Wednesday, March 26, 2014

interviewing: some (unsolicited) advice: part two

six: avoid giving TMI.

imagine this: a candidate arrives 20 minutes late to their interview.  when they arrive they say ‘sorry I’m late those darn Jehovah’s witnesses stopped by the house right before I left and then I couldn’t get the kids in the car to go to the sitter’s.  to top it off, my boyfriend got in an accident with a Democrat of all dreadful people and it cost us over $400 which we don’t have.  thanks for waiting for me.’  candidate sheepishly grins.  recruiter takes a deep breath and the interview begins.

granted, this is an extreme example but, it’s really not all that far from the truth.  often times I come into contact with candidates that, in a matter of minutes, manage to tell me more about their personal lives than I care to know.  and while I like to build relationships there is a time and a place and a particular audience for the type of scenario mentioned above.  an interview is not the time, or the place and a recruiter is certainly not an ideal audience. 

while none of the information provided in the given scenario can be used as a sole basis for a hiring decision it can certainly be a factor in that decision.  further, a company may put itself at risk if they knowingly hire an individual with preconceived biases.  in this case it’s reasonable to believe that the comments made are enough to safely remove the candidate from the selection process where other equally qualified candidates exist.  this happens more often than you think.

a good rule of thumb is to leave pay, politics, and religion out of the conversation. period.  and during an interview this rule should be expanded to include questionable behavior and, at times, family.  if you feel the urge to disclose personal information find a ‘best friend at work’ and share away but, keep it out of the interviewing process.

seven: positivity rules!

people who fail to see the silver lining shine in an unflattering light during interviews.  it becomes evident that these individuals have a difficult time learning from their mistakes and appreciating the opportunities they’ve been given.  one response I coined from a candidate went like this:  ‘I work with a bunch of catty women and they don’t like to do things differently.’  this was in response to a question about a time when the candidate had to persuade a group of peers where they had no authority.  there are far nicer ways to say the same thing and have it carry the same message. think about it.  (this candidate was not hired.) 

on the other hand, people who craft their answers in a way that demonstrates some humility, honesty, and genuine charisma with positive undertones win out.  answers like this generally focus on wins.  to an interviewing panel or recruiter this helps determine if the individual is a good organizational fit where their answers and body language convey a message of ‘I’m approachable but, I mean business.’ 

to that end, use your body to help you communicate.  if you sit with your arms and legs crossed the whole time you’ll seem closed off.  smile.  I don’t know why but, this is hard for people.  a smile goes a long way.  call people by name, if you remember, and shake hands.  it’s basic stuff. 

bottom-line: when life gives you lemons, make berry spiked lemonade!  that’s my motto.  train yourself to see the good in even the most frustrating work situations, vent to your husband/significant other if you must, and learn how to formulate positive remarks about those situations for your next interview.  if you do, that situation and your response may help you advance your career – #winning.

eight: relax.

it really is only an interview.  sure it might be an opportunity for something greater but, you should be most worried about your performance once you’re hired.  remember that everything happens for a reason then take a deep breath.  if you find yourself so anxious and nervous that you can hardly stomach the thought of answering a question without hyperventilating or squeaking your voice then simply say ‘please forgive me, I’m a little nervous’ and move on.  at the end of the day if you’ve adequately prepared then you’ll be more confident.   

ninth: dress appropriately.

someone told me once to dress for the job I want not the job I have.  that’s my approach to work dress. sure there are days when I want to sport jeans and a pony tail (and in a couple of jobs I have) but, I know that it’s not professional and it’s not representative or where I want to go with my career.  the next day I dress to the nines. 

when you’re in a role that is customer facing you need to be a good representative of the organization. now, this is somewhat dependent on the industry and the nature of the role but, you better believe that if you ever come dressed in a t-shirt or tennis shoes for an interview (despite what anyone will tell you) it will absolutely have an impact on the hiring decision.  if you fail to wear a nice shirt and dress pants, at a minimum, you’re suggesting that the position is immaterial, that you don’t care, and that quite frankly you’re lazy.

look better than what’s expected. 

lastly: say thank you…in writing.

a hand written thank you carries more weight than an e-mail and an e-mail is better than a fly-by thanks as you exit the interview.   if you rock an interview but forget to say thank you you’re shooting yourself in the foot.  most people fail to appreciate all of the time and energy that goes into recruiting new talent. not only is it common courtesy it keeps you are the forefront of the recruiter’s mind.

happy interviewing!

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