Interviewing Do’s and Don’ts

Even though this blog is primarily about Crafts and other fun stuff. From time to time I’ll throw in some tips or things I learned over the years. These interviewing “Do’s and Don’ts” have been compiled from my 25 years of working in Human Resources. Over the years I have interviewed a ton of people and have seen and heard everything!! From those experiences I have compiled this list.

1. DON’T BE NERVOUS. Ha! Easier said than done! I always tell people who are interviewing, “if it is “your” job, you will get it! Seems too simple right, but I have used this technique myself and it works! I figure if I don’t get the job, there was something about it I wouldn’t have liked anyway. I consider these practice interviews and move on.

2. BE PATIENT. Working in HR as long as I have, I have seen 100’s of people get discouraged because they weren’t chosen for a specific position, but yet, a few weeks or months later they land their perfect job. So be patient….your perfect job is out there! A very general rule of thumb is, it takes one month of searching for every ten thousand dollars in salary before being hired. So if you are looking for a $50K job, it could take up to 5 months to find it.

3. USE HUMOR. Of course only when and if it is appropriate. Humor lightens the mood and makes the interview seem more like a conversation between two professionals rather than a gestapo-like interrogation. I always remembered candidates that made me laugh and being remembered is key to getting the job! During the interview, you want to focus on presenting your skills and experience in the most professional manner but it doesn’t hurt when you throw in a funny antidote or story along the way. However, these stories or antidotes should not put anyone in a negative or disrespectful light. You don’t want the interviewer to think you are mean-spirited.

4. DRESS FOR SUCCESS. Don’t overlook the importance of first impressions. Your appearance is key! When the interviewer first sets eyes on you, you want it to be a positive experience. Simple is good, trendy is not! Wear something you feel comfortable in but that doesn’t mean sweats! Another rule of thumb is “dress for the job you want not the job you currently have”. When I was an administrative assistant, I always dressed exactly like the attorneys I worked for. This helped them view me as a professional and helped me get promoted. And Ladies, unless you are interviewing for a pole dancer job, keep the “girls” underwraps! Don’t wear anything that would distract your interviewer including a low cut dress or top.

5. NEGATIVE NELLIE’S DON’T GET JOBS. Never Never Never be negative. I’ll say it again NEVER be negative. Don’t say one single negative thing!! EVER! Not about your past jobs, current job, your supervisor, the company, benefit packages, your parking space, location of the your desk……NOTHING! When I was interviewing, once a candidate said anything negative I would immediate think “Great another complainer!!” That was the last thing I, or any other employer, wanted! The candidate had to work really hard to get me to overcome those thoughts. The world is full of complainers, don’t be one of them.

6. HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY. Be truthful. If you don’t have a particular skill set, tell them. If someone asks if you know a certain software or are knowledgable about a certain process. Be honest and say “no” but follow it up with how you have handled similar situations in the past when faced with learning a new skill or process. Tell the interview the steps you took to overcome this deficit. Remember, past history is a predicted of future behavior! Whatever you do don’t say “but I am a fast learner”. I don’t know how many times I heard candidates say that. To me its a cop out answer. Prove to the interviewer you can learn new things by telling them how you did it in the past.

7. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. Practice your answers to questions you think the interviewer will ask. Especially the HARD ones like “why did you leave your last job?” Get your answers ready! If you were termed, openly admit to it. Don’t skirt around the issue, they’ll find out in the end anyway. Be prepared with a positive slant to the situation. For instance, you might say, “I was let go but I learned so much through that experience and now I know how more appropriately to handle those situations; OR I didn’t love that job, and when you don’t love what you do, people see it. I should have left on my own but sometimes life has to push people in the right direction, I got that push. Most importantly refer to Tip #5 and #6.

8. BE RESPECTFUL OF YOUR INTERVIEWER AND SURROUNDINGS. Never put your purse or notebook on the interviewers desk. This is not your office or your kitchen table. Place your belongings next to you on the floor if need be, but not on the interviewers’ desk. Someone did that to me once and it annoyed me so much that I couldn’t concentrate on the interview. Needless to say, that person was not hired.

9. DON’T BE LATE. Okay this should be a “No Brainer” but candidates still do it! Make sure you arrive at the location 15 or 20 minutes prior to the interview. This will give you a cushion for “getting lost”, waiting on trains, traffic congestion and any other delays. If you are unsure of the location, scope it out a day or two before the interview. Make a test run, noting construction or traffic volumes. Most Managers do not interview for a living, they have a ton of other things to do. If you are late, they will start thinking of all the other things they could be doing and you will move down on the list of qualified candidates. So be on time.

10. HAVE QUESTIONS READY! Every time I asked someone I was interviewing if they had any questions and they said “No”, I was always disappointed. To me they either weren’t listening, didn’t care that much about the job, or were not intelligent enough to know they should have questions! Remember its a two way street! You are interviewing them too. Research the company prior to the interview. This will help you develop some thoughtful questions to ask.

11. DON’T CUSS. People that know me, know I’m a “cusser”! I cuss like a drunken sailor and there have been times where I’ve even made up my own cuss words. My real “speciality” is to link cuss words together in unique and different ways. I will admit, it is a gift. BUT what I don’t do is cuss or say anything in an interview that is inappropriate. I had one gentleman tell me that his past employer wouldn’t terminate anyone even if they “raped” a nun. Seriously he said that! Unbelievable! He wasn’t hired.

12. SMOKING. Most employers have moved to “no smoking polices”. This could mean they don’t hire smokers or employees can’t smoke on the premises. Wrong or right, it is reality. So if you smoke, make sure you don’t bring obvious “smoking” clues to the interview. While I have never interviewed someone that actually smoked during the interview, they might as well have. Their clothes, purse, and/or coat reeked of it. You want nothing to stand in the way of you getting the job so make sure the only thing they smell is the sweet smell of success!

13. SET YOURSELF A PART FROM THE REST! After the interview, send a hand written note to the interviewer. Not an email or a text….it has to be a hand-written note mailed or dropped off at the location. No one does this anymore! It will help the interviewer remember you. Just make sure you spell your interviewer’s name right! Sending a hand-written note will skyrocket you to the top of the candidate list, spelling the manager’s name wrong will slide you all the way to the bottom! The best time to do it is one or two days following the interview, no longer.

Hopefully these tips will come in handy when landing your perfect job! Live Happy! Gayle

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