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15 things to do & say to help clinch a job offer: Part I

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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 just to get an interview in addition to during the interview and after it as well, according to OI Partners-Innovative Career Consulting, a leading global coaching and leadership development and consulting firm in Denver.

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 Susan Ruhl, Managing Partner of OI Partners-Innovative Career Consulting, here are the top 15 things you can do and say to help 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 Ruhl. 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: Ruhl adds that you should 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. 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: Ruhl recommends finding 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.

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 Ruhl. 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.”

Don't miss tips 8 through 15 in Part II and seal that deal.

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About this Examiner: Kathryn Marion is the award-winning author of GRADS: TAKE CHARGE of Your First Year After College!, the most comprehensive resource for navigating the world of work and independent living after graduation, as well as host of the book’s companion resource site, www.GradsTakeCharge.com. The print edition of GRADS: TAKE CHARGE is available through Amazon and other online booksellers. The e-book edition is available through e-junkie.

Kathryn also coaches students, graduates, and career changers as well as consults with small businesses and aspiring authors.

Follow her other Examiner columns: College to Career and Life After College. And even more articles on SelfGrowth.com.

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