Resume: Check; But, Are You Ready for the Interview?

Career Blog

Published: July 5, 2019 by Greta Snyder

Now that you have revised your resume are you ready for the interview? Last week I focused on the process of upping your resume game with the help of our rock-star SJSU iSchool Career Consultant Jill Klees. I cannot thank her enough for all her insight and guidance; Jill should have a reality show, “resume rescue,” no joke! So after you reach out to Jill for some fine-tuning, it’s probable that your now high-impact resume will land you a chance at job of your dreams. Are your job skills as polished as your resume?

Constant Revisions

Once you update your resume to really highlight your LIS skills and relevant experience, it is crucial to understand that revisions will be constant. It’s essential to tailor your resume to the specific job you’re applying for in order to demonstrate that you’ve carefully paid attention to the job requirement and responsibility details, you’re interested in that specific role, and why you’re the best candidate.

Also, our field is constantly adapting and changing, so it is key to keep up with current terminology and the hottest skills. A few suggestions:

  • Constantly look at job postings for positions you are interested in to see if you can tweak any resume vocabulary; include as many searchable key words as possible.
  • Focus your job search so you can modify your resume to specific jobs or fields.
  • Edit your qualifications to directly respond to a job posting’s requirements.

Applying for employment opportunities is a job in and of itself! It is a lot of work, but if you tailor your resume to present your unique experience and skills while also articulating your qualifications for the specific role, you’ll have a good chance of getting the job interview. Now that you’ve marketed yourself in a strategic fashion via your resume, it’s time to ace the job interview.

The STAR Interview Strategy

Who doesn’t want to be the star of their interview? In a previous post, I touched upon the importance of exploring the amazing SJSU resources on answering behavioral interview questions. Why do interviewers sometimes ask seemingly odd or irrelevant situation or behavioral questions?

As Jill explains, these questions are asked to: “get to know you, understand your work style, see how you handle stressful situations, and learn more about your personality style.” You will be put on the spot in interviews, and the best strategy is to stay focused on what skills the interviewer wants to hear about and to have a repertoire of past examples mentally queued up to answer these type of questions with illuminating examples of how your values, interests, personality and work style fit with the workplace culture. Being ready with examples of how your specific skills, such as initiative, adaptability, creative problem solving, empathy, presentation style, handling failure, or attention to strategic planning, are key.

Per Big Interview, an excellent interview training service we’ve touched on before, don’t focus on the intimidating nature of behavioral questions, instead realize that this is the time you can stand out by using your storytelling skills. So be your professional self and tell your story!

With this overall concept in mind, this week let’s dive deeper into a structured strategic answer approach to these behavioral questions advocated by both Jill and Big Interview: the STAR structure. The acronym STAR stands for Situation/Task, Action, and Result. Sounds great, but what does this mean exactly?

  • Situation/Task – e.g., “I was overseeing the training and development of 220 employees and needed to devise a strategy for achieving company-wide goals while supporting the individual learning needs of the employees.”
  • Action – “I strategically connected with leadership to identify key measurable company-wide priorities, and then individually checked in with employees to identify needs. I then connected employee learning objectives with larger company initiatives in order to schedule out training that would align with organizational values while cultivating a culture of learning and internal employee development.”
  • Result – “By leveraging my project management skills to schedule and my relationship-building skills to advocate for employees while supporting leadership objectives, I was able to lead and work through others in order to oversee trainings that lead to the promotion of over 100 employees and the development of a peer mentor team to continue to enrich learning culture in my workplace.”

Watch this super informative Big Interview video to learn more.

Also check out all the extremely worthwhile focused blog posts on specific behavior interview questions available through Big Interview; here are a few of my favorites:

  • Intercultural Fluency – even if this skill is not listed in the job description, it’s likely to come up. Not only is this a crucial life skill in general, for job interviews it’s key to think of how you can demonstrate your awareness, sensitivity, and ability to navigate complex situations with people from all different cultures and backgrounds. So, reflect on past experiences and learn to articulate your specific skills for working with diverse groups.
  • Teamwork – prepare to discuss your strengths as a “team-player” by being able to tell a story about how you work in teams. Main takeaway:  highlight yourself as someone able to help bring out the best among your team members, and provide a dynamic measurable outcome or a successful “dramatic ending.” Just imagine, the interviewer has asked this question a million times before and wants to be wowed and convinced that you are the missing ingredient.
  • Leadership – this again may not be part of the job description but you nevertheless might be asked about your leadership experience to assess both your leadership potential and your project management skills. The key is to focus on the specifics of your leadership strategy, so pick a particular situation that relates to the role you are interviewing for and keep the story concise and memorable.
  • Failure – not only is it crucial to prepare to answer the super common question regarding your greatest weakness, a smart approach is to have an answer that relates to a time you made a mistake or failed. Choose a real failure; don’t pick the worst mistake you ever made or one from when you were a part-time high school grocery checker, pick something recent and relatable, always provide the learning outcome and actions you have taken to apply this to subsequent work or projects.

Final Thoughts

As Big Interview sums it up, “the truth is undeniable: candidates who prepare and practice land more job offers.” So, don’t prepare to fail your job interview, prepare to answer questions about failure, about weaknesses, and tell specific stories about teamwork, cultural fluency, problem solving, leadership and your behavior in any situation you might be asked about!

For example, I recently had a job interview where I was asked about a mistake I had made in a specific role, and this caught me off guard. I was not prepared to answer this questions so just went for an example that made for the best story of what I learned and how I took action. What became clear is how crucial it is to be able to articulate what and how you have learned from work experiences. So, compile a few learning opportunities as your “Favorite Mistake” list (thank you Sheryl Crow); then you’ll be ready to answer questions about weaknesses and mistakes in an authentic but strategic way. The point of the question is to give you an opportunity to speak to your ability to be open to feedback and constructive criticism, to take ownership of your successes and failures, and to demonstrate on-the-job learning and how you would handle issues or conflict that might come up in the future.

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