Always think of the bigger picture when you are in job search mode. Rather than focus on one particular job posting at a time, keep your eyes open, so you don’t miss other opportunities. Continuously expanding your horizon allows you to meet valuable contacts, learn about new companies, and identify new industry trends. With this mindset, enter your next interview open to the possibility of expanding your network. Here are three networking-at-the-interview opportunities to consider.
Why not get to know fellow candidates that you meet in the lobby at an interview? You share a common career goal and most likely a very similar background. Yes, they may be your competition today, but tomorrow they could be someone who recommends you for a job or hires you. Like any networking situation, this is not about drilling someone for information. It is about being open to getting to know someone with whom you may interact down the road.
Often in a later stage of the interview process, you will be given a chance to job shadow. You want to make a strong impression while in the work group so you have a better chance at the job opportunity. It is also important to form relationships with the work group as you may run into these individuals again at industry conferences and other events. Building rapport should be a natural part of the job shadowing process. Don’t push too hard or be distracted from the actual job shadowing activities.
Many candidates interview for a particular job at a company and don’t get selected, but, later they are called for another job at that same company. Often hiring managers will keep track of a candidate that they like, even if they were not a perfect fit for that initial job. Sometimes a manager will call a candidate a year or more later. Or, they may suggest the candidate to a peer at another company where the candidate may be a better fit. The lesson here is to be gracious. If you see the interview is a dead-end, don’t burn the bridge with the interviewer.
Just because you are at the interview does not mean that you deactivate your networking radar. Always be open to new professional relationships. In your city and within your industry, you will encounter people time and again. We are all connected, so take the time to develop relationships and make positive impressions that may lead to productive relationships.
Debra Wheatman, CPRW, CPCC is President of Careers Done Write, a premier career services provider focused on developing highly personalized career roadmaps for senior leaders and executives across all verticals and industries.