Our ongoing “Meet Me in 5” series covers 5 people, topics or questions to illustrate how Covance nurtures exceptional people, provides an energizing purpose and enables extraordinary potential in its employees’ careers.
Following up on our earlier article in this two-part career series, we spoke with five recruiters at Covance and asked them to each share one tip on how to stand out as a strong candidate in today’s job market. They gave their insider’s view on their process and suggestions on how to make a great impression once you’ve applied to a position.
1. The importance of the screening call
Ivy, Covance, China
For both the interviewee and interviewer, a phone screening can be difficult because we cannot read body language and facial expressions. However, you can make a good impression by being fully prepared, providing concrete answers, discussing your motivations and being a good listener.
For example, be ready to answer questions about your educational background and current or recent positions. Some typical conversations start with “tell me a little about yourself,” and “discuss your responsibilities in your current role.” If you have any distinctive areas on your resume such as a shift in direction, an extended leave, or frequent job-hopping, it’s important to give honest answers. We know everyone’s career journey is unique and that’s why we invest the time to really get to know you.
The phone screening also helps recruiters evaluate your motivation for the position. You should share what interests you about the company, why you applied for the opportunity and your career goals.
Sharing details about yourself is just as important as listening. Take the time to listen to ensure the organization is a good fit for you and to really understand the role. Also, if you are not clear about a recruiter’s question, don’t make assumptions and please ask them to clarify. Then you can ensure you are giving relevant answers throughout this brief yet important process.
2. Preparing for your interview
When you have reached the stage of getting an extended interview, it's important to find out as much as you can about the job – and the company. Company research is a critical part of interview groundwork as it will help you prepare interview questions and also help you to answer questions, which show the interviewer that you did your “homework.”
I suggest checking out the company website and finding their “About Us” page. This will give you a sense of how the company compares to its competitors in the industry and if the company culture is a good fit for you. Your research can also include asking someone in your network that works at the company to provide their feedback.
As part of your preparation, I suggest taking the time to analyze your potential position. Review the job description and make a list of the skills, knowledge, professional and personal qualities that are required. Come prepared to answer questions that involve a combination of resume-based, behavioral and technical questions.
I’d encourage those interviewing to practice answering questions and telling your story in the best possible way. Make sure you develop a question list and prepare to ask your interviewer about the organization and the position based on your research.
3. An interview as a collaborative discussion
I always tell candidates interviews are a two-way process. At Covance, we want our interviews to be a collaborative discussion. It’s important to showcase your talent as an individual, but it is equally as important to get what you need from the discussion too.
I actively encourage candidates to ask questions throughout the recruitment and selection process. Employers should welcome curiosity from candidates as it demonstrates confidence and an enquiring mind.
It is good to ask about team structure, career development, reporting lines and what realistic expectations they have for you in the role for the first year. You should also feel comfortable to ask some general questions about the working environment.
This meeting represents the employer’s opportunity to show you how their organization stands out and potentially give you a tour. Work-life balance is key in today’s society, so you can also ask about options for flexible working, parking access, travel opportunities and team-building and social events that bring employees together.
4. Try, try again and be persistent
If you’ve received a rejection after interviewing for your dream job, consider it an opportunity to learn. There might be various reasons at play – you might not fit the requirements for this particular role, but that does not mean the door is closed. The company might have future openings that would be more suitable for you.
Start by checking with the recruiter to see if they can offer interview feedback. You may also want to reiterate your interest for the company and stay in touch with the recruiter or hiring manager.
If you see similar openings you are interested in, be proactive and chat with the recruiter to see if this role is better aligned to your skill set. If some time has passed since your last interview, you may also highlight any additional knowledge, skills or responsibilities you have recently acquired to help the recruiter determine if you are a good match for the position.
5. Find a company where you can grow
When interviewing with various companies, you may find that many employers all have a compelling reason to join their company. My advice is to seek a company you believe in and that can help you grow your career.
At Covance, we enable and encourage every employee to develop their careers in the direction they want to grow. Many people at Covance, myself included, have had the opportunity to move their careers into different areas and gain leadership experiences, thanks to managers that mentor, motivate and empower us to reach our full potential. By giving employees the flexibility to explore new ideas, we help them add value and let their teams work smarter, not harder.
That’s why I stress it is important to join a company that excites you. When you are in the interview process, you should get a sense of the people you may be working with and the potential learning opportunities. This will help you determine if the company will support your growth trajectory and make the most of your career.
Ready to explore a new career opportunity at Covance? Learn more at careers.covance.com