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With unemployment rates at stubbornly high levels, the stakes have never been higher for job hunters facing an interview.
For many unemployed applicants who are trying to return to the workforce, it may have been a long time since they faced an interview. Others may have faced many recent interviews but have somehow failed to land the elusive job offer. Either way, anyone going to an interview should keep in mind these simple tips to acing their first meeting with their next employer…
- Do your research. Spend some time looking up the history of the company and its ownership. Use social networking sites like LinkedIn to see if you might already know some employees.
- Show up five minutes early – but no earlier. Don’t arrive too early and sit uncomfortably in the reception area. And whatever you do, don’t show up late. Present yourself five minutes before the scheduled time, and no earlier.
- Watch your body language. Experts constantly remind us that much of our communication is nonverbal. Therefore, offer a firm handshake and then relax, maintain eye contact, and smile. Also remember to acknowledge those speaking to you by nodding in agreement.
- Bring additional copies of your resume. Most interviews are conducted with multiple people, and it’s by no means assured that each will have been given a copy of your resume. Bring along a professional-looking binder that contains several good copies of your resume.
- Take notes. Within your binder, keep a notepad and a nice pen for taking notes. This is also an excellent place to store any business cards you might be given.
- Don’t interrupt. People love to hear themselves talk, especially once they’ve achieved a position that allows them to hire others. I once sat through a 45-minute interview where a manager barely let me say a word. I listened intently and said nothing – and received a job offer the next day.
- Be authentic. I’ve been told by several hiring managers that they always walk into an interview with their “phony detector” on. Once an employer senses that a person isn’t being completely truthful about even a small detail, the candidate may have lost all of his or her credibility.
- Treat everyone like they’re the decision-maker. When an airline flies a potential new employee to their headquarters, it’s possible they’ll ask the airport staff and flight crew for their impressions of the candidate. Likewise, other companies will ask receptionists and assistants of their impressions of the potential hire. When visiting a company, act like any person you meet may have a say in the hiring decision.
- Ask good questions. Every interview I’ve ever been on ends with the interviewer asking me if I have any questions. Since awkward silences are not what they’re looking for, come prepared with few basic queries. Good questions can include asking about the work environment, the best parts about working there, or what would be the next step of their hiring process. Don’t ask about salary or benefits until the employer brings up the subject as part of a job offer.
- Stay positive. Try not to say anything bad about current or former employers and colleagues, as your comments may reflect more poorly on yourself than others. Even if you left a terrible company on bad terms, you can describe the situation as a good learning experience.
Interviews are not just about business, they are about selecting the kind of person that an employer wants spend each workday with. By smiling and projecting some confidence, you can strive to come across both as a good person to be around, and the right employee for the job.