Home > Uncategorized > Pulling off an A+ Interview

Pulling off an A+ Interview

The canvassing process is the most important fundamental step in the job hunt process. What do I mean by canvassing? In simple terms, canvassing is your opportunity to “cast your net” and create a buzz around your professional experience and brand that might qualify you as a potentially valuable employee to an organization. I’ve talked with a couple of my peers who are also looking for jobs right now and the same mantra keeps coming up in every conversation: “It’s all about who you know.” When it comes to finding a job, especially when the economy is in the tank, someone can easily apply for 10-15 jobs a week and never hear back from an employer. That’s why a personal introduction or a direct contact is the most valuable thing anyone can have. For every 100 people that you talk to or email or send your resume to whether they are family or friends or third cousins, it only takes one person to provide the kind of leads that you need to lock down a job and when you are as deep in the job game as I have been the last few weeks, that one person can be the one beacon of light amidst job search darkness.

Assuming you find that person or a few people that are in a networking position to mention you to an employer, the next step down the line is initial contact and continues to work for me is an email that goes something like this:


My name is Kris Houston and I was given your information by one of my job hunt mentors, Bob Bobawitz, who mentioned you as a valuable resource for a student preparing to graduate this Wednesday from the University of Oregon and actively pursuing job opportunities in the Portland area. I was hoping you might be available sometime next week to meet for an informational interview.  I’ve attached a copy of my resume and look forward to possibly chatting with you sometime next week.

Thank you for your time,



I’ve found that keeping an initial email short and providing the contact some time to plan a possible meeting, putting them in control of the execution of the meeting step of the process is not only respectful, but tends to yield the quickest and most positive results. Providing an attached resume allows them to pass your information on to other professionals that might be in more of a position to hire and also gives them to check out some of your work experience before responding to your request (so make sure your resume is spotless).

What’s the next step after the initial email? You wait for a response. As a general rule, I don’t email or contact the person until after waiting a week to a week and a half. Once you’ve heard from them, it’s time to schedule a meeting which can be the trickiest step if you are working with several different people and you are coming in from out of town to schedule a lot of face time in a short period of time.

Once the meetings are set up, research the contact, the company and the job. Don’t go into a meeting or interview empty handed, especially since these busy professionals are taking time out of their day to meet with you. Think long and hard about how you can mold your experience into a valuable package that would be difficult for any potential employer to deny.

Next comes the meeting where all of your hard work and research should pay off. One thing that a lot of young professionals haven’t learned to do is control the formality of the meeting. The ability to communicate casually and professionally is a skill that is admired by every professional or potential employer, so you should approach interviews with the understanding that the most important question that they have in the back of their mind is “would I enjoy working with this person.” Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through as long as it’s appropriate.

The next step towards the end of the meeting is to provide them with some sort of “leave behind.” I’ve found that very few interviewers in the communications field ask that you whip out a physical portfolio of your work during the interview, but leaving behind a copy of your resume (on nice paper) and possibly a copy of 1 or 2 of your best pieces of work is always appreciated.

The final piece of the job hunt process is the follow-up. Once again, this step is often neglected by many entry-level hopefuls, especially when they are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people that they are in contact with everyday, so those individuals that do send a thank you note definitely stand out. Some people would recommend sending a handwritten thank you note, but with the increase in the speed of communication and business world, snail mail isn’t always the most practical choice, so an email is often the easiest and most appropriate way to follow-up. Thank them for their time, recap what you talked about in the interview, highlight your skills and how you might contribute to the success of the organization and provide contact information incase they are interested.

These steps won’t necessarily guarantee a job instantly, but they will definitely help you stand out and ultimately reach your goal of gainful employment!

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