet, and to the point.  The template email above is great example of what your follow up email should look like. (Feel free to use it!)

Here are 10 additional follow-up- email templates and a template for hand-written thank you letters.
Remember you are still a prospect for this position and typing without proper grammar reflects badly upon yourself. You want to be as professional as you can the whole process.

 

What do I do if I get the job offer?

Congratulations!

Now you finally have that big weight off your shoulders from trying to find a job and can breathe a little bit. Go ahead and call your mom and drink some champagne! When you get the offer, you may be tempted to give an immediate response. You should have a ready to-go line, such as, “Thank you so much for the offer. I am excited for this opportunity. When would you like a response?” This is potentially one of the biggest decisions you will make in a lifetime, so make sure you take time to think it over. Just make sure you let them know of your decision in a timely manner.

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This shows that you are excited for the role but you’re also giving yourself time to make a well-informed decision. Most companies do not look down on you if you need time to think about the offer and review any materials. If you know this is the job you’ve been waiting for, it is also okay to accept the position verbally over the phone, but do not be inclined to do so. If you do accept the job offer, make sure you notify all other employers and thank them for their consideration as well.

Refer to our Negotiation workbook for a more in-depth explanation of what to do when you get a job offer!

If other opportunities have presented themselves and you realize this is not what you want anymore, respectfully decline the job offer. Make sure you thank them for taking you into consideration and be grateful that you got the offer.

It is important before accepting the job that you really understand the written language of the job offer. Compare this with similar jobs in the industry via Glassdoor or another source. If you happen to accept the job offer, be ready to negotiate the commission and stipulations in the contract. For tips on negotiating a job offer, click here or visit the E-book for Negotiation tips. Getting a new job is always going to be exciting and you may be tempted to let the world know by updating your LinkedIn and all other social networks, BUT it is better to wait. Get settled in, a few weeks should suffice, then it is safe to let the world know.

Depending on the position, you may be instructed to complete some tasks prior to beginning your new job so be sure to communicate effectively and check your email for any assignments or paperwork. These should be completed ASAP! If you are to bring any paper work your first day, be sure to print them and be prepared. You have earned this job by working hard.

Enjoy your new job and all the opportunities it offers!

Paperwork   Depending on the company, you may have to complete paperwork in the office or online. Be sure to ask questions if you are not sure how to fill out the paperwork.

Paperwork

Depending on the company, you may have to complete paperwork in the office or online. Be sure to ask questions if you are not sure how to fill out the paperwork.

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Good luck!

We hope this information leads to you to finding and landing the perfect job in your chosen field. Remember, there is always room for practice and never forget the resources around you. You now have the necessary tips to be successful finding a great job, starting with the application process. Use this information and the other sources we’ve compiled to help you achieve professional success.

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Our Team

Jason Smith, Diya D’Sa, Corrine Dovell, Bradley Messick

Jason Smith, Diya D’Sa, Corrine Dovell, Bradley Messick

 

We hope you found this information helpful. Feel free to share it with friends.

Good luck with your job search!