5 simple ways to boost your chance of getting a job interview
Getting a job interview is often hard. The good news is, it can be easier!
I’ve learned much over the years from the perspective of a job seeker, an employer, an entrepreneur, a semi-pro recruiter. I will share with you 5 simple ways to immediately increase your chance of getting a job interview.
There are many articles online giving advice on how to get a job interview. Some may tell you it’s a numbers game, that you need to apply to hundreds of jobs just to get one or two interviews. Sure, they are somewhat correct.
Having been a young job seeker, trying to get a job without success myself, then worked my way through in my career to become a small business owner, an entrepreneur, having to hire a number of employees.
And now, my job is to help other business owners to find and hire employees. It’s almost like a recruiter job, but I’m not a recruiter. I do the work that is almost like a recruiter’s job, but I’m doing this to build traffic for our job site - SpareStaff, not to charge the employers a fee when I help them make a hire.
Let's look at what I’ve learned through these experiences.
1 – Do a walk-in interview
Of course, the most certain way of getting an interview is to do a walk-in interview. You’ll get an interview with this.
In case you’re asking “What is Walk-in Interview???”, it simply means you can just walk to the employer place, at anytime within the day and time that the employer has specified, the on-duty manager will be there to give you a quick interview on the spot!
And No, an appointment is not needed. It’s the same as how you would do walk-in to a supermarket, you don’t need to call them up before coming in to say you’re going there to buy some groceries. Just walk-in, just go there already. Don’t even ask.
If you are the right candidate, you may get a trial shift, or a job offer on the spot.
It’s an online-offline experience, bringing back some of the conventional, personal-touch connection between employers and job seekers. It helps the employers hire faster. The fact that you’ve done a walk-in to their place, shows that you are motivated enough to go there for an interview. This has already given you a huge advantage over other candidates.
Many employers are already willing to take walk-in interviews. Many of them have said that they prefer face-to-face meeting for a personal introduction. Not every employer is fond of reading a text-only application. Many of them do not have time to review resumes everyday either.
Many cafe, restaurants, retail stores, even big restaurant or hotel chains are willing to take walk-in interviews. There are sales, marketing, tradies, labourer, telecommunications and IT jobs too.
Yet, a lot of job seekers are hesitant to do walk-in interview. The Internet has made it super easy to apply to hundreds of jobs online. So, why bother walking to the employer’s place not knowing for sure you’ll get the job or not? Yes you’re absolutely correct. And 98% of other job seekers are also thinking the exact same thing as you, so if you can be the 2%, you have already stood out!
I’m not asking you to stop applying online though, next time you are hanging out, do a walk-in and take your chance.
In fact, our job board lists all Walk-in Interview jobs with date, time instructions and map view for you to try. Many of these jobs are in popular areas, such as Sydney metro or Melbourne city areas, where you will be around anyway, chance is you'll pass by some places that take walk-in interviews.
If you get the interview, you may win a job that could pay your whole year's living expenses. If not, you’ve only lost 10 minutes of your spare time.
I remember, a couple of times, some good candidates walked to my shop asking for a job. I would have hired them on the spot, or at least gave them a trial shift if I was hiring. It was unfortunate that we had no vacancy at the time. It was just bad timing.
I wished there was a way for those guys to find out that I was hiring and they would have come in at the right time. We live in a world where people seem to be more online-connected to each other but seemingly humanly-disconnected from each other. Walk-in interviews are the perfect way to bring an online experience to offline, and add the human touch to it. I hope more employers and job seekers will do this.
And, by the way, our team has hired the very first web developer who did a walk-in interview with us.
We advertised a Full-stack Web Developer role online, with clear instructions for walk-interview (7 days a week). Apparently he read the job ad very carefully and believed that he was suitable for the role. He applied, did the walk-in interview 2 days after.
Out of 53 applicants, he was the only person who was motivated enough to do that. The only person! He took his chances, even though it took him an hour of public transport to our place. He did it. The interview went well and he joined our team a week later.
I’ve heard and known about the self-elimination job interview process. In fact, I have tried it in the past, many years ago, but it was over the phone through voicemail. This was the first time I’ve tried self-elimination interview process again and it worked well for us.
To be honest, I was nervous at first about the walk-in interview. I had no idea who would turn up, or how many would bother coming in. What if too many unsuitable ones come in? What if too many candidates would come in, what would I do? I was afraid that I would need to reject a lot of unqualified applicants.
Guess what happened, no one turned up for the first few weeks. Many candidates were close to our place. But none of them turned up. Perhaps they thought they were not a good fit, or they were just not passionate enough about the job. The one who turned up, the only one, truly believed that he was the right person.
There was actually another candidate who wanted to do walk-in interview. But she was not in Sydney at the time, so she asked for a Zoom interview, which we did. She was also a good fit. Eventually she had an offer elsewhere and rejected our offer. But it also showed that she was motivated enough and strongly believed that she was the right fit. So it ended well and we would keep in touch with her for future opportunities.
It’s almost impossible to know a person well just by reading lines of text on their resume. But you would know much more about the person when you talk to them face-to-face. It’s the human connection that has been missing with looking for jobs online. An employer may think that he would get flooded with unsuitable candidates if he accepts walk-in interviews. But what could happen is that, only the most motivated candidates, the good ones, would actually show up.
However, I must say that this was my own experience only. I have heard some different stories from other employers who had walk-in interviews. One said she was not available at the time candidates came in. This wasn’t the job seeker’s fault though, the hirer should have managed her schedule better for walk-in interviews . One said he hadn’t had any walk-in interviews (during the first week). Some employers found great candidates who did walk-in interviews. Some had to reject candidates.
2 – Make yourself available – answer your phone, SMS, voicemail, and email
This one should be obvious, yet many job seekers are not doing this. If you are going to spend hours, days, weeks hunting for jobs, then make yourself contactable by all kinds of ways: phone call, SMS, email; especially by email.
It surprises me how many job seekers didn’t pick up their phone or reply to emails. I called applicants for an interview, no answer. I emailed them, no reply. And sometimes, no reply to SMS either. Then, a few days or weeks later, I got a reply with an apology. It’s too late!!! Businesses have to keep the ball rolling. The train is going to leave regardless if you’re ready or not.
And, it creates an impression that you’re not reliable, or you didn’t care. Even though, you probably just didn’t check your voicemail, or the email got mixed up in hundreds of other emails.
At first, I thought the applicants were just unreliable, or not passionate enough about the role, or maybe they had a job offer elsewhere. But then, I realized it was not the problem with the candidates.
Why? Because, businesses work primarily with written communication, via emails. Business owners, hiring managers, company officers all use email as their preferred communication method. They are required to do so. However, job seekers don’t always use email, especially for the under 25.
For young people under 25 years old, email is dead! They communicate via WhatsApp, Facebook. Phone calls or SMS are outdated and hard to track. We often don’t answer phone calls from unknown numbers. This is also true for businesses. We’re so sick of getting sales calls, spam SMS that we don’t even want to answer the phone anymore. Our emails are full of newsletters and spam. Voicemail is also outdated. I myself only check voicemail once in a while, maybe once a week if I remember to.
As you see, there is a gap there. The hiring manager prefers emailing, or calling if they can’t reach candidates via email. While at the other end, the job seekers don’t read emails often, they prefer Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp; phone calls, voicemail are easily missed.
It’s neither side’s fault, it’s just that they are not communicating using the same tools.
So, if you’re going to look for jobs, stay in job hunting mode, then I recommend you to regularly check your emails, going through all emails including Junk and Spam folder, answer phone calls from unknown numbers, and regularly check your voicemail, messages. At least until your job hunting is over.
I’ve learned this lesson a number of years ago. Throughout the years of building my own business, I’ve heard a number of times that customers told me they called a few companies before me, but no one answered their phone. I happened to win that sale not because I was a good salesman, simply because I was the first one the customer could get hold of. At that moment, I realized that simply by answering the phone as quickly as I can, replying to email enquiries as soon as I can, having a phone system that can takes multiple incoming calls, I could increase our conversion rate by a significant amount.
In our shop, I put notices on the door, tables that read "Missed phone calls - Missed sales - Losing our jobs" so that every employee knows how important it is. I'd answer phone calls so fast that customers often asked "Am I talking to a human or a machine". They thought it was the answering machine!
It’s dead simple. If you’re going to get an email or a phone, spend the extra time to go through your emails and phone calls, replying to messages promptly, you’ll keep winning a lot more sales. I’ve since put policies in my company that all phone calls, email enquiries must be answered promptly to make sure that we’re going to win sales.
And even with the work of building traffic for Spare Staff, by doing recruiter-like jobs helping employers to get workers in, I managed to help fill in many positions just by replying to messages, phone calls as quickly as I could. I wasn’t doing any miracles. The employers were just busy running their businesses, they didn’t have time to talk to candidates regularly. They simply couldn’t. All I had to do was calling, messaging applicants very quickly then got them through.
So, have you called back the last missed call? That missed call from unknown numbers might have been your job interview call. Your interview invitation might be somewhere in your email already and you just didn’t know it. It could be in your Spam folder, check it too. Your voicemail from last week might have been your job interview invitation.
Now we mention about email, you should get a dedicated email for work and for your job hunting. If your personal email is flooded with emails from your parents, friends, Facebook etc, you definitely should sign up for another email account that is dedicated for your work. You don’t need any fancy email account, just a free Gmail one will suffice.
3 – Beware of ATS (Application Tracking System) and keep your resume in simple format
ATS is commonly used by companies. Majority of companies use some sort of ATS to manage their applications.
Unless you’re applying for a job at a small business like mine (less than 10 employees), then the chance is you’re going to face an ATS.
ATS (usually part of a HRM software) is a software/tool that will extract text out of your resume, automatically rate how relevant it is to the job you’re applying for. ATS is a tool that hiring managers use to make their life easier.
We’re living in the era where technology is taking over the world. Software, SaaS tools, cloud-based apps are dominating. No companies are going to rely on printed copies of resumes, not even an Excel spreadsheet, to manage applications anymore. Don’t even think that the hiring manager is some 80-year-old who reads your resume at the other end!
Think of it like this, before you visit a website, you’ll often need to type in a search in Google, for some keywords, then you’ll find the website that you want to read. For that website to be read by you, a human being, the owner of the website had to do some “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization) so that it can be read by Google’s machine, and then, Google will pass the website content to you.
Similarly, before your resume is ready by a human being, it will often need to be processed by a computer software first. The problem is, Google is excellent at reading text from websites, but ATS is nowhere near as good as Google at reading text.
Most job seekers want to have a resume that is creative, stands out from the crowd. This could be great, and I highly recommend you to do so, but use it with caution. Many resume templates on the web are created by people who have no ideas about ATS systems. Some were created in non-standard fonts and the extracted text becomes unreadable.
Resumes that have 2 or 3 columns must be avoided. Resumes are ideally in Word format using standard fonts. You should avoid resumes in PDF format. Avoid using non-standard fonts because ATS systems will not be able to extract text out of it. There are tons of information on the Internet about this that you can do further research on.
As I build traffic for our job board – Spare Staff, I have learned about ATS systems. I have been the owner of my own small company for over 15 years, and I have never heard of ATS systems. Majority of my clients are also small business owners, some of my friends are small business owners, and they have no idea what an ATS system is either.
We never had the luxury of running a medium-large size company, hence we’ve never had to hire hundreds of employees. We’ve never had to use an ATS / HRM system. My brother has been running his own businesses for years. His company has recently grown to large enough to have the need for a HRM system. He was sold to using a HRM system that includes an ATS, and he was gobsmacked when he first used it.
No wonder why job seekers are not aware of ATS systems. I don’t blame them. They never needed one, never aware of it. Neither was I.
If you can just re-write your resume, using standard fonts and format, you will do better than many other candidates out there already.
Another recommendation is: use a proper Word .docx file. If your resume is a photo, not only it cannot be read by ATS systems, it creates an impression that you don’t know how to use Microsoft Word properly. Being able to use the basic Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook programs is almost like the basic requirement now to get a job.
If you can’t afford to purchase Microsoft Office suite, you can get Pages, Numbers apps for free from Apple’s App Store on your Mac computers (if you’re a Mac user). If you’re a Windows user, download and install OpenOffice. It’s a free alternative to Microsoft Office suite that will do a similar job. You can also use Google Doc, Google Sheet for free. Still, I recommend you to purchase the Office suite regardless, or get a monthly subscription for it to practice for a few months then cancel it.
If you’re not sure your resume is ATS-friendly, JobScan provide online tools to help you view how your resume will be viewed by ATS systems. Though, it does not reflect outcome of all ATS systems, it will certainly help.
Our website have a built-in ATS system as well for you to check. After you’ve applied for a job and uploaded your resume, you can see how your resume will look like after it’s processed by our built-in ATS system. The text extracted from your resume will be used to create your online resume (your email, tel will be hidden to protect your privacy). You will find your online resume by clicking on the avatar icon menu, then select Your resume. Find the resume listing that you’ve created then click Preview button. If you can read your online resume, it means most ATS systems will be able to read it.
4 – Write a short summary about yourself, in bullet points, at the very top of your resume, and add a profile photo
You’ve spent hours writing a perfect resume that you’re proud of. But guess what, it may never actually get read.
Think about a time you’ve jumped on a lengthy website, how often will you read every word of it? Hiring managers see so many resumes everyday, they can’t read all resumes, or at least they only skim through resumes. The same goes for you when you look for jobs. You only skim through jobs then apply.
Hence, it’s a good idea to put a quick summary of yourself, highlighting your strengths, in bullet points so that it’s clear and easy to read.
If you have some experience, try this:
- Confident leading a sales team of 3-4 people
- 3 years of experience in Sales at XYZ company
- Managerial experience. Good judgement and decision making in difficult situations
If you’re young and have no experience, focus on your strengths instead, not the facts that you are inexperience:
- Energetic young person with a professional attitude.
- Reliable, punctual.
- Available 7 days a week.
Make sure you hold yourself up to the standards of how you describe yourself. Most hiring managers think of young job seekers as “not reliable”, or “not professional” because they are new to the workforce. You need to make them believe otherwise.
A profile photo will also help you stand out. Hiring managers are often interested in seeing who they’re hiring. It’s almost the norm now that hiring managers will check a candidate’s social media profile to have a “feel” of who the person is. If they are already trying to find your social profiles, why not just make it easier for them.
I’ve seen many hiring managers get excited when they see a candidate’s profile photos, they were like “Wow, they have profile photos!!!”
Having the summary in bullet points and a profile photo will help catch attention immediately. Once the person who reads your resume is quickly impressed, he/she will continue reading the rest.
Indeed has an “online resume” option which formats your resume in a way that looks like everyone else’s. It makes it easier for you to spray and spam-like apply for as many jobs as possible. But at the same time, it reduces your chances of impressing hiring managers, which is far more important than trying to spray at as many job openings as possible.
Using Indeed’s online resume creates an impression that you don’t know how to write a resume properly yourself, such as by using Word or Pages apps to write your own one. Using word processing software is a basic skill that all job seekers should know. Then, you should at least learn to use it and show it by typing your own resume.
An entry-level job will earn you $30,000 - $50,000/year. That's your whole year living expenses, or university tuition fee taken care of. It's no small money. It's worthwhile to spend an hour writing your own resume and try to make it stand out.
Often, people opt for easier ways to do things if given the options. When it comes to applying for jobs, it’s probably not the best to always pick the easier choice. If you are the boss and you’re looking to pay $80k to hire someone, would you pay it to the person who tries harder or one who didn’t want to try as hard? Think twice about always using the easier options. Some companies will gladly accept it, some won’t.
5 – Don’t try moonshot
By “moonshot”, I mean don’t waste your time applying for jobs that you’re likely not going to get. Over the years, I’ve seen candidates hoping for a “moonshot” with their applications.
And, I’m not just talking about jobs that you’re not qualified for. What I mean is, don’t try to apply for jobs that are:
Too far away from your place (unless the job ad says otherwise, or if it’s remote work): Usually 20km is a fair distance that would have put you at a disadvantage compared to many other candidates. 30km-40km is usually a No-No for hiring managers.
Sure, you can say that you don’t mind travelling the distance to work. But most hiring managers would know that the distance will eventually become a huge inconvenience which results in employees leaving the company. You will be at the bottom of the list if you’re too far from the job.
This one should be obvious. Yet, I’ve seen candidates applying for jobs that are 30km-100km+ from their place. This happens in almost all jobs (if not all of them) that I’ve recruited for myself, and in jobs that other employers are hiring for as well.
It blows my mind that overseas candidates are applying for jobs that are meant for locals too. I’m not talking about jobs that require highly skilled workers that employers cannot source from the local market. It is almost impossible that employers would go through the hassle of arranging VISA, paying for flight tickets, accommodation to hire a waiter/ waitress or kitchen hand.
Jobs that you’re not qualified for: Make sure to read the job description before applying, it’ll save you time and increase your chances of getting interviews. If the job description says you need a minimum 3 years of experience in Accounting, and you only have one year experience, it’s probably a good idea to move on to the next job.
Though, if you have 2-2.5 years of Accounting experience, you may get it. But the hiring manager will probably need to run out of options with other candidates before he/she gets to you.
The internet has made it easy to apply for jobs online. Many job seekers are applying for jobs that they are highly unqualified for because they think “it was worth a try”. It only takes a few clicks to do so, hence why not?
The problem is, there are hundreds of others doing the same and it creates a problem for hiring managers at the other end. The hiring manager is often forced to use ATS systems to help them find the few qualified candidates in the hundreds of applications. And ATS systems are nowhere as good as Google at reading text and rating applicants automatically. In results, it makes it harder for qualified candidates to be found, lowering the chances of getting interviews for all candidates.
So, next time when you want to apply for a job that you’re highly unqualified for, think twice before clicking the Apply button.
6 – Bonus tips: Don’t ghost each other
Ghosting has become so common in the recruitment industry these days. Employers are ghosting candidates, and candidates are ghosting employers.
Hiring managers simply cannot reply to all candidates, simply because there are hundreds of applicants. It’s the same that you cannot reply to every single email in your inbox. Though I’m sure that they can do better than that by at least replying to ones who they had contacted first, rather than just leaving those in the dark.
Then, candidates are also ghosting employers in return, as a form of karma. It’s a never-ending loop. If everyone takes the first step of respecting each other, we all would have lived in a much better world. But, this is unlikely to happen any soon.
However, keep this in mind. The employers are the ones paying for their job advertisements. Job seekers don’t pay any fees to apply for jobs. And guess who job sites will favour? Of course, the job sites will favour the paying customers – the employers.
Most reputable online job boards, ATS providers will do what they can to improve the experience for the employers, simply because they paid to advertise their job vacancies. Weeding out bad candidates is one of the many ways to improve experience for their paying customers. They provide built-in tools to flag unqualified candidates, non-responsive candidates. This data is used to rate how a good candidate is to improve experience for other employers who review the same candidates.
If you use well known job boards to apply for jobs and have a track record of ghosting employers, you will more likely be rated as a bad candidate by the systems. It is unknown how the data could be used, but over time, companies will find ways to detect bad online behaviour. It is the same as how Google, and many other websites have evolved over the years to rank websites, rank their users, to promote good ones, and penalize bad ones. And, you won’t know that you are being penalized by Google (if you own a website and want to rank well on Google). Your website slowly will become less and less visible on Google till it disappears from the search completely.
This effect may come slowly because most job sites are not as dominant as Google, their systems are not evolving as fast as Google. But it will eventually get better over time at detecting bad users and penalizing those.
Even if getting penalized is not a problem for you, stopping ghosting the other party is still a good thing to do anyway. Bad online behaviour is easy to get away with, but it should not become a habit of job hunting or hiring.
Getting a job interview is often difficult. There are simple ways to boost your chance of getting an interview immediately:
1. Do a walk-in interview: the almost certain way of getting an interview is to do a walk-in interview. Many employers prefer this over reading a resume document. You can find walk-in interview jobs here.
2. Make yourself available – answer your phone, SMS, voicemail, and email: your interview invitation might already be waiting in your email or voicemail. Check your email including Junk/Spam folder, voicemail. Be available all the time till your job hunting is over.
3. Beware of ATS (Application Tracking System) and keep your resume in simple format: an increasing number of companies are using ATS to assist with their recruitment. Your resume should be in standard font, no foreign font and format, no columns, preferably in Word format, or PDF.
4. Write a short summary about yourself, in bullet points, at the very top of your resume, and add a profile photo: your lengthy resume will not be read unless hiring managers are intrigued by the first impression. A concise, easy-to-read, great introduction will encourage hiring managers to read the rest.
5. Don’t try moonshot: don’t spam-like spray your resume to as many jobs as possible. Avoid jobs that are too far from you, overseas jobs, jobs that you are far from qualified for.
6. Bonus tips: don’t ghost each other. Job boards favour paying customers – the employers. If you have a track records of ghosting employers, eventually the job boards will flag your account.
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About Spare Staff
Spare Staff is Australia’s job site, with much more.
As a job seeker, you can search and apply for jobs that match with your requirements, including jobs that take Walk-in interview. 100% Free.
As an employer, you can post Free job ads and find matched candidates based on location, skills, availability, wage expectation (plus profile photo) at the click of a mouse.