7 Steps for Converting Applications to Interviews

job applicationRecently my daughter and I were shopping for shoes when I overheard her tell the store owner that I helped new graduates find jobs. As he walked towards me, I instantly knew what was coming, another employer telling me how hard it was to hire qualified employees. The only conversation I hear more often is new graduates telling me that employers do not want to hire them.

Remembering how much I appreciate the owner’s commitment to quality and customer service, I felt obliged to listen. As he began telling me his horror stories of trying to find qualified candidates, I reflected on the fact that more than 90% of workers in the US work for small businesses much like the one he has successfully run for the last 10 years. In one of those “aha moments”, I realized this conversation was going to be more than providing a sympathetic ear— it was an opportunity to make sure I was giving my clients the advice they needed to secure jobs in small businesses.

As he talked about people who came in to pick up applications dressed in cutoffs and T-shirts, sipping a drink, and chatting with a friend, I wondered how many of the graduates I work with realize they are making that all-important first impression when they pick up an application—not when they are dropping it off or interviewing.

Requesting an application/inquiring about an opening is the first step in securing a job offer. These steps will help you make that job-winning first impression:

  1. Know what the company does and how they refer to their employees. If you go to Starbucks don’t ask “are you hiring?” instead ask “are you hiring Baristas?”
  2. Dress as you would if you had the job.
  3. Go by yourself.
  4. Be polite to everyone you meet (customers and staff). Be sure to smile and say please and thank you.
  5. Ask if there is anything you need to know about the application processes and who you should give it to when you have completed it.
  6. Be prepared to complete the application on site; bring a pen, a copy of your resume, know your social security number, and the contact information for three references.
  7. After you have picked up/completed the application leave; this is not the time to hang out and chat with the employees.

Following these steps will help secure your spot in the interview process. Good luck!

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