You have been pounding the pavement, networking, tapping leads, following the rules about not submitting unsolicited resumes, applying for positions by meticulously following the instructions in the job posting, and you have lined up an interview.
Don’t blow it. You can shoot yourself in the foot in the following ways:
- Being late.
- Inappropriate attire. Remember, you want to get the job. This is not where you express your creativity. High visibility positions DEMAND good appearance. Dress well and be conservative for an interview even in these days of more casual dress in the work environment. Navy is always good for an interview.
- Do Market Research. Don’t appear clueless.
- Don’t assume your resume will get you the job. Assume they haven’t even read it. Sell your skills throughout the interview.
- Don’t assume that the best skills, education and experience will get the job. Have the right personality and a co-operative attitude. Top credentials are not all it takes to get hired.
- DON’T FAIL TO PREPARE. This is a fatal error.Write out your answers to expected questions and rehearse them.
- Don’t assume the interviewer is an expert. That is a myth. Sometimes it is to your advantage to direct the conversation to effectively make your points.
- Inspire confidence. This is no time to be humble and meek. Express competence and confidence or he will recognize that you can’t do the job. Eye contact, smile, enthusiasm.
- Demonstrate the skills. Don’t just sit there and be quiet. (Unless this is the silence stress test.) Don’t be general or vague. Be detailed but concise. You will be hired for specifics.
- Don’t appear desperate or stressed out, it is a turn off.
- Don’t mishandle supplemental questions or tests. You may be asked to take a written test. Don’t guess. Think carefully and follow directions. Proof-read. Most errors come from nervousness and rushing. If asked to submit to a drug test, DO SO. Take all prescription medicines to the test with you so they can be documented.
- REMEMBER THAT THE FIRST 60 SECONDS, AND THEN THE LAST 5 MINUTES, ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT TIME AND WILL STICK IN THE INTERVIEWER’S MIND.
- Don’t think that all references are “created equal”. Work references are the most important, in fact they may be only acceptable ones. Co-workers are not usually trusted. Get supervisors on your list, with their permission of course. Know what your references are going to say. Never use a boss who will say negative things. You select your references so choose carefully.
- Demonstrate that you are the ideal worker. All positions evolve, so demonstrate that you love to learn and will continue growing.
- Never lie on a resume or application. The truth WILL come out. That should be elementary. Employers do check education, previous salary, etc.
- Do not appear disinterested in the job. Don’t be monotone. Be friendly and ask good questions.
- Do, however, avoid bragging. Substantiate your claims. Bragging is a weak candidate attempting to snow the interviewer. You must concretely demonstrate the results of everything you claim.
- Avoid lengthy answers. Interviewers have short attention spans. Keep it moving, don’t bore them.
- Tolerate pauses, you aren’t doing a monologue on the radio.
- Your major goal is not to land the job but to FIND OUT about the job. Is this a good match? You are investigating THEM.
- What to bring: extra resumes, list of references, your written questions, notebook and pen. You may want to keep some gum in your mouth to keep your tongue from going dry BUT DO NOT CHEW IT OR LET IT SHOW.
While we are at it, do you know why you need a dynamite cover letter? Most resumes are just mentally scanned quickly. Your cover letter is a commercial that sells your attributes and must do so in thirty to sixty seconds. Don’t waste it.
Few people can do a good job of writing their own cover letter. You will cross a fine line into being too low key or arrogant. Employers are looking for confidence. Assertive not aggressive or passive. It takes an unbiased, emotionally detached, objective person to do it well.
If you are not sure your resume and cover letter are working for you get professional help. firstname.lastname@example.org