Career-building Begins with the Interview
I have sat on either side of the interview table. As an interviewee, I’ve always been conscious of trying to appear confident and competent. As an interviewer, I’ve often marveled at the silly mistakes people make that can sway the balance against them.
Much has been written about this. Grip the other person’s hand firmly, but don’t crush it. And none of those limp fish handshakes. Enough said.
Here is the first opportunity to sell yourself to the company. Their first impression starts with the resume and cover letter you send in. By the way, I don’t know why people don’t send cover letters anymore (by and large). Employers like them. Send them. Just don’t write a novel as your letter. And don’t include a picture of your brain. I’m not kidding. One of the people who sent a resume to me included a link to his website. And guess what was on the first page – yup, an MRI of his brain. We did not invite him for an interview.
Research the Company you are Applying to
I know you may just be looking for a job to pay the bills, but employers want to feel you actually WANT the job. So, learn about them. Tell them how great they are. Display a bit of knowledge of what their company does.
A lady I was interviewing told me once that the credit union where I work is not for profit. “Hm,” said I, “-that’s news to us.”
It’s not rocket science. Almost every company out there has a website. Take a look at it before you come in.
At the Interview: Be Genuine, but Also Think About What You Are Saying
It’s easy to spot when someone is interested in something. Show some real interest but also make sure it’s for the right reasons. One of the job candidates I interviewed told me the main reason he wanted to work for the company was because it was walking distance from his condo apartment. He leaned forward eagerly as he explained that he ‘…couldsee the building out of his living room window’ and therefore we were the most desirable employer for him.
Later the recruiter in our company told me this same individual mistook our company for another and would not believe her when she tried to set him straight.
At the Interview, Be Confident but also Relaxed
A little nervousness is fine. It keeps you on your toes. Try to relax a little though. I will relate two incidents so you can see what I mean.
Mr. A seemed personable and friendly. He also seemed relaxed in his chair. And then he began drumming his fingers on the arm of the chair. And then he also began twitching his leg. And he didn’t stop until the end of the interview, by which time I was exhausted and wishing for him to leave. I could not imagine having to see that every day.
Mr. B was very nice and eager to show how he could do the job. He spoke very intelligently. Unfortunately, it seems he had very sweaty palms. He kept wiping them on his pants throughout the interview. By about ten minutes into the conversation both myself and my co-interviewer were only focusing on thinking that we would have to shake those sweaty hands at the end of the interview. Not good.
Keep a tissue in your jacket pocket if this is a problem for you so you can surreptitiously dry your hands once in a while. You want your interviewers to be riveted by what you say, not by your bodily functions.
The Interview Begins Before the Interview
As soon as you walk into the building, you could run into people who work for the company where you will be interviewing. Be on your best behaviour. Certainly, you need to be nice to the receptionist. Very often, she or he will convey their impression to the hiring manager.
Anna (not her real name) was standing outside the locked door to our office when I arrived before eight in the morning. When I asked if I could help her, she uncertainly said that she was supposed to have an interview at eight, but that it didn’t seem anyone was here. I sat her at reception and offered to get her a coffee while she waited. She accepted gratefully. I let the hiring manager know (who was in, but did not notice her waiting) that she was there. She made a point of thanking me for welcoming her, even though I am not the receptionist. I let the hiring manager know that she struck me as a personable, friendly person. She’s been working for us for almost a year now.