Vested Senior Account Executive Madison Perrott sat down for a Q&A with Talent + Culture Specialist Nikki Barachina to discover tips and best practices to crush your next interview.
What makes a candidate stand out?
I always like to preface with the fact that there is usually someone like me (a recruiter, talent coordinator, hiring manager, etc) manually reviewing inbound resumes as they are submitted into the system. More than anything, having a strong resume with a clean layout is going to go a long way.
For example, Vested had 300+ applicants for our grad program this summer, which meant I only had a few seconds to spend per resume during my initial screening process. It is unlikely that a candidate received an interview if their resume’s content didn’t quickly catch my attention. I don’t necessarily mean that a candidate needs to have a fancy layout or a colorful template; the best way a candidate can ensure that they are being considered for a role is by making sure that relevant experience is front & center. I don’t expect a personalized cover letter, but a strong objective or summary statement is also helpful to highlight specific applicable skills, industry knowledge or expertise.
At the end of the day, I want to be able to tell that a candidate knows why they would be great for a role before I even get on the phone with them for an introductory interview. ”
What can a candidate do to go the extra mile?
I’ve had quite a few candidates recently who have followed up with me on Linkedin after they initially applied. That definitely has motivated me to pull their resume for a second look, and in a couple cases set up an intro call with a candidate I might not have spoken to otherwise. That little bit of extra effort indicates to me that they are interested in the role at Vested, and not just blanket applying to every role that matches their search criteria. A lot of job postings on Linkedin will show the profile of the individual who posted the job, and it never hurts to make an extra connection for your network.
What can a candidate do to prepare for an interview?
Coming prepared for an interview is really important. I understand that a candidate has likely applied to multiple places, and we are probably not the only company where they are interviewing. However, the best thing someone can do is spend a few minutes reading through the company’s website, and ideate questions to ask during the interview specific to the company, team and role.
Also be sure to use the information you gain in each round of interviews to prepare for future conversations. Ask the recruiter during your introductory call if they have any tips about what the hiring managers are looking for, and ask the hiring manager what traits and skills are important to them in the person they hire for the role. Use those tips as talking points in the next round to highlight why you exemplify the characteristics they are searching for.
What can a candidate do during an interview to help secure the opportunity?
Advocate for yourself! Don’t wait for your interviewer to ask probing questions before you provide examples of previous projects, courses, certifications, client work, team leadership, etc. Anyone you speak to will have your resume pulled up to reference your work history, and what we really want to know about are the things you likely weren’t able to fit into a few bullet points.
Yes, talk about your past jobs (or class projects or internships). But more importantly, talk about what you accomplished and learned within the capacity of your previous roles. If you are just starting out after college, or looking to make a career move, the soft skills you developed in seemingly unrelated industries will likely be applicable wherever you go.
For example, were you leading a team and loved the opportunity to mentor junior staff? Did you volunteer to take on a last minute project that far exceeded expectations? Do you love participating in new business pitches or working on the initial strategy for new clients? These are all important factors that add up to the full picture of who you are as a professional, and what you would bring to the table if you were to join our team.
Do you have any suggestions for good questions to ask during an interview?
There are a lot of factors to weigh when looking for a new role. The interview process is as important for candidates in deciding whether a company is a good fit for them, as it is for a company to determine if a candidate is the right addition to their team. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the things that are important to you in a role, team and company (culture, clients, team structure, mentorship, professional development, etc).
As a recruiter, I conduct a lot of interviews and can see right through those stock questions you found on Google. I want to see that you know what you are looking for in your next role, and that you are interested in THIS job because our company aligns with your personal values and goals.
What type of candidate are you looking for?
At the end of the day, I am looking for individuals who will be great additions to our agency and culture. During our interview process we are looking for that combination of hard and soft skills that will hopefully indicate that a candidate will thrive at Vested.
Think you have what it takes to become a Vestie? Check out our open roles and apply here.