Tips For A Successful Job InterviewPosted: July 20, 2012
I have a specialized assignment at work. After some cajoling, I got my bosses to agree to select the person who will fill my position when I retire next year. That gave me a chance to interview the people who were competing for my job.
Interviewing my potential replacements was a little like attending my own funeral, without having to hold quite so still. Several candidates referred to me by name, with me sitting right there as part of the interview panel. They all said nice things about me, and they’d glance over when they mentioned me. I did sort of stay still and smiled just a little. I thought I looked very natural.
During the interviews, I realized that people sabotage their own efforts to get jobs. Today, I’m going to help job seekers by discussing mistakes that I saw during this last set of interviews.
Be On Time
Your interviewer should never have to wait for you. Be early.
An early arrival impresses interviewers and gains you a few minutes to prepare yourself for what is to come. Planning to be early also provides you a time cushion for unexpected traffic or other factors that change “right on time” to “apologetically late”.
If you are late, admit it and apologize. Those who are in a position to hire and fire others are bright enough to read a clock. Your interviewer knows that you are late. Say you are sorry.
Remember, part of any job is arriving when you are expected. Nothing says “I am not the one you want” like showing up late for a job interview.
Be Ready For Standard Questions
I can tell you from my experiences as an interviewer and interviewee that you’ll often get at least one of these questions. They may not be worded exactly as these examples are, but if you listen closely you will hear questions like:
- Why do you want this job?
- What are your strong points and weaknesses?
- Tell me (us) about yourself
These questions are a gift. If you prepare, you’ll hit them over the fence. If you’re not ready for these queries, you are on the way to giving the job away to another candidate.
Find someone you trust to give you honest feedback. Ask them to pretend they are interviewing you for the job you want. Answer the questions I’ve listed, plus any others you anticipate being asked. After practicing without the job on the line, you will find yourself giving solid answers when it is on the line.
As you practice, be sure to give extra attention to questions that are about you. Talking about yourself is hard, but it is appropriate in an interview. Rehearsing will help you over the discomfort and help you focus on giving an answer that sells you.
Learn A Little About The Job
Take a little time to learn about the place you are hoping to work – their policies, products, and successes. Learn as much as you can about the position you want, in general and in the context of the organization that you hope will hire you.
In last week’s interviews, a very talented person gave away a shot at the job by saying “I did not read much on the subject because I wanted to be a blank slate, without bad habits, if I got the job.” This week he is a blank slate, without the job. His answer left the impression that he did not care enough to do a little research.
Learning a little about the job communicates a level of concern that employers like. Companies can get blank slates by the crate. People who care about their job before they even get it are harder to come by; they are the ones who get happy news from their new bosses.
Dress Nicely. Don’t Bring Friends
I don’t run into this problem when I hire, but I see people do it all the time in entry-level positions. They arrive to meet a potential employer after putting no special effort into their appearance. Very often, they arrive with several friends who sit and talk to the applicant as they complete a job application. Sometimes, the whole crowd applies for the same job.
If were hiring for my business, I’d be looking for people who were self motivated. Arriving in a ball cap and a pair of shorts wouldn’t tell me you are eager to work. It would say to me that you don’t care enough to distinguish yourself from the next person to come through the door. The person arriving with three friends would be giving me the message that they’d like me to pay them to have social time.
Be independent. Look sharp. Act in a professional manner. Be social on your own time.
Times are tough, competition for jobs is fierce. Preparation for an interview is critical. A little knowledge and concern for what you are doing will distinguish you from the crowd. Good luck, and be early!
- How to Dress For Every Job Interview! (fabsugar.com)
- 10 Ways to Battle Job-Interview Jitters (money.usnews.com)