Unemployed? Here’s how to nab an interview

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last businesswoman in waiting listBy Alan Carniol, founder of Interview Success Formula

If you’re out of work, looking for a new job can be challenging, especially if you’ve been unemployed for an extended period of time. Here are some expert tips for staying on track and nabbing an interview:

Convey confidence
“Remember to be enthusiastic and interested throughout the interview, regardless of how frustrated you may be with your job search,” says Lynne Sarikas, director of Northeastern University’s MBA Career Center.

Yes, being unemployed isn’t fun. Getting turned down from previous interviews can make the feeling even worse. Still, if you bring those feelings into your next interview, you might jeopardize your chances.

The antidote for this negativity? Focus on how you can still produce results on the job. “You are competing with current workers, so you have to show that you are still capable, knowledgeable and that you add value to the company in this position,” Sarikas says.

Show you aren’t rusty
Employers want workers who are up to date on their knowledge and skills. If you want to impress employers, review all the tools you used in past jobs, and make sure you’re familiar with all the relevant industry language.

“Know the software you used in each role you’ve worked,” says Sarah Connors, staffing manager in the human resources contracts division at WinterWyman. “Software is becoming a bigger item to help get you in the door, and those names should roll off your tongue like you used them yesterday. [Saying] ‘Um’ … because you can’t remember a name makes it seem like you don’t remember the software, and if you don’t remember the software, then it’s not a value-add you’re bringing to the next company.”

Another way to prove your value? “Use your network: Connect with former co-workers and managers on LinkedIn to get a great referral that shows what a capable, valuable employee you can be,” Connors says.

Prove your fit
“Fit is the most critical determination in hiring for both the hiring manager and the candidate,” Sarikas says. “For the hiring manager, there are typically multiple candidates with the skills to do the job. The challenge is finding the best person for the job based on how they fit with the team and the culture of the organization.”

So how do you communicate fit? Be yourself, says Kevin Ricklefs, senior vice president of talent management at CHG Healthcare. “Don’t just answer the question; add some personality and passion into each response,” Ricklefs says. “Your personality comes through when you convey enthusiasm for certain topics, you tell stories that explain your ‘why’s, and you ask questions of the interviewer in areas that interest you.”

Explain any long-term unemployment
If you have not worked for a while, you may be asked about it in your interviews. Invest the time in creating a strong answer to this question.

“Being honest is always the best option,” Connors says. “If there’s something you feel is too personal to share, you’ll want to talk to a recruiter, mentor or trusted friend about how to discuss it. Highlight any volunteer work, contract positions or classes you have taken that show you’ve been active and keeping your skills fresh. It’s too competitive a market to not give yourself every advantage.”

Alan Carniol is the founder of Interview Success Formula, a job program that helps job seekers to deliver powerful answers that prove why they are the right person for the job. Follow Alan and Interview Success Formula on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

  1. The article is useful but it seems to me that its title is not accurate enough. The tips explain how to do well in an interview, NOT how to even land one. In that aspect, “how to impress interviewers” would be a better title.

  2. I have been unemployed now for 20 months. I’m in my mid-50′s. I have a bachelors degree and have worked in social services here in NYC for most of my working life. While I don’t give my age out directly, or put  my college graduation date on my resume, my grey hair gives  people a clue as to my age group. I am always projecting optimism during an interview, but when I see someone half my age interviewing me, I’m internally pessimistic. How do I get past the age factor  as well as  my lengthy unemployment during the job interview?

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