Monday, August 5, 2013
Uncle Dusty's Guide to Job Interviews
I’ve been in involved in selecting new hires for government and private sector for the past 15 years and I am here to tell you, most interviews are painful because most people aren't skilled in this area. There are so few people who have great interview skills, even at top levels. As the summer draws to a close and many of you are looking for work, herewith are a few tips to help you land your dream job. Or at least that job you’ll take until your dream job opens up. FYI, the job of stopping bad drivers and taking their licenses is MY dream job, so back off.
1. Before you apply for any position, have someone proof read your resume. To ensure you don’t miss any errors read you should read your resume backwards. It won’t make sense and each word spelling will stand out. Spell check only finds words that are misspelled; not the wrong word spelled correctly.
2. Make each resume specific for the job for which you’re applying. Do not put generic information about vague career goals. I want to know why you want to work for me in my specific department in my specific business, not that you want to “enter an exciting career where you can put to use your skills.” Everybody everywhere wants that. It’s like saying ‘World Peace’ in a beauty pageant. And on that note, the Miss America and Miss America Outstanding Teen programs offer amazing opportunities for young women to learn interview skills. Dudes, all you have is me.
3. Always dress appropriately for your interview:
Men: This means no shorts, ever. No matter the job, at the very least wear khakis and a button down, even if it’s Fun Time Water Park or Tractor Supply. If your job will be indoors, wear a tie.
Women: This means no mini-skirts or belly shirts, ever. Unless you are applying for a job at Hooter’s. Then you are on your own and should be somewhat ashamed of yourself.
4. You are a product. Learn to sell your product. If you can’t sell you, who can? I am looking to pay money for a product. Tell me why I should buy your product. What are the specifics of your product? Why should I buy you? Don’t try to sell me a ’73 Vega when I want a ’13 Lexus. If you think you are a ’73 Vega, maybe you shouldn’t be applying for jobs.
5. Never answer any question with, “I don’t know.” If you’re not familiar with a process or don’t have that specific experience, tell me what you do you have. For example, you could say, “While I haven’t worked with the SQ9000 inventory system, I did reorganize the inventory at ABC Company and I feel I could quickly learn your system.” Give me something that shows your ability to think on your feet.
6. Give specific examples of your achievements; details are important. How much you increased sales, how you standardized processes, how you analyzed data and used that information to increase efficiency, how many people you trained in how many weeks, etc. If you are new to the workforce, tell me some achievements from school or extra-curricular activities. Volunteer work is still work.
7. If you are afraid to brag in an interview, you don’t need to be in that interview. If you don’t think you’re awesome, why should I?
8. On that note, yes, you may be wonderful but you’re not that wonderful. Nobody is that wonderful. Don’t be arrogant, be confident. There is a difference.
9. Most careers are about managing relationships. Tell me how you develop and maintain working relationships. Do not say, “I am a people person”. Everyone is a people person. Okay, maybe not Charles Manson, Nancy Grace or my Dad, but most everyone else.
10. Always be early for your interview. DO NOT BE LATE…EVER! When it is somewhere around 10 minutes before your appointment, present yourself to the assistant/receptionist/secretary and say, “I’m here for an interview with Mr./Mrs. BlahBlah. I know I’m a little early. Thank you.” Then sit and wait, politely and quietly and not playing candy crush on your cell phone. For that matter, do not bring your cell phone into the interview. To be taken seriously as a candidate for a job, you must show yourself to be serious about the job. If you don’t think I won’t ask my assistant about how you interacted with her, you are wrong.
11. Research the business you want to join. Visit their website. Talk to some of their employees. Learn specifics. You’d be surprised how few people actually do that. Stand out from the crowd and outscore your competition.
12. Make sure you talk about all the things you feel you should in the interview, but don’t overshare. If you are questioning whether you are over-sharing, you probably are.
13. If you don’t get the opportunity to mention something you feel I need to know, take time at the end of the interview, when I ask, “Is there anything else you’d like me to know?”, to add pertinent information and leave me with a picture of why I should select you. The last thing I should be thinking when you leave the room is “THAT is who I’m hiring”, not “Wow, THAT was painful” or “Really? He wore a sweatshirt?” Both of those scenarios have happened.
14. Always thank the interviewer and whomever else with whom you interacted. Send a thank you note or e-mail the next day to the interviewer or panel. Do not send a thank you text, ever.
15. If you haven’t heard from me in the time frame I gave you, call me for a status on the selection process. You should never be annoying but you should show your interest. If you’re questioning whether you’re annoying, you probably are.I hope this helps you, but if you have any questions, just let me know. I am driven, driven, to help others. I’m a giver, y’all. It’s what I do. And that is all I’m saying.