Over the years I am sure we have all made some interview blunders, but the best ones come from my wife, who has worked in some form of HR for the past fifteen years. Her biggest pet peeve is when someone is late or makes a ton of excuses why they are late, even further delaying her interview schedule. Sometimes, she would end up interviewing over ten applicants in one day for the same position. She called them her “diet” days, because someone was always was late and she missed lunch.
But what about now, when there are over 125 qualified applicants interviewing for one position? How do you set yourself apart? How do you overcome interview obstacles and keep from making some pretty bad interviewing mistakes? Keep reading. My wife sure likes to talk but she knows her stuff…
1. Above all be positive. Even if you don’t know how you are going to make your next mortgage payment or your girlfriend left you, the interviewer does not want to know. They are not your new best friend. When asked about why you left your last job, always put your past employer in the best possible “light.” Use phrases like,”They were an awesome company to work for but, there wasn’t room for growth” or “I will really miss my co-workers, we worked very well as a team, but I really wanted to pursue this field/product that your company manufactures/sells.”
2. Dress appropriately. This is not a date, so ditch the perfume/cologne and five inch heels. Wear a suit (borrow one if you need to) for an office job or a warehouse position…always dress the way you see yourself in five years. This exudes confidence and respect for the person that is interviewing you.
3. Observe and listen. This is a great opportunity to learn more about your potential employer. Look around his/her office and note things that you two may have in common. Even if they are a Magic fan and you like the Lakers, you can still make a comment about basketball (as long as it is positive). Maintain eye contact and give signs that you are listening to them, even if they start talking about their kids or other things that do not interest you. Ask them why they chose to work at the company and what continues to inspire them. Above all, leave your cell phone in the car or turn it off. Texting during an interview or even in the lobby area is a big no-no.
4. Show your cards. Tell them in specific examples (not on your resume) of why you are the best individual for the position. Benefits and salary are important, but not generally discussed at first. Let them introduce that topic. Adopt the attitude “what can I do for the company?”
5. Follow up. Let them know you want the job. Persistence pays off. My wife, on an interview, once offered to call all of the other applicants and tell them the position was filled. The HR lady laughed and hired her. Yes, she did have to call 26 people to cancel their interviews. As the interview is concluding, ask “What is the next step? I think this would be a great fit. I really would love the job.” And, later said an email to thank them for their time and consideration. Applicants forget to send a simple “thank you” note and this will set you apart from other qualified applicants.