The resume and the personal interview work hand-in-hand to help you find a job. However, each serves its own purpose and has its own structure, so it's essential you understand how, when and why to use each tool. If you do, you can tailor them to reflect the goals for each step of the hiring process and increase your chances of selling the employer on your qualifications.
The biggest difference between a resume and a personal interview is the format. A resume is a written document sent to employers when applying for jobs. You often never know if an employer read your resume or if he even received it. A personal interview, on the other hand, is a face-to-face meeting with the employer, usually in person but sometimes via telephone or video conferencing. As noted by The Career Center at Notre Dame University, an employer may spend just 20 seconds reading your resume. He'll likely spend at least half an hour talking to you during an interview, on the other hand. Many interviews, especially second- or final-round interviews, last one or two hours or even an entire day. They may also include a tour of the company or a lunch meeting with one or more of your potential colleagues.
A resume is usually your first interaction with an employer. If you're responding to a job posting, the employer may see your resume along with dozens or hundreds of others. At this point, you're still lumped in with the many other candidates competing for the position. While some employers conduct on-the-spot interviews at job fairs, for example, the interview is more often the second step in the hiring process. Once an employer has called you in for an interview, he's already read your resume and may have even contacted your listed references or verified the education and employment you listed on your resume.
A resume offers a summary of your qualifications, including education, skills and work experience. It introduces you to potential employers and if effective, encourages them to invite you in for a personal interview. The interview takes the process a step further. A one-on-meeting with the employer is a two-way interaction, where both you and the employer can ask questions and raise topics for discussion. The interview allows the employer to get to know you better than if he had simply read your resume.
A resume includes basic information, such as dates and locations of employment and your job duties. It also lists your educational background, achievements, awards and skills. Because they're usually between one and two pages, resumes offer an introductory look at your qualifications, without delving into any of the topics in-depth. Resumes use plain language and rarely give employers a glimpse into your personality. An interview, on the other hand, is your opportunity to show employers what you're like as a person. Employers often select several points they want to follow up on in more depth during the interview. Instead of covering every aspect of your background, they may focus only on a few key areas, and may ask for examples and illustrations to support what you listed on your resume.
- Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images