October 9, 2013 – While the unemployment rate has continued to decline this year, there are still many more applicants for each and every job opening. As a result, competition remains extremely high and job-seekers need to differentiate themselves in order to just get an interview, as well as during it and after it’s over, according to OI Partners, a leading global executive coaching and leadership development and consulting firm.

OI Partners surveyed its career professionals to uncover key language, tactics and strategies that are proving to be most effective in helping job seekers successfully land and respond to interview opportunities.

According to Patty Prosser, chair of OI Partners, following are the top 15 things to do and say to help you clinch a job offer:

  1. Desire – how much do you want the job? An interviewer wants to ascertain how much the job means to you. At the end of an interview, say: “When I came here today, I thought there was a good fit between the needs of the job and my skills and experience. But, after talking, I can see this position is exactly the kind of opportunity and challenge I’ve been looking for.” But not just at the end of the interview – one can express an interest a few times. For example ” This is sounding like a very good fit for me,” or “I’m confident I could hit the ground running.”
  2. Leave-behind: “Prepare something to leave behind at the end of or to use during the interview. This could be your analysis of the company’s needs or a portfolio of your work that demonstrates how your skills, talents and experience align with the position’s requirements and needs,” said Prosser. Or prepare a plan on how you would approach starting the position, which would demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the job.
  3. Unusual questions: “Be ready for strange or unusual interview questions. They are not being asked to trick you, but to reveal qualities that can’t be determined from your resume. The questions are designed to discover how you think, handle unexpected problems and situations, whether you are a good fit for their culture, and how creative you are. Make a list of possible questions, be familiar with why they are being asked, and rehearse potential answers,” Prosser added. For example: “If you only had six months to live, what would you do with the time?’ Or “How many trees would you say are in Yellowstone National Park?”
  4. Tell a story: Job applicants are more often being asked to tell interviewers a story. Compose it in advance and relate it to the needs of the organization or job for which you are applying. It’s an opportunity to showcase your humor as well as your creative side. You should relate a real-life story in response to answering any number of questions as a dovetail to your answer, by saying: “For example (and tell a short story).”Think of it as selling by using an anecdote.
  5. Compliment the company: “Find an aspect of the organization’s work to which you can offer a compliment, such as the quality of their products or services or their involvement with charitable causes. Have facts and figures available to include in your compliment. If you are interviewing for a retail or consumer products company, visit one of their stores prior to the interview or check out the product in a store so you can comment on it during the interview,” said Prosser.
  6. Compliment the interviewer: Review your interviewer’s LinkedIn profile and conduct an Internet search before your meeting. Compile some complimentary things to say, such as how you are impressed by his or her advanced degrees, an article he or she wrote, or a quote in a newspaper. Have the LinkedIn profile printed out.
  7. Contributive Value: “Practice ‘contributive value’ and include others in credit for your accomplishments, instead of attributing them solely to your own efforts,” said Prosser.  Example: “After a brainstorming session, my team members and I came up with a solution for a key customer problem that involved bringing in employees from different parts of our company.”
  8. Show enthusiasm: Companies want people who are enthusiastic and excited about working with them. Be able to communicate what about the company’s products or services inspires you and how you can convey that in your daily work.
  9. Display your personality: When responding to the question, ‘Tell me about yourself,’ it’s important to share your personal side and not only your business accomplishments. Articulate what makes you unique as a person and employee. Appear confident and upbeat.
  10. Opportunity knocking: Emphasize that you regard the job as a life plan and learning opportunity. Say: “I am not looking for just a job; I am looking for a career.” Also, when asked about salary requirements, say: “I am more interested in the experience I will receive than the paycheck I will get.”
  11. Team spirit: Being a team player is the number one characteristic employers are looking for in job-seekers, according to an OI Partners survey. With work forces still lean, 7 out of 10 employers said being able to accomplish goals with others is the most important trait they desire. It is beneficial that you be viewed as a collaborative problem-solver. This is a great time to use another story, about a team- oriented accomplishment – keep it real and brief.
  12. How you add value: Companies want to know how you can add value to them. Adapt your message to the company you are targeting by tying it into the current goals and mission of the organization. Ensure that your value is considered current and relevant to the employer.
  13. Leadership qualities: With most companies developing their future leaders from within their organizations, rather than recruiting from outside, they are looking for workers with high leadership potential. Include specific examples of how your leadership of a project influenced a team or drove results.
  14. Express passion: In cover letters and during the interview, express that you are passionate about a facet of the job you are applying for, such as customer service, marketing, or problem-solving.
  15. New knowledge and skills: Companies want to hire employees with tomorrow’s knowledge today. Learning can include courses you are taking and degrees you are pursuing, participating in webinars, attending technology expos and trade shows and online software courses. Relate what you are learning to how this can make you a great hire.
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