When the employment rate sits on the side of employers, candidates need
to step up. We hope this gives job-seekers an insight into what won’t work in today’s competitive market.
This is the candidate who loves a conversation and can talk their way
out of anything. They can answer every question, and they almost steal
the show with quirky experiences and humorous expressions. Though
captivated during the interview, we worried about substance and whether
we would actually get high-quality work and commitment.
This was a close contender to our winner because of their candor about
what they can and can’t do. We felt confident this person would raise
any personal or work issues, and that we wouldn’t need to worry about
their being disloyal or divulging confidential information. What we
struggled with was the candidate’s confidence and whether they would
back themselves when it came to grueling client or media situations.
This candidate made us wonder if we were on “Candid Camera”; despite
looking strong on paper, they made it hard to take them seriously.
Instead of directly answering a question, these candidates would
chuckle, breathe heavily, or actively search for an experience that
would answer standard interview questions. Our tip for this job-seeker
would be to familiarize themselves with interviews, have work samples
ready, and do research on the company and role they’re applying for.
Juggling a number of interviews at a time, this candidate is a serial
interviewee (and you may even get their application twice). They know
the drill and answer the questions—even the one on what attracted you to
this role—with the same script you know they’ve shared with others.
They actually don’t care what job they’re going for, they just want a
“job.” For this candidate, we say avoid the shotgun approach (which
doesn’t work in our field)—you catch more jobs with a more targeted
This is the candidate we go for. They’re enthusiastic, they have
relevant experience, they know the role, and they have researched our
company. They can confidently answer questions and can identify
unfortunate situations and their role in resolving them. Their
personality matches the position and industry they’re applying
for—they’re personable, funny, intelligent, and ambitious, yet humble
and ready to dive into a new environment.
As employers receive an avalanche of applications for job openings they
advertise, it’s important for job-seekers to find ways to stand out. If
you don’t have the skills and experience listed, it’s better to contact
the company before applying to see how they’re tracking. That way you
don’t waste your time or theirs. With all the ways to communicate and
build relationships—including Twitter, LinkedIn, video, and the good old
phone call—would-be candidates should take a step back from auto-apply
and think how they can leave an impression that lands that next key
Nicole Reaney is the founder and director of Australia-based boutique agency
Inside Out PR, an industry leader in
creativity and technology solutions. A version of this story first appeared on the agency’s blog.
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