Finding and landing a new job is something of a journey; an impactful, often life-altering transition made up of smaller steps, analysis, trials and triumphs.
And, like any worthwhile endeavor, selecting what will become the next great step in their career often fills people with hope, excitement and a considerable amount of nervous energy.
Some begin their job search like a hunter in the Stone Age; methodically scanning their environment for openings, options and opportunities to pounce on.
Others take a different route, opting to cast a wider, less selective net with the intention of choosing the best option from a firmly-vetted field.
No matter what your job search looks like, or what you prioritize during it, in the end, we all want the same thing: to find a position where we can lean into our passions, refine our skillsets and thrive.
That said, without putting your best foot forward with each interview — a foot garnished according to each prospective employer’s dress-code guidelines 😁 — it can be difficult to land a job. Too often, job seekers can’t secure their dream role simply because they struggled throughout the interview process.
But this doesn’t have to happen to you.
Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), we’ve been hiring people in various locations across the United States for decades now. During this time, through thousands of interviews, it has been our privilege to meet with excellent candidates interested in various roles across our organization.
This experience has given us a well-rounded understanding of what employers are looking for during an interview, including how successful candidates prepare, respond to questioning, carry themselves and follow up.
In this article, we’ll outline the critical steps you should take to ensure your next job interview is as successful as possible, this includes:
- What you should do during your job hunt.
- How you should go about preparing for your interview.
- Some tips to utilize during your next interview.
- Best practices for post-interview follow-up.
At its conclusion, this article will leave you far better suited to leave each interview with a confident grin and swelling pride at a job well done.
Tips to Employ During Your Job Hunt
Here’s the deal, getting the most production from your job search — interview included — begins well before you submit a resume.
Sometimes, candidates forget to consider that, in today’s day and age, first impressions are seldom left to in-person meetings. And, in a job market that has employers hunting for talented individuals with values that match theirs, it’s important that your digital footprint helps your job search.
So here are four things you can do:
- Clean up your social media accounts
- Set up a professional voicemail message
- Ensure you have a professional email address to utilize
- Always answer calls cheerfully and professionally
1. Clean Up Your Social Media Accounts
With its arrival, the digital age brought avenues of opportunity to every corner of society: businesses got direct-to-consumer eCommerce; people got instant entertainment and asynchronous connection and airplanes were given autonomous route-planning capabilities — connecting the world like never before.
Can you guess what corporate recruiters and employers received?
An additional option for vetting candidates — an option in the form of social media.
At the scroll of a mouse, a few taps on a keyboard and a swift left-click, companies can learn all they need — and more — about a job candidate.
Sometimes, job seekers see their search end before it even began due to unprofessional, inappropriate conduct on public social platforms. Companies look to hire individuals who they feel fit their corporate values and it’s not unusual for them to steer clear of people who — based on their online conduct (profanity, illegal drug usage, etc.)— might not.
Luckily, the impression a recruiter is left with after viewing your Facebook, Instagram and other social accounts, is up to you.
Be conscious of the things you post. Think about who — outside of your direct connections — might see the things you publish. And, to avoid this issue entirely, it’s our recommendation that you turn your privacy settings to “private”.
Note, hiring decisions will never be swayed based on political affiliations, gender, sexual orientation and/or other discriminatory biases. Our point here is simply to point out the impact unprofessional behavior on social media can make on your ability to obtain employment consideration.
Always remember: great companies — the businesses you want to work for — make educated hiring decisions by using every resource available — social media included. Let’s give them every reason to grant you an interview.
2. Set Up a Professional Voicemail Message
Sure, it’d be nice if you could swiftly answer the phone every time it rings throughout your job search. Doing so might even expedite this process. That said, with so much going on every day, it’s not unusual for candidates to spend their fair share of time playing phone tag with prospective employers.
With this in mind, and in the hopes of gaining an interview following a missed call or two, it’s important that your voicemail message is professional. This will probably be the first time your recruiter hears your voice so it’s important to make a good impression.
Here are our best tips for recording your outgoing voicemail message:
- Use a friendly tone to record a warm greeting.
- Speak slowly and clearly, stating your name and offering a relative timeframe for when you’ll be getting back to callers.
- Make sure to limit background noise.
- Keep it concise.
By utilizing these tips and ensuring your inbox is clear of clutter, you’ll be able to continue your job hunt without worrying about your voicemail message setting you back.
Don’t forget to check yours though! Sometimes, job seekers miss out on opportunities simply because they forgot to check their missed calls and voicemail inboxes.
3. Ensure You Have a Professional Email Address to Utilize
In pursuit of your dream job, you won’t want to find yourself in a position where the email address you’re using — on your resume or to submit applications — works to your detriment.
You see, when deciding which candidates to interview, corporate recruiters have to examine minute differences between them. While these differences include things like work experience, education history and pay expectations, smaller things like social media usage also make an impact.
A candidate's email address, as small a thing as it seems, can also weigh into a company’s decision-making process.
You see, should a candidate submit an application or reply to an email with an address that has unprofessional characteristics — featuring inappropriate or unprofessional language — this could dissuade an employer from interviewing them.
For this reason, if your personal email address is explicit or inappropriate in some way, it’s important that you create and utilize a different one. Doing so should be relatively pain-free — click here to make a new Gmail — and you’ll like the benefit of having a separate mailbox for professional communications.
4. Answer Calls Cheerfully and Professionally
Aside from online form submissions, phone calls are usually the first step in any organization’s hiring process. These calls give them an opportunity to probe a candidate’s interests, career goals and talents and, most importantly, measure their fit.
Following each candidate conversation, job recruiters make decisions on how to proceed. For this reason, your first video “screening” (as it’s often referred to) couldn’t be more crucial to the success of your job search.
Make sure that you answer every call with an energetic voice, a good attitude and a professional greeting. Limit distractions during these calls and, if possible pick a quiet and calm environment.
Although a recruiter can’t see your body language, there’s plenty of information to gather based on your tone of voice and excitement level. As such, to secure that interview you’re looking to ace, it’s important that you present your best self over the phone.
How to Prepare For a Job Interview
Once you’ve done the appropriate housekeeping work (updated your resume, email address, social media accounts and voicemail message) the real fun begins; it’s time to ace your interviews.
Though there are plenty of things you can do to prepare, and your own process may change over time, here are four of the most crucial activities most successful job candidates prioritize in anticipation of their interview — whether in-person or virtual:
- Research the company you’ll be meeting with.
- Reread the original job description.
- Prepare questions to ask your interviewer(s)
- Practice answering common interview questions.
1. Research The Company You’ll Be Meeting With
Every company is different so it’s important that you familiarize yourself with the product/service offerings, values and history of each prospective employer before your initial meeting. This knowledge, which can usually be found on their website and social media pages, will play to your advantage when your interview roles around.
Not only will these understandings help you confidently answer questions like, “why does working at (insert company name) interest you”, but you’ll find that taking an interest in the company you’re interviewing for will translate enhance their intrigue toward you.
From an interviewer’s perspective, knowing that the candidate in front of you clearly did their research indicates a few of things:
- This person is really interested in the position they’re applying for.
- This person cares and took time to prepare for this interview — which is more of a differentiator than many realize.
- If offered this position, it’s likely that this person would take pride in their work and fit corporate values well.
Even if this last point may seem like a stretch, you’d be surprised at the correlation between prepared job candidates and high-performing employees. For this reason, it’s crucial that you research each and every company you interview for. Show them you’re interested and, who knows, they may return the favor.
2. Reread The Original Job Description
Prior to your interview date and time, you may find it beneficial to refresh your memory on the description of the position you applied for and each of the things this employer is looking for in their new hire.
Comprehensively understanding the duties of your prospective role will help you present your “case” and sell your expertise in alignment with what they’re seeking.
Read through the original job description — the description that prompted your application — and note the areas where you’ll provide the most value.
Practice communicating these value points using anecdotes and examples. And, if there are sections of the job summary that don’t align with your skillset at the moment, rehearse how you’ll respond should your interviewer inquire about them.
Most importantly, though, as you read through it highlight the sections/sentences that drew you to apply. Find the answer to this simple question, “What about this job intrigued you most?” and you’ll be one step closer to acing your interview.
3. Prepare Questions to Ask Your Interviewer(s)
Once you’ve researched the company you’ll be meeting with and have a firm understanding of the job you’ve applied for, use this knowledge to prepare well-thought-out questions for each interviewer.
In pursuit of their ideal employee, companies value candidates that come prepared with thoughtful questions to ask. A wide range of question types will be acceptable here, but here are some general categories to frame queries within:
- Ask about their experience working for this company
- What have they enjoyed most?
- What has been most challenging?
- What sets this company apart from others?
- Ask about various aspects of the job you’d be occupying
- Who will you report to?
- What kind of supervision will be provided?
- How would you describe your management style?
- Ask about job-specific performance metrics
- What does success look like in this position?
- What are the largest barriers to success in this job?
- What are the largest challenges you’re hoping this position to help your organization overcome?
Asking questions of your interviewer(s) is crucial to acing your interview. Doing so will help you dig deeper and discern whether each company will fit your needs. And, though the queries above are a great starting point you’ll want to cater yours to each situation.
The best advice we can give you about formulating questions is this: dig deep, think about the things you’ll need to know in order to ensure this job will fit you best.
Sure, asking appropriate questions is attractive to interviewers. But, in the end, doing so is meant to help you make the best decision possible.
4. Practice Answering Common Interview Questions
Of the preparation tactics on this list, this one is often the most difficult. Predicting what your interviewer will ask you during your meeting is impossible.
But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare, simply that you won’t want to become reliant on answering a fixed list of queries and nothing else.
What if your interview goes off script? What if you’re asked a question you didn’t anticipate? In this situation — a situation that’s likely to occur — rehearsing answers to “common” interview questions could come back to haunt you.
Instead, we recommend that you think about your answers categorically, not individually. Practice responding to skills-related queries like “what are your areas of weakness?” by contemplating your strengths and thinking of areas where you’ve struggled.
Practice answering questions that relate to the position at hand by studying the job description and thinking about ways its contents mirror your past experience. And, perhaps most importantly, come prepared to talk about yourself on a personal level.
Questions like, “What do you enjoy doing professionally and personally?”, “What motivates you?” and “What do you value in a workplace, friendship and/or ally?” are bound to arise as an employer strives to measure your fit.
Think broadly about how you’ll answer an array of questions and you’ll be far more comfortable in your interview than had you memorized answers to the most common ones.
Prospective employers are simply looking to measure your skillset and get to know you personally so they can ensure the most healthy fit for all parties. Help them do so, not by memorizing or rehearsing but by understanding how your experience and value relate to each position.
Tips To Utilize During Your Next Interview
The time has arrived; you’ve secured yourself an interview. All of the hard work you put into your job search is about to pay off — as long as you ace this thing, that is.
Don’t worry, doing well in an interview is only difficult if you make it so. Nerves and a healthy portion of palm sweat are to be expected, but it’s important that you don’t put too much weight into what will amount to 30-60 minutes of your life.
Think about it: in the grand scheme of things, will this job interview really matter? When you’re looking back on the most momentous moments of your life, will this interview crack the top 100?
In all likelihood, “no” is the answer to these questions. So, don’t sweat it.
As long as you do the following things, you’ll be able to walk away from this experience with pride at putting your best self out there and giving it your all.
- Dress professionally
- Be respectful and confident
- Take notes whenever necessary
- Speak positively, watch the negative language
1. Dress Professionally
There's a reason people throw around the phrase “dress for success” and it’s not just because rhyming is good fun. No, the way you present yourself — particularly in the business world — is an outward sign of respect for others and a projection of your personality at a glance.
When it comes to interviewing for a job, dressing professionally is important. As a general rule, it’s always best to confirm the dress code with your employer before you show up to interview. Is this a casual work environment making a collared shirt and jeans enough? Or, is formal attire more appropriate?
Make sure to match your outfit to the dress code of each place you interview. Dress for the job you’re hoping to receive and, when in doubt, overdressing is always your best bet.
2. Be Respectful and Confident
Although dressing appropriately is crucial to putting your best foot forward and, in turn, acing your interview, the way you carry yourself and interact with your interviewer is even more important.
Bringing on a new hire is a significant investment for every company. Adding a new salary, providing a new pool of benefits and spending the time to train them isn’t cheap. For this reason, employers are highly motivated to make the right hiring decisions.
Let’s make sure they choose you.
Carry yourself with confidence, interact appropriately and show each interviewer the respect they deserve.
Here are some tips for conducting yourself during an interview:
- Stay off your phone from the moment you enter the building until you leave.
- Stand up when your interviewer(s) enter the room.
- Offer a firm handshake (don’t be afraid to wipe off sweat by grasping your sleeve).
- Maintain good posture and eye contact.
- Don’t slouch, keep arms uncrossed, etc.
- Smile and speak clearly, watch the use of slang.
- Be conscious of nervous body movements (a shaking leg or foot) as these can distract from you answers.
All in all, the confidence you project and the respect you show each of your interviewers is what matters. Everyone gets nervous. A sweaty handshake or a twitchy leg won’t make or break your interview. Focus on preparation, clear communication and carrying yourself well, everything else will follow.
3. Take Notes Whenever Necessary
This third interview tip is one that many people overlook. You see, the most important thing in the questioning phase of any interview is how well you respond. However, when the nerves set in it’s not uncommon for people to lose track of the conversation, worrying about what they said previously instead of what they’re currently being asked.
In these meetings, all a potential employer wants to do is find out how well you’d fit their company and this job. And your responses, coupled with your attitude, confidence and resume are the only things they have to work with.
If you lose track of a question or forget everything that’s been asked, you could find yourself scrambling to respond to something you don’t fully grasp. As such, consider taking notes throughout your interview. Stay on-task by writing down a few of the points you’ve been solicited to tackle within each question and answer them one by one.
This should help you ensure that every answer you give directly relates to the questions at hand, giving your employer a well-rounded view of your knowledge base and level of fit.
4. Try to Speak Positively Watch Your Use of Negative Language
The final tip you should employ during your interview is this: watch the use of negative language. Too often, job candidates spend their interviews speaking ill of former employers, blaming others for prior shortcomings and painting themselves in a dampened light using negative language.
Language like “I can’t”, “I won’t” and “I don’t like” can easily be swapped for phrases such as “I can”, “I’d prefer to” and “I like to avoid”. In your interview, you’ll want to stress all the positive things you can do, rather than the shortcomings of past co-workers and bosses.
Try to avoid the use of negative language, flip the script positive instead. Positivity is contagious, spread it in every interview.
What To Do After an Interview?
Once your interview wraps up and you’ve presented your case in the best manner possible, the time has come to set yourself apart. Following up post-interview gives candidates another opportunity to indicate their sincere interest in an opportunity and thank an employer for their time.
You’d be surprised at the profound impact a great follow-up can make on your ability to secure that dream job of yours. That said, many — if not most — candidates fail to get this right.
So here’s what you need to do. . .
Before you leave:
- Thank every interviewer for the time they spent meeting with you.
- Ask about the next steps and projected follow-up timeframes.
- Leave another copy of your resume, coupled with any other relevant content for them to review.
The next day:
- Send a follow-up email to your interviewing company no less than 24 hours after your interview concludes. Be sure to include a friendly salutation and thank them for their time. Express your continued interest in the opportunity, the main takeaway from your interview. Conclude your message by stating that you look forward to speaking again soon.
After your follow-up email is sent, the rest is up to them. Continue to check your email and voicemail inbox as well as the company’s website for additional job openings.
Questions About A Career In Transportation?
Now you have a list of actionable advice to use at various stages of the interview process. With these insights in your corner, we hope finding your next opportunity is pain-free. A great job can do wonderful things for your life, relationships and family, use these tactics to achieve all that you deserve.
Here at ATS, we’re always looking to add great new people to our company. And even if a career in transportation has never been on your radar, we’d love to tell you about the unique advantages this industry provides those working within it.
Check out our Career Success Center for some more information on what to consider in your job hunt. And, whenever you’re ready, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more information on working at ATS. We have open positions at multiple locations across the United States, view them here.