With so many people losing jobs and out of work, you need to prepare for your next job interview. When that door opens and you are given the opportunity of an interview, you need to go into it with an attitude of you’re “in it to win it”!
Here are some tips for “standing out” in your next interview. I have gleaned these from years of sitting on the boss-man side of the desk. The side that decides whether or not you will get the job.
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First, if you walk in to an interview not dressed appropriately, don’t waste my time. If your personal style is the grunge look, and you pride yourself on that dumpster diver find, but you’re not interviewing for a position as a trash truck driver (on second thought, even if you are…) clean it up. Dress a notch above the part of the job you are being hired for.
For example, if you’re going for that dot com job where everyone is a cool version of Steve Jobs and the dress code is jeans, t-shirts and flip flops, wear your nicest jeans and a collared polo with nice, clean, closed-toe shoes. You get the idea.
I can tell you that from all the interviews I have done, if someone walks in looking unsuitable for the job, the blah, blah, blah of questions that ensues is all for show. They don’t have a chance of getting the job, and I’m likely going to cut the interview short. Again, don’t waste my time.
Be confident, not arrogant.
Second, don’t be overly sure of yourself. There’s a fine line between confident and arrogant. I remember well the nice looking young man who nailed “the look” for the job but spent so much time telling me how fabulous he was that I eventually asked him this question: “You do a good job of talking the talk, but do you walk the walk?”
That question floored Mr. Arrogant. He stumbled over his answer. It wasn’t a question he expected to hear in an interview, but it called him out and, needless to say, he didn’t get the job. Another red flag with Mr. Arrogant was the number of interviews he’d been on due to not staying with any one job. His file hit the trash as soon as he walked out the door!
Manage your nervousness.
That brings me to another point. Don’t worry about being nervous. Some of the best employees I ever hired were nervous for the very reason that Mr. Arrogant wasn’t, they weren’t “practiced” with job interviews.
If you feel that your nerves are getting the best of you it’s ok to say something like, “it’s been a long time since I’ve been on an interview and I’m kind of nervous”. We’re all human and if you say that, and the boss gives you grief for it, you probably wouldn’t want to work for that cold-hearted person anyway.
That said, if your job is in public relations where you need to meet people with confidence, Do Not show your nerves or admit to your nervousness. I’ve been in many situations where I’ve felt my nerves getting the best of me but one trick I’ve used is to focus on keeping one part of my body relaxed. Try it. It can be your hands, or your brow, or shoulders. Go ahead and steal that tip from me. I hope it works for you.
Emphasize your loyalty and dependability.
Of course you want to put your best foot forward, but to get a leg up in the interview, be sure that in addition to highlighting your skills and experience you impart how dependable and loyal you are. Employers know how much employee turnover costs the bottom line. Hiring and training are costly endeavors for companies so talk about how you’re looking to settle in and stay with the company for years. Even if you are interviewing for a job you know you don’t want to stay in for twenty years and retire with the gold watch from, do your best to commit some time to this company.
Employee candidates, who can show longevity in any job, even if it’s the sub shop, will be looked at more favorably. In my opinion, two years at one job will make your resume stand out. Anything less than that and a comparably suitable candidate will get the job over you. Presenting a repeating work history of less than a year at jobs could place you in line behind other applicants.
Give adequate notice before quitting.
Another thing that could be problematic in an intertivew is if you did not give adequate notice at your past job. Two weeks is the standard for worker bees, but if you’re one of the queen bees, you need to give 3-6 months notice, and, if you have an employment contract that specifies how long your notice should be, honor it!
If you are an employee I want working for me, and I need(ed) you yesterday (!) but you tell me you can’t start until you give notice, I feel validated with my choice of you as an employee. I’ll make do with my current staff until you get on board. I’ve never been burned by that decision and I’ll roll out the red carpet for you on your first day! Welcome aboard!
Regarding giving notice of quitting…look, you can’t know until you get in the job if it’s right for you. I’ve counseled young workers who have taken the job at the Sub Shop only to find out they’re going home after work screaming how much they hate making sandwiches all day. Don’t go home feeling ready to kick the dog or scream at your wife and kids. Please, for all I’ve said about staying in a job for a minimum of one to two years, don’t torture yourself…and be kind to your pets and family! Give your two weeks notice and move on. Do, however, consider conveniently forgetting to put that job on your resume. Potential employers don’t send private investigators out to fact check your CV-Curriculum Vitae!
How to discuss getting fired from your last job.
Heading to closing, here’s a piece of advice for how you handle your next interview after getting fired from your last job. This can get tricky. You need to practice this response because this question may come up. Be prepared to answer this with a response on the line of “we had a difference of opinion or vision” or “it was mutually advantageous for us to part ways”.
Pepper your comment with something complimentary about the company you were let go from. Whatever you come up with, DO NOT bad mouth your past employer! That is sudden death to an interview.
Good employees can and do get fired. They may have made one fatal error that the company had to let them go, or what I’ve more likely seen is employees who’ve fallen in to tough personal times where an addiction resurfaced, or physical or mental health issues affected their work. With proper planning you can answer this question in a way that won’t hurt your chances of getting the job!
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