Friday, January 4, 2013

Interview Dos and Don'ts


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Ready to seek a new career opportunity here are some great tips to keep in mind.
DO
  • Know where it is: Prior to going to the interview be sure to get good directions and if possible drive to the location. Having visited the location you will feel comfortable finding the place on the day of the interview and knowing what the parking is like. Pay attention to the driving time so that you can plan plenty of time to get to your appointment.

  • Show up a little early. This will help make sure that you have some time to spare should you get caught in traffic or get detoured for some reason. Besides nothing speaks volumes about your professional habits like showing up on time and being prepared.

  • Dress Code: Be sure to check the dress code of the place you are interviewing. Today's business world has gone more to the casual side but you can not assume this in an interview. It is better to error on the traditional more formal side than on the other. Ladies you may want to inquire if their will be a walking tour or the like and adjust the height of your heels accordingly. If you look like them then you are more likely to be selected it is just human nature.

If you have tattoos or piercings it is in you best interest to cover them up. A belly ring might be very cool and yes it is your body, but take it from me, cover it up as a bare midriff is probably not going to set the right expectation for your professional abilities. Before you say "hey this is not fair" you are right, it is not fair and it is a potential form of discrimination but it will not get you the job you want so you decide. Tattoos are all the rage now and a wide variety of socio-economics are getting them but they may not be received correctly in a more traditional company so again you decide.I once hired a guy with an excellent technical background and work record to work in a company where all the men wore ties. The guy did a great job but when summer rolled around and the short selves shirts came out we found that he had tattoos over a big portion of his arms. After watching TLC (The Learning Channel) I now know this is called a "Full Sleeve".
It was all I could do to keep him on the payroll, once a Sr. V.P. saw his body art. Right, wrong or indifferent a man who had an excellent work record and high customer satisfaction levels, was going to get removed from a job because of his appearance. You are thinking hey he should have gone after the company and all I can say is that many states are right to work states and can send you home regardless of performance, any time they want to, for any reason they want to. Some of the more progressive states have instituted laws to protect workers but not all.
  • Take Notes: Bring a nice executive looking legal pad fold over pad folio with you to the interview. It is always good to take notes. It shows the interviewer interest in what they are saying and it is a real competitive advantage when it comes time to wrap up the interview.
[Hint for some added mileage ask the interviewer if they mind if you take notes. If they ask "why!" and I have had them ask this, explain that this opportunity is important to you and you want to be sure to capture all the details as they are giving up their valuable time to see you today. This should register a 9 on the interest scale and a respectable 5 on the flattery scale.]

  • Make eye contact: Do offer to shake hands when you meet and do not sit down until instructed so. Again you have but one chance to make a good impression and manners and the ability to respect others makes for a good team player. Eye contact is very important. Now mind you starring is rude and looking members of the opposite sex over is not only a no no but could get you in serious trouble. Pay attention, look the person you are speaking too in the eyes and read their face for clues. When they asked you a question and you gave an answer did they seem confused or upset? Pay attention what is more important than getting a career to support yourself and your loved ones.

  • Breathe this is very important. Failing to relax and take normal breathes can trigger the fight or flight response and you could end up passed out on the floor or at a minimum with a very flushed face. Remember the Company needs you as much as you need them so relax, be respectful and make eye contact and engage the interviewer in conversation.
When working for a telecom company several years ago I was interviewing candidates for a helpdesk opening. A young man came in for the interview and he was very flushed and seemed beyond nervous. I had been very impressed by his resume and his references could not say enough good things about him. Recognizing that he was stressed, I offered him a glass of water which he preceded to spill all over himself and then me. This made him even more nervous and he could not stop apologizing long enough to answer my questions.
I stepped across the hall to get something to clean up the water and when I came back he had his head down on the desk and looked as if he where going to pass out. Well after 10 minutes of getting him to drink some water and tell me about his family and pets and where he grew up and his favorite sports team I got him to calm down. It was decision time, was I going to loose a good silk tie without getting something out of it or was I going to see if his resume was true. I decided to proceed and I told him "take a few deep breaths" and was finally able to walk him around the building. During our walk, I continued our conversation from before and would sneak in an interview type of question here and there and his answers where great. What happened during our walk around helped me make up my mind on hiring him. During our walk we stopped by the PC work room and we were talking to one of the technicians about a problem they where having and this guy pipes up and said have you ever tried this and 2 minutes later what would have been a 2 day process was done.
Needless to say I hired him and never regretted my choice not once. Years later I hired this guy a second time to join my team at my new firm and we where sitting around drinking coffee and he said, "Dude" he was from like California, I don't know why you hired me after I passed out and drowned you on that first interview. He said "once you told me to breathe and I did every thing was cool". So take a deep breathe get focused and relax and be your self and things will work they way they are meant to. You want them to hire you not some projected image of you.
  • Make a connection: Try to make a connection with your interviewer. It is very helpful to make a connection with them on a personal level. Often times the interviewer is not accustom to doing interviews and establishing common ground puts them more at ease. For the experienced interviewer a sincere connection is a welcome change and will make you stand out from the crowd. Pay attention when you enter their office for pictures of children or pets. Look for sport reference or even a book on one of their shelves that you have read and ask about it. It is amazing what this will do to cut through the tension that is always associated with an interview.

  • Do ask questions. I always try to pick several important questions and write them down on my legal pad so I do not forget them in the heat of battle. If you have been taking notes and the interviewer was particularly passionate about an issue ask them more about it. It shows you were listening. In addition it is quite disheartening from the interviewer's perspective to ask if you the candidate have any questions only to get a blank stare back. It concerns me when the person does not have any questions because I feel like well where have they been and boy they are not very creative or can not think past the end of their nose. I begin to think if I hire this person am I going to have to tell them every thing will they not do things on their own.

  • Tell them you are interested: When wrapping up the interview if you do nothing else tell them you are interested in the position you are interviewing for. This is a classic mistake many people make and they end up not getting chosen. I also say something like I am sure I will leave here and remember a question I have is there a way I might be able to contact you later? If you are lucky they will give you a business card and this indeed is a great find.

  • Validate the Interviewer: Within 48 hours of an interview you should send some sort of correspondence thanking the interviewer for their time and information. I typically mention something that I learned from the interview and try to relate it to my experience and the requirements of the job. This again makes you stand out from the crowd and reinforces who you are in the interviewers mind. If you where unlucky to be the first person to interview it is all too easy for them confuse you with someone else or forget the good things that you said. This is an opportunity to be professional and follow up and thank them for their time. I have been told on more than one occasion by employers and by people I have coached that this made a difference.

Do Not
  • Do not rattle loose change in your pockets or twirl you hair or bite your nails. It is best to put you hands in your lap and keep them still.

  • Do not seem greedy: Don't ask about how quickly you can expect to be promoted or when your first increase in wage will come. Instead ask them about the possible career paths for someone in this position and you may even ask where others in this position have grown to.

  • Watch how you connect. When connecting with the interviewer do not make the mistake about commenting on a picture of a significant other.
I was interviewing for a job that I was just dying to have. After 6 months of pursing the opportunity I was finally able to go in and talk to the hiring official. Just so you know I practice what I preach so when I walked into his office I noticed that he did not have anything personal in his office other than the picture of this beautiful bride, The bride magazines would be envious of this picture. The man who was interviewing me, whom I found out later was the President of the company, looked to be about 60 and was so hard core and by the book I was thinking that connecting with him was going to be a lost cause. Try as I may I could not find anything to break through the ice with other than that picture so I took the chance and commented on it. The interchange went something like this. Mr. Smith, not his real name; I could not help but notice the picture on your desk. What a pretty bride. Is that your daughter? He pauses for a long moment and almost indignantly says "no that is a picture of my wife". I wanted to crawl under the chair I was sitting on but being quick on my feet I say "Oh my what a lucky man you must be". At which time he says "luck had nothing to do with it young man. So if we can come together on a wage when could you start?" "I can start with a two week notice to my current employer Sir." "Excellent he says, the HR people will work out the particulars. We are all looking forward to having you on the team."
I met his wife later at a Christmas party and she was the loveliest person you would ever wish to meet. Following our introduction, she grabs me by the elbow and pulls me aside and asks me to tell the story. "I said I am sorry, I am not sure what story you mean." "She says yes you do; tell me about the day you made the old bear smile."
  • Do not freak out: During almost every interview I have been a part of either the interviewer or you or both of you say something that does not absolutely thrill the other one. Don't freak out this is normal. This is an interview. It is a two way conversation. If every thing they tell you is wonderful then something is wrong. A business is a place filled with lots of different types of people and there is no perfect business. Business cycles up and down with many factors. If they say something you do not like ask more questions. If you say something they seem not to like perhaps you need to explain a bit more.

  • Do not trash former employers: Regardless if the last bunch of people you worked with or for where an inept bunch of fire breathing, drunken, sex crazed monkeys do not bash them in any way. Nothing turns off a potential employer quicker than someone with a negative or vengeful attitude. If things did not work out and you where not a good match for the environment then just say that. You may say that it was a stressful work environment but then go on to talk about you accomplishments while there. You will be seen as someone who can take adversity and turn it around and make it work for you. Hey there are no perfect jobs! My grandfather use to say "hey if it wasn't work they would not pay you for it right." If they have already checked your background they may know that this was a difficult place to work and they are trying to see how you deal with adversity.

  • Do not have a negative attitude. People love positive people. They are naturally drawn to them and that is what you are looking for in the interview scenario right? So be positive and project a positive attitude. Be prepared to talk about how you took negative situations and made positive ones out of them. Now mind you do not be a braggart but you are there to tell them what you have done and convince them about what you can do. It is absolutely normal to be nervous use it be focused and be attentive.
Article Source:EzineArticles.com

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