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Hiring with Heather: Making an Impression

By: Alex Nikotina

Published On: February 11, 2016

It's time for Heather's Hiring Tips! Our Talent Acquisition Specialist, Heather Blanchard, shares her insight on how to impress hiring managers through your application and interviews.

How to Prepare for the Interview

One of the keys to success is having sufficient knowledge of the company you are applying for. “I would recommend researching both the organization and the position,” says Heather. “This way you can find not only what is required of you, but also what the organization stands for: its values, goals, and the position’s objectives as they relate to the bigger picture. This knowledge will also help you to personalize the job: you’ll be able to see how you could contribute to the company goals, and how the experience with the company could contribute to yours.”

“I find that one of the biggest mistakes the candidates make is trying too hard to fit into the job description. The truth is, it is not appealing. It gives an impression that they desperately want the job, and it doesn’t communicate anything about their personality and goals, or what they would find enjoyable in their career.”

According to Heather, successful candidates are usually the ones that can bridge a connection between their aspirations in life and the position that they are applying to, while being able to point out how their personality and skillset would aid to the company’s vision and mission.

What to Do When You Don’t Think You Have All the Necessary Skills

“The best advice I can give is look through the job description carefully: look at the company, at the position and its goals, the daily duties that you need to perform. Then look at your qualifications and ask yourself: do you believe you have the necessary skillset? Do you see yourself working there and taking on the challenge? If the answer is yes, ask yourself how you would be able to aid to the organization, so you can highlight it in your cover letter and during the interview,” shares Heather.


“I believe that you need to evaluate your transferable skills when looking through the job description and requirements. You may not always have direct experiences that the job is asking for, but you can have applicable transferable skills.”

As Heather points out, you should also be able to evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses. If you believe you don’t qualify for the job (for instance, you see a graphic design-heavy position, and you don’t have basic photo editing or Photoshop software knowledge), it is probably not a good idea to apply. However, if you think you have enough skills and experiences to add to the job and you are eager to learn, express your enthusiasm and desire to grow in your application and during the interview.

What to Look at in the Job Description

Heather mentions that looking at the responsibilities section is key, as it often highlights the daily duties and the main tasks you will be performing. “I would strongly suggest looking through your daily tasks carefully. Ask yourself if you are okay with performing them daily and if you will be able to enjoy your workday.”

Many organizations, Ashton College included, focus on creating a healthy work climate where each team is productive and each individual is thriving and achieving his or her goals.

For the organizations that put high value into workers' happiness and satisfaction, the best candidates are motivated individuals who are enthusiastic about what they do, and can both give to and gain from their company. “In my experience, the individual who doesn’t enjoy what he/she does daily is less happy in their in their workplace and less productive as a result. This is disadvantageous for both the individual and the organization,” notes Heather. So when looking through the job description, make sure you are comfortable with the duties that are listed there.

How to Make a Good Impression

The first impressions about the candidates are formed based on their resume and cover letter. “Hiring managers go through many applications for the same position. Most of them are very generic, so it is always impressive to receive cover letters that communicate the candidates’ enthusiasm and personal touch,” says Heather.

Another important tip is to prepare a few questions for the interviewer. “A lot of candidates don’t take advantage of the last part of the interview and don't ask questions, which I think is very unfortunate,” says Heather.

“Successful candidates are often the ones who take their time to interview the employer while the employer is interviewing them. The candidates that ask questions stand out among others, especially if they communicate their interest in the organization.”

“Through the questions they can find out important things about their daily duties, the company’s work environment, management style, or anything that can tell them more about their line of work. “Asking the interviewer what they like about working in the organization, for example, can be a good way to find out about the work environment and form a more personal connection with the interviewer.”

Another important tip is the dress code: dress professionally! “It is always better to overdress in business attire than underdress,” shares Heather. “If you overdress, you still appear professional, while when you underdress, you automatically miss the mark.”

If you want to read more hiring tips with Heather, read about the hiring process from an employer's point of view, and her insight on what it's like to recruit, interview, and hire remote employees.


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