Last week I had the distinct pleasure of speaking to a group of graduate students at Seton Hall University. During the Q&A portion, one student wanted advice on interviewing.
Specifically, he wanted pointers on how to be more optimistic since he despises the interviewing process.
My advice to him was simple, “Network and use your connections. This will help you in a couple of ways.” Then I went on to explain my answer.
When someone refers you for a position they are lending you their good name. That person is saying, “I know this person and he/she is an excellent match for you.”
Your contact has had the opportunity to brief the company on your qualifications. Now, you no longer have the pressure of proving ALL of your good attributes and experiences in one meeting.
Instead you can relax a little, focus on answering the questions honestly, and discussing your background. You have basically been put in the place where your largest objective is to not mess things up.
You may receive insider information on the company, position and interviewer. Of course, you must prepare for an interview by researching the company.
But in addition to the general information available, you now have the opportunity to receive information that can give you a lead.
For instance, you can hear a true description of what the company is looking for in a candidate, not the boilerplate description posted. You can find out ahead of time why the position is open, nuances of the interviewer, and the type of people you may be working with on a regular basis.
It is also great to find out how the company runs, and what the employees actually think.
In addition, using your network may allow you to apply for positions that have not been posted yet. This lessens the competition – enough said.
Towanda Long aka The Café Lady