This past year I was put in charge of organizing the hiring process of three new employees at the Western Washington University Parking Office where I work. The process included printing submitted applications, scheduling interviews, creating interview questions, interviewing candidates and evaluating candidates. Through this process, I witnessed positive and negative ways to go about a mass interview process (we had over 40 candidates interview for three positions) and I would like to share five tips to prospective job candidates to improve chances of standing out in a large pool of interviewees.
- Make sure you complete everything required of you and also include suggested items. This position was for a student clerical job on a college campus; we tend to hire younger students who are usually less experienced but we keep students for their entire college career if we can. This means that a lot of students don’t have real resumes but submitting no resume is worse than submitting a resume with little experience listed.
- Act professional on the phone when someone calls about interviews. This sounds obvious but I got a lot of “yeaaaahh okay, suure” when I called about setting up an interview. Know your schedule, know when you’re available/not so it doesn’t take ten minutes to schedule a simple interview. Ask questions about where the interview is, etc.
- Professionals look at your online social networking profiles. This is the age, when companies will make you log into your Facebook account so they can take a look at what you’re doing and view your private content. In our case it was mainly to get a feel for students, what they’re interested in, and if they have any crazy blacked out partying pictures. Be aware that the hiring company will look at your social media profile even if the job is not related to social media.
- Do a dry run with someone else. There were a few interviewees who not only didn’t answer questions we asked but spent so long not answering our questions and babbling about other things that we didn’t want to continue the interview. I think even in a dream job situation where you are super enthusiastic about the opportunity be careful not to come off as spastic and super chatty.
- The winning candidates shared four characteristics. The three girls we eventually hired were brought back for second interviews after initially interviewing about 40 candidates — clearly they stood out. They shared the characteristics of being warm, prepared, professional and engaged. They carefully listened to our questions and thoughtfully answered them, something that was rare.
Hopefully these five hints will guarantee success in standing out during a large-pool hiring process. Humility seems to be a constantly shrinking characteristic in younger generations; a little humility goes a long way with interviewers and can impress even the staunchest professional.
Emily Howard is a senior at WWU majoring in Communication. She works in the parking office at WWU where she helps with things like training, permit assigning and cake baking. In her free time she writes a blog http://emuhleehoward.tumblr.com/ and you can follow her on twitter here: @emuhleehoward