Today’s blog may seem a bit strange coming from a mom blogger who has been out of the workforce for 17 years, but stay with me. Over last few weeks I have been in the process of hiring staff for my new job. So far I have hired six new staff and need to hire at least four more. It has been many years since I conducted interviews and hired people, but luckily the skills came back quickly.
Each time I conduct an interview I am reminded how little people know about ‘how’ to interview. It isn’t complicated stuff. I have always been good at interviews. I know I sound like I am bragging, but it’s true. Years ago on an interview someone said to me, “That was the best interview I have ever had with someone.” Am I a natural-born interviewee? No. I just have been well-trained on the do’s and don’ts of interviewing.
My mother taught me the skills of interviewing. She worked for the Job Training Partnership Act as a job counselor when I was young. It was her job to help people who were unemployed get back to work. She showed me the in and outs of how to apply for a job and when you get an interview how to act.
The hardest part of getting a job is getting the interview. Nowadays everything is computerized and unless you meet all the job requirements your résumé may be deleted before you have a chance to interview. If you do happen to get an interview don’t blow it.
Here we go.
How to Ace a Job Interview
Show up for the interview.
This sound ridiculous, right? However, you would be surprised how many people don’t bother to show up for interviews. They don’t call or even email to say they won’t be arriving. It is the ultimate in rudeness. If you have an interview scheduled, but have changed your mind for what ever the reason make a phone call. It may be uncomfortable for a moment or two, but the company will think highly of you for acting professionally. Being a professional means handling things directly not wimping out.
Be on time.
Hiring someone who is dependable and reliable is always top on my list of requirements. If someone arrives late to an interview it’s a bad sign. Sure people get confused about directions occasionally, but for an interview you must always be on time. Be sure to arrive at least 10 to 15 minutes early. Don’t arrive more than 15 minutes early because the interviewer may be conducting other interviews and does not want to feel rushed with someone waiting for them.
It’s not necessary to wear a suit to every interview, but you should look nice. Clean, pressed clothes are a must and please no jeans. When I phoned to schedule a person for an interview she asked, “Should I dress nice or dress for how I would look on the job?” I couldn’t believe she would even ask such a question. I told her to dress like someone who would represent the company. The point of an interview is to impress and there is no better way that to dress nicely.
Use a firm handshake.
When the interviewer extends their hand to shake with you, shake their hand firmly. Many women try to be ladylike with their handshake, but being ladylike is not what’s needed during an interview. A firm handshake indicates confidence. That is just what you want the interviewer to think about you…that you are confident. Shaking a hand that feels like a limp lasagna noodle is very unappealing.
Listen to the questions asked and ask for clarification if needed.
When I asked questions during recent interviews I noticed some people weren’t sure what I was asking. It could be because they are unfamiliar to a topic I am discussing or didn’t hear what the question was. No one will be insulted if you ask for clarification. For goodness sake please don’t answer a question you don’t know the answer for. Simply tell the interviewer, “I am not familiar with that topic, but it sounds interesting.”
In an interview it is important to seem confident. Telling the interviewer your talents and skills is a must, but be mindful of how you come across. I conducted one interview with someone very experienced. Instead of telling me her accomplishments politely she felt the need to ‘boast and brag’ about herself. She dominated the conversation by going on and on about how fabulous she was. If someone is truly fabulous they don’t need to brag and tell the world. The world will already knows.
Read about the company prior to coming to the interview.
Almost every company has a website to find information about them. During my recent interview process I was stunned how many of my interviewees knew nothing about the place they were interviewing for a job at. It is your responsibility to know all you can about the job you are interviewing for. I spent far too much time during interviews explaining my organization to people who didn’t bother to research the information ahead of time.
Smile, laugh and have a good time.
I am a goofy person by nature. During an interview I become much more serious. I try to seem professional. However, an interview is the time to showcase your personality. No one can be serious all the time and it’s important to show the interviewer you would be someone who is enjoyable to be around. Smile and relax as much as possible. You may be feeling desperate to get the job, but your interviewer should never see that on your face. Be yourself, but your most comfortable self.
Turn your cell phone off and put it away.
Years ago when I conducted interviews most people didn’t have cell phones. Now everyone does. Bringing your cell phone to an interview is fine, but it should not be on or visible. During one of my interviews a young woman placed her cell phone on the table and it vibrated every three minutes throughout the interview. After the fourth buzzing sound I had to ask her to put it away. Cell phones are distracting to conversations. Keep them out of sight.
Bring extra copies of your résumé and references to the interview.
During an interview I always bring copies of cover letters and resumes. Occasionally I would forget a résumé and appreciated when an interviewee had an extra copy available. for me. References are always to be brought to an interview. Bring a list of three professional and at least two personal references. It is very difficult to get a hold of references, so the more people you list the better.
Follow up the interview with an email to thank the interviewer.
Sadly, I did not get many of emails thanking me for the opportunity to interview. For those who did thank me I was always impressed. In one case where I had to make a decision between to closely skilled people, the interview thank you letter was the deciding fact for who to choose. If someone takes time out of their day to see if you are a good choice to work at their company, be polite and thank them.
There you go. You probably know this stuff already, but it doesn’t hurt to have a reminder.
Good luck on your job interview and remember leave the chewing gum at home.