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Ask Aerotek: Five Tips to Showcase Your Skills in an Interview

You’ve landed an interview for a position that’s made for you. It meets all of your requirements and from what you can tell, you have all the skills and qualities the employer is seeking. Now, how do you convince the recruiter and hiring manager that you’re the perfect one for the job? 

We asked our recruiters to weigh in on how candidates can demonstrate they actually have the skills listed on their resumes. Here’s the inside scoop on ways you can stand out:

1. Come prepared to share details

It’s one thing to list your skills on a resume; it’s another to be able to explain exactly what you’ve done with them. 

“When a candidate elaborates on their skills and experience using industry buzz words and mentioning languages and tools they used to complete a project, I can feel confident that they know what they’re talking about,” says Aerotek Recruiter, Claire Krieger. She urges candidates to keep their responses substantive. 

“Be straightforward and stay away from vague, superfluous words and phrases that sound like you’re trying to make up for the fact that you don’t have an in depth knowledge of the subject matter. 

2. Share your portfolio

If you work in an industry such as engineering, construction, design or project management, bringing examples of your work can go a long way toward showcasing your skills, says Professional Recruiter Lead Jackie Ross. 

While a hard copy portfolio is a great tool for an interview, an online portfolio is also important in today’s high tech business world. The best strategy? Have both types of portfolios on hand. Need some inspiration? Try Contently.com, Crevado or Carbonmade for guidelines on creating an online portfolio. For help creating a hard copy portfolio, visit Manifest Your Potential or check out this step-by-step outline in the Houston Chronicle.

3. Choose references wisely

Strong references are a crucial part of the hiring process. Make sure to choose professional contacts and managers who really know you and your work, are able to speak about it in some detail and have genuinely good things to share about you. Senior Professional Recruiter Matt Wiehe places great importance on what he learns from references.

“After I’ve completed the other parts of the interview process, I call references to confirm or deny what the candidate told me about him or herself. In my reference checks, I really dig in and ask detailed questions. A reference can mean the difference between a job offer and a rejection,” says Wiehe.

4. Prepare to be tested

Depending upon your industry, recruiters may ask you to be tested to confirm your skill proficiency. In fact, testing has become a common hiring tool. According to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, writing for the Harvard Business Review, “Seventy-six percent of organizations with more than 100 employees use tests for external hiring.”

What types of tests are typically administered? Chamorro-Premuzic places the majority of employment tests in three categories: competence, work ethic and emotional intelligence. Some recruiters will also administer tests to assess more specific skills. For example, Wiehe often uses testing to assess candidates’ skills in Excel, blueprint reading and customer service. In addition to providing information on each candidate’s level of proficiency, Wiehe also uses tests to compare candidates with one and other. 

If possible, find out what tests will be administered in advance so that you can do some preparation. 

“It’s estimated that up to half of employment candidates engage in some sort of preparation,” says Chamorro-Premuzic. “And for good reason: It’s not uncommon for people to increase their aptitude test scores by about 20 percent through practice.” Chamorro-Premuzic recommends that candidates who wish to improve their verbal, numerical and logic skills refer to the GRE test prep book. Resources to prepare for psychological tests, situational judgment examinations and other types of assessments, are generally available online. 

5. Use the STAR Method

Ross prepares candidates for interviews by teaching them to use the Star (Situation-Task-Action-Result) response method. 

Here’s how it works: The candidate tells the interviewer about the professional situation that needed to be addressed, describes the actions she took to address it and explains how her actions remedied the situation.  

“Responding to interview questions using the STAR method ensures that candidates will provide all of the information the interviewer needs to assess the candidate’s abilities,” says Ross. 

Aerotek recruiter panelists, Claire Krieger, Kate Keller, Jackie Ross, Dana Sheehan and Matt Wiehe contributed to this article.

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