08/01/2018 | Dee Yingst
Last month we talked about resumes so it seems fitting to talk about the next step: interviews. I’ve had occasion to do a fairly substantial number of interviews lately and it’s been…..interesting. As I look back over interviews I’ve done over the years, I’d like to give you my top five do’s and don’ts for folks going on interviews.
5. Do make sure you’ve thoroughly read the posting before the interview. Even if your resume looks good, you’ll lose your shot if it becomes painfully clear you didn’t bother to actually read the posting. If you’re not going to bother to read the posting then what are we doing here?
4. Do have some questions ready. One of my favorite questions to ask (and answer) is about the culture of the organization. A culture question will tell you a lot about your prospective employer, including whether you really want to work there. Another good one, depending on the position, can be what a typical day might look like.
3. Do dress for the job. No need to break out the designer duds, but at least look like you didn’t sleep in your clothes. If you’re interviewing for a professional office, don’t show up in jeans and a polo shirt. Conversely, if you’re interviewing for a job in a manufacturing environment leave the high heels at home. Invest in a blazer or sport coat; it’s a great way to change an outfit to either dress it up or down depending on what you see when you approach the building.
2. Do your research. Looking me up on LinkedIn doesn’t count as researching the organization. If it becomes obvious in the first 10 minutes that you have absolutely no idea what the organization does or what the job entails, it will show. Believe it.
1. Do relax and let your personality shine through. I’m interviewing you, not the 15 articles you read telling you how to answer questions. Besides, if you sound really, really rehearsed that’s not going to impress me (I tend to conduct a more open and free-flowing interview so those articles won’t help as much as you think anyway). Remember, there’s a difference between being prepared and being rehearsed – it’s an interview not a Broadway play.
5. Don’t assume you know everything about the organization. As we talked about in number 2 above, you should have some background information on the organization but don’t make the mistake of saying you “know” the organization. I had an interview once where the applicant actually cut me off as I started to explain the structure of the organization by telling me he already knew all about it so I needn’t explain. I’ll let you imagine how quickly the decision was made about that applicant.
4. Don’t show up empty handed. We’re not two friends meeting for tea, it’s an interview. Treat it like one – have extra copies of your resume, something to write on and with. Use them.
3. Don’t assume because you’ve held a similar job that you know all about this one. Every organization is different and will have a different take on similar positions. I’m happy to hear how you handled things in your previous positions but don’t tell me that you don’t need the job explained to you because you’ve done it before. Remember the guy I told you about in number 5? Same fate.
2. Barring a natural disaster, don’t be late. Telling me you’re late because you couldn’t find parking just isn’t going to work. That may sound harsh, but determining the location of the interview and the parking situation is part of the preinterview research process. Don’t skip this step.
1. Don’t lie. You would think I wouldn’t have to spell this one out, but sadly it still must be said. If you tell me in the interview that you lost your job several months ago yet your resume says you’re still employed – that’s a problem. If you were terminated from a job because [fill in issue here] then just say so and tell me what you’ve learned from the experience (if you’re going to rehearse anything, this would be the one). I’ve hired people who have been fired from previous jobs who were able to articulate the reasons [without bad-mouthing the prior employer] and talking about what they learned from the experience. A termination is only a life sentence if you make it one.
Some advice I always give when asked by job seekers is this: Interviewing is a two-way street – the company has to want to hire you and you have to want to be there. How you’re treated in the interview process can often be an indicator of the culture of the organization. If you’re being treated poorly during this process then I would encourage you to run – not walk but run – to the next interview. Two-way street. Remember that.
Best of luck – May you find the organization that is looking for you.