I admit, as someone who changed majors three times in college (undecided, chemical engineering—I am as surprised as you are—and marketing), this is a tough one. Very few people know exactly what they’d like to do career-wise, but you should at least be able to tell the recruiter what responsibilities you’ve enjoyed on past jobs. For instance:
“I’m a very competitive person and I love meeting sales goals. I also like to teach others what I’ve learned and help them advance in their careers. I’m the type of person who needs to be busy throughout the day and I love solving problems. It’s great to turn unhappy customers around.”
When asked about the responsibilities you would like to have when you come to work every day, “Anything you need me to do” is not a good answer.
Why not? Once again, it doesn’t give the recruiter any detail to help determine if the job she has to offer would be a good fit. It also sends the message that you would take any job that came your way and you’re just marking time until something better comes along. If that’s the case, you’ll cost that company a lot in training, benefits and time.
Long-winded candidates can talk themselves right out of the job. If you’ve hit all the points of the S.TAR method (see It Might Be You-Part 2) go ahead and wrap up your answer. The key is to be engaging without rambling or sharing questionable information. Don’t get me wrong, as a writer, I love a great story. Just make sure you share it only if it naturally fits into the conversation and only if it’s appropriate. If in doubt, leave it out.
Q & A
Make a list of questions to ask the recruiter. You don’t know everything about the job even if you think you do. Ask about dress code, benefits, timeframe to advance, opportunities to advance, mandatory relocation or anything else that might be of interest. Having no questions makes us feel you aren’t really interested.
Ask for the job
This does not mean, “Please give me this job!”. Reiterate the reasons you feel you’re the best fit or ask about the next steps. If you’re brave enough, ask the recruiter if there is anything that would prevent her from recommending you for the next interview. But also be prepared to hear the answer.
Do not: bash previous employers, chew gum—or mints, use foul language (including cursing or distasteful words/phrases like crap, screwing over, etc.) or answer your cell phone—which should be on silent or vibrate, by the way—during the interview. Trust me, it has happened.
It’s always a good idea to send a polite thank you by email or snail mail if you receive a rejection letter. Who knows, another job could open up that would be a perfect fit and you want the recruiter to remember you. Just last week I called a candidate who had made a great impression on me when she applied for another position that we ended up filling internally. I thought she would make a great fit for a new opportunity. Turns out I was right and she starts this week.
Now that you have your game plan, let’s go for that career!