In these trying economic times, tons of us are job hunting. The interview for a job is often the most harrowing part of the process; little things you don’t think about can actually make or break your chances of getting hired. I actually learned some new things about acing your interview during class review for my job. Here is a list of what I learned:
Keeping up appearances:
- DRESS UP! No one can stress this enough. It doesn’t matter if you’re applying to be a company’s CEO or their janitor, you should take pride in your appearance & show that you care about the job. At the bare minimum, wear slacks & a crisp button down shirt in a solid color or a muted print. If you’re like me & work in the medical field, wear one of your uniforms. If they wear their own uniforms or have a certain dress style, you will be briefed on that during the interview.
- Minimal jewelry. If you’re married, your wedding rings are fine. As for everything else, stick with a watch & simple post earrings or very small hoops (if you can fit more than your pinkie finger through the hoop, it’s too big for work). Take out or put retainers in visible body piercings & cover any visible tattoos. Personally I don’t care about those because they don’t impact how you do your job but not everyone as open minded.
- For the ladies, less is more when it comes to make up. We all have our tastes but in the work place, keep it simple. Neutral eye shadows, natural blush & neutral lip colors. I use my everyday lipstick shade because it’s a natural pink & it suitable for the job. (Maybelline Pink Wink #105 if you’re curious). Or if you feel confident enough, skip make up entirely.
- Skip scents entirely. Allergies are on the rise & that wicked awesome Juicy Couture perfume may trigger it for someone in the office. In fact in many doctors offices, they have a sign on the front door saying don’t come in if you’re wearing any. And for those who wear scented deodorants, be careful of those too if the smell is very strong.
Before you go:
- Eat a good meal before your interview. You’re probably wondering why this is here but it has a purpose I assure you. A good meal will give you energy to focus, especially since you don’t know if they will ask you to demonstrate a job skill on the spot or ask you a bunch of questions. It’s hard to focus when you’re hungry & your stomach is growling.
- Have a professional, appropriate email address. I’m a huge Anime fanatic but I don’t think my job would email me back seeing my Sailor Moon inspired email address. Go to yahoo, hotmail or any free email provider to make up a business appropriate email. JSmyth86@yahoo.com is more professional than Sexygrrl69@yahoo.com. They look at the email addresses on applications. At my school we had to have an approved working email address before they approved our resumes for job submission.
- Carry extra copies of your resume. You never know when you will need it or if they will want to keep the one you provided. My school sets us up on job interviews & sometimes I have to drop what I’m doing to get to the site. I always carry at least 5 copies in my school bag & portfolio for such a case. If not, I take a card & email it promptly.
- Make copies of your license(s) & certification(s) if you need to show proof. They may want to compile them for your record so it’s good to have extras.
The interview process:
- Don’t look at your phone in the waiting room. Often times, a job wants to test your patience. Even if you check the time, it doesn’t look good to be using your phone in the office (now is a good time to advise you to buy a watch). If you check your phone for references, I suggest doing that before you get there. Write down 4 relatives & 4 non-relatives on a neat piece of paper. That looks better than scrolling down your phone while filling out a job application.
- Don’t make jokes. You’re not at a party. If you don’t know what to say, it’s better to remain silent & think rather than play a joke to buy some time or say “um….er…ah…”. Silence looks more professional. If you honestly can’t answer the question, tell the interviewer your don’t have an answer at the moment if you think you’re taking too long & ask if you can come back it.
- Eye contact. This was the MAIN thing I had to work on because I don’t look right in people’s faces when talking & I use a lot of hand gestures. Try practicing in the mirror or with friends. My trick is to fold my hands in my lap & poke my palm with my thumb if I feel the urge to look around. It’s my discreet way to relax my nerves & to keep my hands occupied.
- Ask questions. This is very important & people tend to overlook this opportunity. It shows you’re interested in the company & future position. If you were set up for the interview in advance, google the company (make sure it’s the correct one) & read up on what they do & what your position would be. Warning: this is not the time to negotiate salary or vacation. Save that for after you’re hired.
- Carry your own pens. This shows that you’re prepared. Blue or black only, especially on legal documents.
- Ask for the interviewer’s business card to write a thank you note/email. If he/she doesn’t have one, ask for their email address & write the note or email within 48 hours thanking them for their time.
- If you’re still in school, add that to your resume along with your expected date of graduation. Example: ABC College majoring in Medical Assisting. Graduating November 2011 with honors.
- Don’t chew gum or suck on candy. It may not be allowed where you are & doesn’t look professional.
- If you have a ride, make sure they have something to do while you’re inside. You may be there for a while (plus side: the longer they keep you, the more optimistic the outcome. If they don’t like you, they end the interview quicker).
- Don’t be dismayed if they don’t offer you the job on the spot. Often times the company interviews dozens of people to make sure they have the right person for the job. Stay positive! After a week, call & ask about the position. They will tell you if the position has been filled or if they’re still deciding. After 2 weeks, let it go & keep looking elsewhere.