With unemployment rates stubbornly sustaining the 9% mark, the stakes have never been higher for job hunters facing that all important interview. For many unemployed applicants who are trying to return to the workforce, it may have been a long time since they faced an interview while others may have faced many recent interviews but have somehow failed to land the elusive job offer. Either way, if you are fortunate enough to land that first interview keep in mind these simple tips: After all, as your mother always said:
“You never get a second chance to make that first impression”
- Do your research. Spend some time looking up the history of the company and its ownership. Use social networking sites like LinkedIn and even Facebook to see if you might already know some employees.
- Show up five minutes early – but no earlier. Don’t arrive too early and sit uncomfortably in the reception area. And whatever you do, don’t show up late.
- Watch your body language. Experts constantly remind us that much of our communication is nonverbal. Therefore, offer a firm handshake, maintain eye contact, and smile. Also remember to acknowledge those speaking to you by nodding in agreement.
- Take notes. Within your binder, keep a notepad and a nice pen for taking notes. This is also an excellent place to store any business cards you might be given.
- Don’t interrupt. People love to hear themselves talk, especially once they’ve achieved a position that allows them to hire others. I once sat through a 45-minute interview where a manager barely let me say a word. I listened intently and said nothing – and received a job offer shortly thereafter.
- Be authentic. I’ve been told by several hiring managers that they always walk into an interview with their “phony detector” on. Once an employer senses that a person isn’t being completely truthful about even a small detail, the candidate may have lost all of his or her credibility.
- Treat everyone you meet with respect. In many instances when an executive looks to hire a candidate they will ask receptionists, assistants and other peers their impressions of the potential hire. Act like every person you meet may have a say in the hiring decision.
- Ask good questions. Every interview I’ve ever been on ends with the interviewer asking me if I have any questions. Since awkward silences are not what they’re looking for, come prepared with few basic queries. Again, people love to do the talking. Good questions can include asking about the culture of the office, favorite attributes about the company, and the next steps of their hiring process. Steer clear from salary or benefits questions until the employer brings up the subject as part of a job offer.
- Bring additional copies of your resume. Most interviews are conducted with multiple people, and it’s by no means assured that each will have been given a copy of your resume. Bring along a professional-looking binder that contains several good copies of your resume.
- Stay positive. Try not to say anything negative about current or former employers and colleagues, as your comments may reflect more poorly on yourself than others. Even if you left a bad situation, you can describe it as a good learning experience.