Job Interview Advice Straight from the Horse's Mouth
Want to stand out from other job applicants? You will need high grades, demonstrable passion for your work and, of course, good grammar, according to hiring managers at Texas Instruments, a semiconductor and computer technology company that employees a staff of more than 34,000 worldwide.
For jobseekers, the process of writing cover letters, assembling resumes and going on interviews can seem opaque, with few clues to indicate what they are doing well and what needs improvement. So we asked TI's head of worldwide staffing Shannon Freeze-Flory and Andrew Hardy, director of sales and applications, to share their thoughts about what they look for in candidates and what can get an applicant noticed (in both good and not-so-good ways).
Check Your Qualifications
The most basic advice Freeze-Flory offered might seem obvious: Make sure you are qualified for the job. If you do not meet the minimum requirements laid out in the job listing -- years of experience, skills, GPA (for new college graduates) -- your application is unlikely to get a second glance, she said. If your resume does get further consideration, recruiters will look for concrete signs of accomplishment in your field, Hardy said.
"Try to make every aspect of your resume quantifiable, so that a person could see where you stand," he said.
If you are a new graduate with little professional experience, the recruiters advised making sure to highlight activities that demonstrate leadership or passion for your field: acting as captain of a sports team, competing in academic contests, participating in relevant extracurricular activities.
Content isn't the only important part of the application; presentation matters as well. Recruiters look at a resume as a sign of future professionalism, therefore spelling mistakes, grammar errors or inconsistent style and formatting can be dealbreakers, Hardy said.
"It will be a representation to me of their written communication when they get on the job," Hardy said. "I do put a lot of weight on that."
Be On-Target & Ready to Walk the Walk
Once you make it to the interview stage, it is important to prepare for your meetings with recruiters and hiring managers, Freeze-Flory said. Review any information provided by the company, and use Internet searches and networking websites to learn as much as you can about the business, its products and the people with whom you will be meeting.
"You need to know the organization you are talking to," she said. "Know enough to ask good questions."
During the interview, be prepared to demonstrate, not just declare, that you have the qualities the company is looking for. Saying you are passionate or organized or curious isn't enough. At TI, for example, you might be asked to talk in detail about your previous tech accomplishments or get into specifics about your hobby of building your own computers.
"We do not take statements like, 'I have an affinity for technology' at face value," Hardy said. "We will put that to the test."
Think About Your Professional Development
And what if you get the dreaded question about your greatest weakness?
These days, Freeze-Flory said, recruiters are more likely to ask you what "development opportunities" you see for yourself. And the goal is not to trick you into revealing flaws, but to judge whether you have given serious thought to your own professional development, she said.
Dress & Act the Part
When choosing an interview outfit, plan to "dress the way you want to be remembered," Freeze-Flory said. Still not sure what's appropriate? Go ahead and ask the recruiter, she said.
And just like a bold appearance, Hardy said he likes to see candidates get assertive at the end of the interview. "Ask for the job," he said. "If you want to work somewhere, let it be known before you walk out the door."
Follow Through with the Follow-Up
A thank you note after the interview is highly recommended, Hardy and Freeze-Flory said. But don't slack off just because you made it through the interview: hiring managers are paying attention to the timing and content of your follow-up communications. Comment on the conversations you had during your interview, perhaps, Hardy said.
"It is crucial to have follow-up," he said.
Thank you for reading. As an added bonus, the Salary.com editorial has compiled a recommended reading list regarding this topic. Enjoy:
- What Doe Somebody Have to Do to Get a Job Around Here!: 44 Insider Secrets & Tips That Will Get You Hired
- The Unspoken Rules of Getting Hired: 107 Job-Hunting Secrets Employers Do Not Want You to Know
- "Headhunter" Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed...Forever!
- Win the Job You Want: 7 Secrets Hiring Managers Don't Tell You