Getting Back Into The Workforce

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By: Andres Guerrero

Due to everything that happened with the pandemic, a lot of us were on furlough or working from home. Now, things are going back to normal. The state is opening slowly but surely and a lot of people are going back to the workforce. Also coming back is the nerve-wracking in-person interview!

Getting Prepared

One of the main important things to remember after you’ve applied to a company (or even before you’ve applied) is to do the research. Go on the company website and read about their mission, vision, and values. Ensure that the organization shares your core values. Check the company’s LinkedIn account. Check their social media page. See what the company is saying and ensure they will be a good fit for you. Read reviews on Yelp, Glassdoor, and other sites. Both positive and negative reviews can give you a lot of information about an organization. Read what people think about the company. It can help you gauge your interest in the organization and serves as a sort of resume for your potential employer.

The Night Before

On the night before an interview, you’ll want to get organized. 

Prepare Your Documents

Make sure to have all your documents ready. Having additional copies of your resume is a great idea. There might be additional people in the interview you weren’t expecting. It’s always very important to know what kind of documentation you need. You might have to provide evidence of certification or other credentials. Have paper and a pen just in case you need to write something down. 

Isometric Cellphone with Location Indicator
Map out your destination before the interview

Find the Location

It’s very important to know where the interview is taking place. Sometimes smaller businesses or those that don’t do a lot of customer walk-in might have locations that are hard to find. They may not have easy-to-locate signage or they might be inside of another building. Be sure to find out ahead of time where you are going and how long it will take to get there. 

If possible, drive by just to make sure you know the way. This can also help you evaluate the availability of parking. If you can’t visit, try google maps to see the best route to take and know an alternate route just in case. Write down the address and save it into your phone in case something goes wrong. Be sure to fill your car with gas the night before and have the contact phone number for the person you are meeting in case an accident occurs. Leave early to ensure you arrive on time. 

When visiting the site, be sure to be polite and respectful to everyone. The receptionist or the person you saw in the parking lot or elevator might turn out to be one of your evaluators. 

What to Wear

Make sure you have your outfit picked out and ready along with a backup. You might spill coffee on your pants or get makeup on your blouse. Having a backup in case of accidents can save you a lot of hassle if something happens.

If you have a chance, take note of what the employees are wearing on the company website or social media. Every organization is different but you can’t go wrong dressing professionally for an interview. A suit or blazer with a tie and slacks is the standard outfit for men. For women make sure to dress professionally. It’s always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed during an interview. Go easy on the perfume or cologne and avoid overly bright colors. 

Review The Job Posting

Before the interview, look over the job posting and know the job duties and responsibilities. They will likely ask you about your skills and you will want to have an answer. Because it’s best to customize your resume for every job you apply for, it can be easy to mix up which skills you’ve focused on. Be sure to review the resume you sent this organization so you’re prepared to answer questions. Be sure to know the keywords and key skills or certifications in the job posting. Know where you match up and areas where you have room to grow. Be prepared to talk up the areas you match the organization.

Vector drawing of a woman waiting for an elevator
Be sure to prepare your elevator speech before the interview

The Elevator Speech

Prepare your elevator speech. What are you going to say when they ask you to “Tell me a little about yourself?” Preparing a good elevator speech takes practice and they aren’t looking for your life story. Be sure to include where you went to school, what skills you have, and why you’re a good fit for the position. It should be about one or two minutes, show off that you researched the company, and include what you can offer the organization.

Prepare Some Questions

Be prepared to ask some questions. There is always a portion of the interview where they ask if you have any questions for the organization. You should always have 2-3 questions ready to go! The best questions will be ones that incorporate the research you’ve done on the company and align with your skills. Ask questions to lead the conversation in a direction where you can show off your strengths. Let them know your desire to be part of the team.

Some Possible Questions

  • What do you do here at the company?
  • Why did you decide to come work here? 
  • What do you like about working here?
  • What are the challenges?
  • What are the main goals of the company?
  • What is the company culture?
  • What type of people are successful here?

During the Interview

During the interview remember to be confidentpositive, and maintain eye contact. If you’re being interviewed by more than one person remember to keep directing a little bit of your answer to each person. Emphasize the skills you have, but also acknowledge your ability to learn and grow. Be honest if you don’t know the answer to a question. Never lie or make up an answer.

 Be careful not to ramble because you’re nervous. Once you’ve answered a question, stop talking! Don’t give unnecessary information or ramble to fill time. 

Be engaged, confident, positive, and smile! 

Review your performance afterward. There is always room for improvement!

A vector of an envelope and a thank you note
Thank you notes show common courtesy and respect

Follow Up Letters

By sending a follow-up email or note, you show your interviewer common courtesy and respect. So few job applicants send thank-you notes that you automatically stand out if you do. A thank you note allows you to reiterate points you made during your interview. It lets you make points you forgot to make in your interview and demonstrates your written communication skills. A simple thank you email will go a long way.

Thank you letter Do’s and Don’ts

Do:

Send your email right away. Ideally within 24 hours of the interview to thank the hiring managers and confirm your interest.

Include all your interviewers. Or, send separate emails to each person with whom you spoke. It’s a good idea to gather business cards after the interview and make a note of the interviewer’s names during the meeting so you’ll know whom to send the thank you email to. Keep in mind that if you do the latter, your messages should vary somewhat so that the recipients don’t compare notes later and feel like they got a chain email. 

Include the name of the position in the subject line along with the words “thank you.” This will ensure that the hiring manager sees your response and knows that your email is important.

Remind the interviewer of your qualifications. Make sure to mention any keywords in the original job listing (or that came up during the interview itself

Offer links. Link to your online portfolios and other professional sites and networks.

Don’t

Stalk your interviewers. One thank you email and a follow-up a week or so later are more than enough. Remember that your goal is not only to show the hiring managers that you’re qualified but to convince them that they want to work with you. Repeatedly hounding them with follow-up emails won’t build your case.

Send a follow-up that makes you look bad. This includes personal social media profiles that contain unprofessional pictures or behavior. Err on the side of caution when determining this. You might not see anything wrong with a photo of you enjoying a margarita on a tropical vacation, but your hiring manager might feel differently. 

Be too casual. Don’t use memes, internet acronyms, etc

Send misspelled or grammatically incorrect emails. Have a trusted friend proofread your thank you email. Even professional editors make mistakes when they try to work on their own. Get another set of eyeballs to look over your work before you hit “send”.

Thank You Email Example

Subject Line of the Message

Thank you – Assistant Account Executive Interview

Message

Dr./Mr./Ms. Last Name:

I enjoyed speaking with you today about the assistant account executive position at the Smith Agency.

The job seems to be an excellent match for my skills and interests.

The creative approach to account management that you described confirmed my desire to work with you.

In addition to my enthusiasm, I will bring to the position strong writing skills, assertiveness, and the ability to encourage others to work cooperatively with the department.

I appreciate the time you took to interview me. I am very interested in working for you and look forward to hearing from you regarding this position.

Sincerely,

Your Name
Email Address
Phone Number

[LinkedIn URL]
[Website URL]

Several we're hiring signs
We are in a time where everyone is looking to hire

Get Started Today!

We are in a time where everyone is looking to hire so those that are prepared, eager, and excited will have the upper hand. We encourage all students to reach out to Career Services. We can help in updating and modifying your resume and cover letters. Don’t be afraid to apply for multiple jobs. Statistically, you’re going to get a response to only about 20% of the jobs you apply for. It’s mostly about confidence. Go in there, be positive, and show them you are the best candidate for the job

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