In this blog, I shifted from my steadfast mission of advising business owners how to hire the right candidates for the job to the candidates themselves. Why? Because I don't wish unemployment upon anyone and we need workforce resurgence in these United States. It starts with you, if one of the unfortunate ones still out of work. I want to help you succeed at interviewing and finding a career; one that you can be happy with. Whether you have been job-hunting for a few days or for a few months there is some simple advice you will want to know first. Over the past weeks I have been revealing interviewing secrets one by one, but I'm impatient, so this week I am going to discuss all Ten Truths for Job-Seeking Candidates.
First off, let's review what has gotten us up to this point:
Truth One: Your Decision Comes First. You've got to first decide that you are the only person for the job (or at least the best), you want it and you're going to get it.
Truth Two: A Good Resume Gets You in the Door. A professional resume with a good, personal cover letter is a must have -- in hard copy or electronic version.
Truth Three: Like a Boy Scout, Be Prepared. While I'm not campaigning that employers will be nosy and search through every candidate's online presence, if you are currently job-hunting you have to know that it is a very strong possibility that employers will check you out online.
Truth Four: Prep Your References, Duh! Possibly the worst thing to happen before you attend an interview, or even worse after you've interviewed and the company is interested, is having unprepared references.
Truth Five: Dress For Success. Presentation is always of the utmost importance. Numerous research studies state that a prospective candidate has about 60 to 90 seconds to make an impression.
Truth Six: Tell a Story; Be Remembered. Consider the role of the interviewer for a moment; they've sat through twenty interviews with nameless, faceless, walking résumés and the only thing they remember is the hilarious recollection of Grumpy.
(For more details on Truths 1-6, refer to my last six weeks of blogs... today we're bringing it home!)
Truth Seven: Interview the Interviewer. The interview itself will reveal the amount of homework you did concerning the position and your general understanding of the production area for which you are being hired. Look for openings to demonstrate some of this knowledge and your industrious perspective.
Casually remark to the interviewer that you want to clarify your understanding of the qualifications the company is seeking and then roll out your extensive knowledge. This will demonstrate initiative and confidence regarding your role in the future of the company. This knowledge could be as simple as knowing the latest products. For example, interviewing at an advertising agency, you'd want to know the campaigns on which the company recently worked and the way you relate to at least one of those projects.
Truth Eight: "I'm nervous" is a No-no. Relax. Take a deep breath and relax. Now smile. Don't express your nervousness to a prospective employer. "I'm so nervous" blows it right then and there. Even if you are, it is rarely noticed. Remember they've never met you before, so you are your only (and worst) critic.
Shaky nerves could instantly disqualify you for a position. There may be some stress involved with the responsibilities of the position or in the work environment and you don't want them thinking, "if you can't handle a simple interview, how are you going to deal with the everyday pressures of this job." It may be silly or outlandish for me to say and is hopefully unnecessary but make sure to use antiperspirant/deodorant before leaving home for your interview!
Don't talk too much! That's another sure tell sign of nervousness. Ensure you don't run-on babbling about your life story or any other subject. Just be polite and listen carefully to what they have to say. Give direct answers to their questions that are complete, express your knowledge of the subject matter and experience or desire to gain that knowledge and experience. Overdoing it by talking too much will lose your leverage for a position as much as saying too little. You have to think with the purpose of the interview and what the interviewer needs to know to make their decision.
Truth Nine: "When can I start?" Is a Yes-yes. It is customary at the conclusion of most every interview for the interviewer to ask if you have any other questions. And assuming you really want this job, you do. This could be though, one of the toughest questions you will ever utter. I tend to think it's right up there with "Will you marry me?" and classic lines like that.
"When can I start?" There is this dichotomy for you. You are most likely nervous and excited but you need to communicate with a resolute confidence. You want the job and as my mother always told me "you don't ever get anything you don't ask for" so ask "When can I start?" Politely and with a smile, acknowledging that the usual expected answer is we'll call you or some other non-committal reply. But, ask nonetheless. It reiterates your desire and decision to get started on your career with their team.
Truth Ten: Follow-up or You've Given Up. Thank you notes are essential, critical and vital to follow-up. Always send a thank you note. Period.
Especially with the volatile economic atmosphere nowadays, the time of executives and Human Resource professionals is limited and valuable. Keep that in mind. The simple gesture of writing to thank them for their time and consideration of you as candidate will speak volumes for your character and may just move you up a few levels in a pile of prospects. You may, surprisingly, be the only interviewee to bother to do this simple act of courtesy.
Make sure the card used is like the note... simple, conservative and professional. It should be neatly handwritten (not typed) on a simple plain blank greeting card or thank you card stock. If you can also make a short mention of something about you that came up in the meeting, that will remind them of who you are, and that helps too. Take heed to not overdo it, though. A very simple "Thank you for your time and consideration" will go a long way further than rambling on about all the reasons, that you forgot to mention in the interview, why they should consider you now.
Conclusion: If you really want it, you can get the job! The whole area of hiring and indeed getting hired can be a difficult and emotional one. Keep positive and you will succeed. I hope I've helped you.
Lastly, I want to make a special mention for something very close to my heart U.S. Armed Forces Veterans. I come from a military family line and I have the honor of keynote speaking at an upcoming Job Expo for Veterans. You can find out more about this new, unique approach to getting 25,000-plus Veterans employed in 2013 at www.ivetx.com
All 10 Truths for both Candidates & Employers and more tips are in my book at www.thenakedinterview.com.