You’ve written your resume, but are you prepared for an interview?

Writing a resume and preparing for an interview are overlapping yet different processes. Don’t assume that your interview preparation is complete because of the many hours you’ve invested in writing your resume. Doing so can result in disconnects in your presentation that undermine your interview success.

Disconnect: I’m the candidate with the best-written resume, so I have an advantage in the interview.

Reconnect: A poorly written resume, with awkward wording, poor organization, spelling mistakes and other weaknesses, can certainly eliminate you from consideration before the interview stage. At the other extreme, a great resume can work to position you high on the short list, not just get you in the door. However, your success in the interview very much depends on the impression you create in the interview itself, not the impression you create in your resume. Poor interview preparation can very quickly undo all the effort that went into writing your resume.

Disconnect: From my resume, the interviewer will have a clear picture of my skills.

Reconnect: Keep in mind what your resume can and cannot do well. It can certainly summarize your hard skills very effectively. It may also convey some aspects of your soft skills, such as your written communication skills and your ability to tackle collaborative projects. However, it’s likely to convey little if anything about your confidence, leadership presence, sense of humor or all-round likeability. So, from your resume, the interviewer will only have a clear picture of your hard skills.

Disconnect: My resume shows that I’m the most conscientious candidate about keeping up my hard skills, so I’m most likely to get the job.

Reconnect: Any advantage you have only applies to your hard skills, which are almost always less important than your soft skills at the interview stage. The interviewer will assess, consciously or not, how you will fit into a new role and a new organization and whether the thought of you as a colleague is appealing. That’s why your interview preparation needs to focus on effective ways of selling your soft skills.

Disconnect: I can’t do well in the interview if my resume is missing a particular hard skill.

Reconnect: The missing hard skill can’t be a deal-breaker. If it were, you wouldn’t be getting an interview. The missing skill may well form the basis of some questions (maybe pointed questions) from the interviewer, but the more important issue is how you conduct yourself, not the details of what you say. Do you remain open and relaxed or become furtive and flustered? Do you convey attributes that would readily allow you to acquire the missing skill, such as adaptability and enthusiasm for new experiences? Remember that no candidate is perfect and you don’t need to be to get the job. But you do need to persuade the interviewer in your statements and especially in your behavior that you have the soft skills to make you a great hire.

About the author:

Janet Webb is the founder and president of JW Associates International Inc., an executive search and career management company with its head office in Toronto, Canada. To learn more, visit Janet has authored the e-book Interview to Offer: The Definitive Guide to Establishing Fit and Landing the Job.