Job interviews can be nerve-wracking. Knowing what the hiring manager is thinking may give you an edge. Over the span of my career in ophthalmology, I have interviewed thousands of potential employees one-on-one and as part of a panel interview including department heads and physicians. I have been privy to the debate that goes on after the candidate has left as qualifications, work history and performance of the potential employee is scrutinized. Let's peek inside the hiring manager's head...
RESUME & COVER LETTER This is typically the first thing that is evaluated. The manager is looking for pertinent work history and education, length of tenure on jobs, reasons for leaving jobs and any time-gaps in work or education.
Pertinent work history which may seem unrelated to the job for which you're applying may have provided you with transferable skills the manager desires. For instance, a restaurant server who has not worked in the medical field may have valuable customer service skills to bring to the table.
If you've held many different jobs of short duration be prepared to explain why. As a hiring manager, I eschewed "job hoppers". Why would I want to invest time in hiring and training someone whose history strongly suggests they won't stay long? Also be prepared to explain gaps on your resume. Gaps due to illness, pregnancy or a spouse being relocated as well as family emergencies are understandable. Gaps due to vague reasons or because you "needed to take a break" may paint you as being "flighty".
The cover letter and resume must be pristine in grammar and spelling. I know you've heard this before BUT you would be shocked how many resumes and cover letters have grammar and spelling errors. With spell-check readily available there's simply no excuse for an error.
Be sure to type your name and contact information clearly and in a large font on your resume and cover letter. I regularly received resumes that were faxed or scanned which did not come through clearly. The resumes which used small fonts for the contact information were frequently illegible. Seeing a stellar candidate's resume but not having proper contact information was frustrating.
Part II will cover the initial contacts via a phone call and how to prepare for the interview itself. Stay tuned....