How to Increase Your Chance of an Interview Significantly

This morning I had a coaching call with one of my job search coaching clients and she raised the question “What’s the reason I always get rejected when I apply for jobs even though the job description matches almost perfectly”. 

I want to talk to you about this question and give you some insights what you can do to significantly increase your interview ratio if you decide to spend time on the 20% of visible jobs out there.


Shift Your Focus to SMEs if You Can

I know it’s not possible in every profession but if you have the choice between large corporations where you will have difficulties to get the hiring manager on the phone and small to medium sized companies, choose the latter. SME companies might be more difficult to find but much easier to approach. You can easily find out who is the responsible hiring manager and get him or her on the phone.


2 Reasons You Get Rejected

There are more reasons than those but I see these are the most overlooked. Don’t try to figure out for too long why you have not been chosen and got rejected if you did not call the responsible person for that job before or after you sent your application. You will drive yourself crazy and your level of confidence and self-esteem will suffer. Rather stick with these two reasons and do what comes next.


1. You are competing against 100s of other applicants

If you are applying for a job that is posted in English and does not require German or French, chances are that there are 100s of other applicants. If you don’t believe me, do a search in the jobs section on LinkedIn and see how many people have applied for the job already. Of those 100s applicants, on average about 20% do look very good on paper and might even be a 100% match. You can do the math of your chances yourself here.


2. Other applicants are in the process before you even see the job

That’s called the hidden job market and that’s what you should be aiming at. You want to get in front of the hiring responsible before anybody else or at least have a phone call before anybody else.


Pre Application Call

If this is the only thing you take away from this article and implement, you make me feel very happy and you will feel so too.

Before you send out your application, call. 

Priority number one is the hiring manager. If you can get him or her one the phone and ask the right questions which we will cover below, you can only win. 

Priority number two is the HR responsible. HR is only an option if you have absolutely no idea who could be responsible and no possibility to get the hiring manager on the phone. 

If you want to make sure you have an effective communication strategy at hand when you call, download the free Communication Excellence Workbook here.


Asking General Questions

When you call, ask things like:

  • How long is the position already open?
  • How far are you in the process to fill this job already?
  • What’s the most important skill that the person should bring along for this role?


With these questions you get a better sense if it’s actually worth applying for that job. You will also get to know some general information you did not have from simply reading the job description.


Asking Specific Questions

Here are some examples of more specific questions:

  • I saw in the advert that you are looking for somebody with skill XY, is this because…?
  • You mention in the advert that the applicant should bring skill XY for this job, how important is this?
  • From the job description I assume that the person in this job will be doing XY, is this correct?


There is some psychology behind these questions. You want to pick some of the skills mentioned and make the person at the company confirm that this is an important one. Once the person confirms the importance, you come into the equation and explain how much you love doing that and what you have done in the past that is related to their need. Got it?

If you use this approach the right way, you will leave the conversation with a very positive impression as you are the solution to their problem.

You have just confirmed that you bring along the most important skills for that job and made the life of HR or the hiring manager significantly easier. You have reduced the workload to go through 100 applications. They also have the confirmation that you are a great match and already talked to you.


Ending the Conversation Right

After you demonstrate that you are the solution and that interviewing you would be the best option, it’s time to agree for the follow up. Let the person know that you are sending them the resume in the next hour and ask for their email address.

Now, before you hang up, you say something along the lines of “Is it ok for you if I follow up with you in 3 days?”. This step is very important because this way they will expect your call.

Put a note in your calendar or anywhere that reminds you to follow up and send them your complete application documents incl. CV, reference letters and diplomas.


One More Reason to Call

In case you don’t have any or only few reference letters from your previous employers, you can explain this in the phone call. However, if you send in your application without calling first, you won’t have a chance to explain anything and might just get rejected because your application seems incomplete.

I know this is a common issue for people not having worked in Switzerland before.

Even if you state in your email or cover letter that you don’t have reference letters for whatever reason, this might get overlooked or ignored.


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