Usually I write about financial tips to help you manage your money, but this week I thought I would switch it up a bit. Many of my friends are seeking new career opportunities. Some just had an interview for their dream job and wish they would have done or said something differently. Yes, employers look at your resume and that plays a very important role in deciding if you are a good fit for the position, but if you don’t have people skills, your chances of getting that job might be slim to none (depending on the job). All I can say is practice, practice, practice. Check out this list of DO’s and DON’Ts when interviewing for a job:
- Dress for Success. When in doubt, don’t wear it. The first impression you make on a potential employer can make a big difference. The first judgment an interviewer makes is going to be based on how you look and what you are wearing. Your personal grooming and cleanliness should be impeccable.
- Arrive Early. Always show up at least 15 minutes prior to the interview. It shows that you are reliable and prepared. Know the location you are going to, the time you are supposed to meet and plan accordingly.
- Offer a Firm Handshake. Offer a firm handshake to everyone you are introduced to. Make eye contact, and have a friendly expression when you are greeted by your interviewer. First impressions go a long way!
- Know the Company. How much do you know about the company you are interviewing for? Do your research ahead of time! Check out the company’s website and take notes. There is nothing worse then going into an interview when you know nothing about the company or position you applied for. It makes you look really bad and you can assume your application is going in the garbage.
- Ask Questions. A job interview is a two-way street. The employer asks questions to determine if the interviewee is an ideal fit for the job, and the candidate uses the interview to determine if the job fits their career path and objectives. Not only are you trying to impress the employer, but you want to make sure the job is a great fit for you.
- Relax. Take a deep breath and be yourself….your best professional self that is. The employer knows you are nervous, which is normal. Just don’t let it show! Anxiety is a turn-off. In a job interview, you want to come across as confident, competent, and ready to go to work. Anxiety takes away from the strong, positive impression you want to make. Preparation is key! If you know your stuff and practice, you will feel better about going into the interview.
- Send a Thank You. Writing a thank you letter after a job interview isn’t a choice. It’s a must! That is, if you really want the job. You should follow up right away…that means within 24 hours of your interview. Thanking them can project an image of a grateful and well-mannered applicant and may just earn you some brownie points on your application!
- Do NOT talk bad about previous employers. It is rude and extremely unprofessional. Most people have had at least one bad work experience in their lifetime, but interviewers want to know that you can handle it professionally. Plus, the employer will worry what you may say to someone about him or her down the road.
- Do NOT use your phone during an interview. Don’t take a phone call. Don’t look at a text message. Turn your phone on silent, or better yet, leave it in the car. Using your phone sends a pretty clear message to your potential employer that getting the job is not your top priority. (Sadly, I have heard of this happening too often with recent graduates).
- Do NOT make excuses. Take responsibility for your decisions and your actions
- Do NOT zone out during an interview. Make sure you are well-rested, alert and prepared for your interview. Take notes to help keep you engaged in the conversation!
- Do NOT chew gum. Who wants to listen to someone chomping away during an interview? I sure don’t. Lose the gum!
When in doubt, pause before you say what’s on your mind. If you wonder if it’s okay to ask, assume it’s better to avoid the topic altogether. Just remember to relax and stay confident. Everyone has to go through the process sometime. You are not alone. For more interviewing tips, check out this great article from Forbes. You never know when you’ll get that next interview, and it will be nice to bring some helpful strategies with you!
Until next time,