My mother instilled me with certain pieces of advice that I have kept close at hand throughout my life. Always wear clean socks. Never take a ride with a stranger. If you’re not at work 10 minutes before your shift, you’re late. When I became a hiring manager at a successful, busy restaurant, I applied that last little nugget to everyone I hired. Here are several specific qualities that employers look for when hiring in any industry.
Do Be On Time
In this job market, you are not the only person looking for work. The Human Resource Manager has, more than likely, scheduled interviews back to back. If you are late, you throw off her entire schedule and depending upon the personality, tardiness may nix you from the running. Nobody has ever lost out on a job for being a few minutes early to the interview.
Do Dress Appropriately
A good rule of thumb is to dress one level higher than the job requires. If you’re applying for a law firm, on the other hand, a tux may be too much. But if you’re applying for a job at a restaurant, wearing a casual suit is certainly in order. If you’re applying for a maintenance position, wear your best jeans and a button down shirt, rather than a polo shirt. Be clean, and pay careful attention to personal hygiene.
Especially in the service industry, a smile is crucially important. You aren’t just applying for a job. You’re applying to work within a family, of sorts. Many of us spend more time with our co-workers than we do our children, so being friendly can make or break the interview. Not to mention, if you’re going to be in contact with customers, the employer will be focused on just how friendly you can be.
Do Have a Copy of Your Resume or Application
Just like being prepared in school was important, so is being prepared for your interview. On the off chance that the employer has misplaced your application or resume, have one handy to replace it.
Do Be Honest
I can’t stress this enough. Answer all questions truthfully on the application and during the interview process. Dishonesty during this process is grounds for dismissal, so don’t hold back anything relevant to the position. This is the time to brag about yourself, but don’t embellish.
Don’t Wear Excessive Make Up or Jewelry
I am open-minded and I understand the need for self-expression. Your job interview (unless you’re applying at an alternative rock night club) is not the time to express yourself with facial piercings, or other elaborate body decorations. Ladies should wear simple, classic jewelry, and gentlemen should leave their studs at home. Makeup should be applied with a feather, not a trowel, especially if the job you’re seeking works directly with the public. No matter how open-minded the interviewer is, she will answer to the company in the end and must make decisions based on that, not her feelings.
Don’t Color Your Hair Green the Day Before
Jobs in the service industry, specifically, take a hard look at this. They serve all segments of the population, from the neighborhood grandmother, to the local biker club. People with orange Mohawks generally don’t care that someone else doesn’t have one, but people without extreme appearances are often offended by those who do. It’s not fair, but it’s the truth. Extreme appearance can easily take you out of the running for the job.
Don’t Be Rude
Simply saying, “Please,” and “Thank you,” can make a great first impression, but don’t forget to shake hands with a firm grip and look your interviewer directly in the eye when you meet her. Thank her for her time at the beginning and the end of the interview. Don’t dominate the conversation, but don’t hold back either. Don’t squirm in your seat, and be sure to maintain an attentive posture.
Don’t Fake It
Being yourself in the interview may seem a bit difficult when you’re nervous. If you’re nervous, don’t be afraid to tell the interviewer. I’ve often started interviews with, “I tend to ramble when I’m nervous, so feel free to tell me to pipe down if I talk too much.” I have never interviewed for a position where I did not ultimately receive an offer. As a hiring manager, I appreciated when the applicant wasn’t afraid to be themselves. After all, I was usually nervous, too.
Don’t Expect to Start Working Right Away
Very rarely does a job offer come at the end of the interview. Generally, the employer has more interviews to conduct and considerations to make concerning everyone who has applied. Thank the interviewer for her time and leave with confidence. A final suggestion? Leave your interview as though you’re being watched. Don’t strip down to your T-shirt in the parking lot (I’ve seen this happen more than once). The impression you leave with the interviewer is the one she will judge when she’s making her decision.
More from this Contributor:
How to Fire an Employee the Right Way
Qualities of an Effective Manager
Child Support: What You Need to Know