Congratulations — you got the interview! A job interview provides employers a terrific opportunity to find the best candidate to fill a job opening. Now it is up to you to prove you are the ideal candidate.
Let’s look at three ways to do this.
1. Proof is in your examples
Questions that interviewers ask to better understand your qualifications are opportunities for you to provide examples of how you delivered results, achieved objectives and solved problems that were both meaningful and measurable. Examples serve as credible proof for most interviewers.
Suppose you were asked about how you work under a deadline. Your example could describe:
- A general statement of the result (quantity and quality) to be delivered and its deadline
- Why achieving it on time/within budget was important (to the employer, team or resident)
- How you went about accomplishing the assignment
- The result you delivered (compared to the expectations)
“During my time with [employer], I was asked to provide market surveys for our properties. The data was to be given to our marketing and development departments for our winter campaign, which gave me six weeks to complete the assignment.
“After familiarizing myself with our properties and amenities, I did the first part of my research online. I used keywords associated with the competitive communities, the features offered, a radius of the locations and similar criteria. Then, I spoke to about a dozen of our newest residents on each property to learn why they chose us, and who else they considered. I also spoke with about 15 prospects from each property who chose not to lease with us, to learn where they chose and why.
“I narrowed in on the top four competitors for each property and shopped them, learning how they positioned their apartment homes. I beat my deadline by three days. When I delivered the market survey, the VP of Marketing emailed the entire company, stating that it was the most thorough information she had seen on the portfolio.”
2. Proof is in your documents
In the previous example of the completed market survey, the commendation from the VP of Marketing would be an effective proof document.
Effective proof documents are ones such as letters of recommendation or commendation that bear the author’s original ink signature, certificates of award or achievement or published blogs and articles. They should be original documents on the issuer’s letterhead, stationary or form. A best practice is to use a three-ring portfolio equipped with clear plastic sleeves into which original proof documents can be placed. It would serve you well to arrange your awards in such a manner that displays your organizational skills. For example, they can be arranged chronologically, or by category. View every possible interaction as an opportunity to push yourself to the top spot.
During an interview, proof documents can be briefly shown at appropriate times, directing the interviewer’s attention to the appropriate section of the document. Show the original and indicate you will give them a copy at the end of the interview. Make sure you have a supply of high-quality photocopies for each proof document to leave behind.
Only include those documents that are excellent samples of correct, complete and high-quality work. Verify that all spelling, grammar and punctuation is correct.
3. Proof is in your references
A job search best practice is to assemble a pool of a dozen or more credible individuals who can attest to your work, talents, capabilities, soft skills and character. These can be former supervisors, respected community and business leaders, and other individuals who know you well (but not family members).
Ask for letters of recommendation from each reference on their organization’s letterhead. When a prospective employer asks for references, select the top four who can provide information most relevant for the position you are applying.
An example would be if you are going for a position as a Property Manager, focus on references from your previous Regionals who can attest to your skills, reaching property goals and managing teams. These types of references have a much louder voice than, say, a Property Manager you worked under at the start of your career as a Leasing Professional.
Reach out to each reference you plan on providing, and ask if he or she is still comfortable being a reference for you. If yes, tell him or her a bit about the job and the specific qualities the employer is seeking. Ask to be notified when the employer contacts him or her.
Bottom line: Compelling proof convinces employers you can perform the job effectively because you’ve done it successfully in the past.