As a person who has been on both the job seeker side and the employer end it is amazing how many people throw any chance of getting hired right out the window before they even say a word.
There are thousands of books out their telling you how to memorize possible interview questions and to have an arsenal of winning answers on hand, but the biggest part of any job interview is that initial 10 seconds when you meet your prospective future employer.
Most of what you need to know to be successful in any job interview no matter what level, field or company you are applying to work for is pure common sense. Here is my list of common sense tips to job interviews.
1. Show up. Yes, I have actually had several people who did not even show up for the interview or were very late. As my office is a bit hard to find, I offer to meet customers or job seekers for the first time at the train station, which is about a 10 minute walk, and escort them to my office. Let me tell you, waiting around the train station in the middle of January for 10-20 minutes more than you have to is enough to irritate anyone, much less the person giving you a job interview. If you are going to be late, at least have the common courtesy to call and have you had better have a good excuse. If you do not even show up, well, that says a lot about your character right there.
2. Wear a suit. It does not matter whether you are a man or a woman or applying for a blue collar job or a white collar job, or even doing an interview online via webcam, it is better to dress for success. If you can, wear a nice suit and not something you borrowed that is two sizes too big.
You do not have to wear a designer brand, but try to avoid wearing a cheap looking suit that was made twenty years ago. Wearing an eye appealing suit says a lot about you without you saying anything. There is a lot of truth in the phrase, "I feel like a million dollars!" when dressed to kill for the occasion. When you walk up to meet your interviewer, you immediately call attention to yourself that you have self confidence, discipline and ambition-all of which are desired by an employer.
3. Do not smoke. Unless the office you are going to is owned by a tobacco company, it is best not to smoke before an interview. Many people get stressed out and nervous before an interview and smokers tend to light up in that situation. I have seen people putting out their cigarettes after their name is finally called. If the person interviewing you does not like the smell of smoke, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage right off the bat by smelling like a chimney. If you are a heavy smoker, suck it up and have the self discipline to not smoke at least two hours before the interview. Once the interview is over you can light up all you want.
4. Eye contact. Always, and I mean always, look your interviewer in the eye when answering a question. You do not have to stare them down like two dogs looking for the other to back down, but keep focused on the person’s face. I always make lots of eye contact when I talk to people, not just because I want to make sure they are following me and listening, but because you can really read a person by looking into their eyes. This shows sincerity, honesty, friendliness, respect and alertness.
5. Be prepared. Always carry a few extra copies of your resume, cover letter and letters of reference. Even if the company already has a copy of these, bring them anyways. You never know when an interviewer may ask you for your resume because they forgot to bring their copy into the room. In addition, make sure you know something about the company you are hoping to work for. Having knowledge of the company shows you are serious about working there and have basic research skills.
6. Use proper language. Never use slang or ‘uh-uh’ and ‘nah’. One of my pet peeves is when people keep grunting out ‘uh-uh’ all the time instead of just saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. If you let too many ‘yeas’ and ‘uh-uhs’ into the interview, your going to be looked at as a person who does not show respect to superior management or who lacks business etiquette.
If you have a habit of doing this, start catching yourself when you do this. Train yourself to start saying "Yes…Certainly…By all means…I am afraid I cannot…Unfortunately….etc." and soon you will be talking like professional.
Look and act professional and you will be treated as such. Show respect and you will earn respect. Once you have got these basic commons sense tactics down, you are more than 80% there. The rest is just tweaking and practice.
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