Nailing an Interview to Build a Career – The Top 4 Do’s and Don’ts
A special thanks to Betterfly.com who invited me to guest write this blog. Launching soon, Betterfly is a free service that matches you with the people and resources that can help you be better at anything. We’ve found that being better at something — whether it’s accordion, chess or yoga — depends largely on finding the instructor, teacher or coach who’s best for you.
Thankfully, an interview is not really what we fear most – it is not a firing line where you have to convince another human being of your worth. Instead, it is an amazing opportunity to showcase your talents, your background, and the utterly unique contribution you can make to another group of people. But in order to showcase how amazing you are, there ARE a few pitfalls you want to avoid. Here are the top four do’s and don’ts for interviewing.
#1 Don’t: Whatever you do, don’t go into the interview unprepared.
Do: The internet provides almost limitless portals into what a corporation is all about. Go in knowing what the company’s mission statement is. Have an idea of how they have performed in the last few years. Get a basic understanding of their products or services. Know the five key points: Who, What, Where, When and How. Give it that hour or two of research and you will at least provide enough meaningful discourse to hold their attention.
#2 Don’t: Don’t let fear get the better of you. There is simply no replacement for practice makes perfect. If you’re having a very hard time, hire a job coach to walk you through the typical (and not-so-typical) interview questions. Knowing your story and background, the job coach can actually help you script a few great answers. At the very least, you will be able to access a few key lines about your unique skill set and why you would be the perfect fit for any team. I will say that some great coaches are very affordable, and it’s the best investment you can make. But if it’s simply beyond your means, pick up a book and ask your closest friend or colleague to role play with you. The more prepared you are, the less opportunity for nerves to get the better of you.
Do: MOCK INTERVIEW.
#3 Don’t: Don’t overlook the basics. Do show up ten minutes early (remember, earlier is eager, later is risky). Do wear a traditional, crisp outfit to the interview – you can add just a splash of style with a brightly colored scarf or a jazzier pair of shoes – but remember, they should remember you for your TALENT, not your feathered boa or your jade hoop earrings. Do LISTEN more than you speak. You want to answer their questions, not run for office. And don’t forget the MOST important basic, send a thank you note after the interview – both by email and in a card through the mail. It helps the team in question to remember a few days later in their hiring process.
#4 Don’t: Don’t EVER criticize an old employer. Criticizing prior employers or speaking ill of managers or teams speaks to a person’s sense of loyalty AND confidentiality. It doesn’t matter if your last boss was a tyrant, you MUST remain respectful at all times.
Do: Do simply respond to questions with polite non-specifics, such as, “I had really gone as far in that company as possible.”
My final tip to you all is simply a DO. Do bring your professional references with you. (No, your mother-in-law and your best friend from college don’t count – keep it business oriented.) If you have one or two brief testimonial letters, that would be a great addition to the file of references you hand over at the end. Make sure that your references know that you’re using them. And remember, if you don’t want your current employer to know you’re looking, DO NOT use them as a reference.
After 30 years in the staffing and job coaching world, these are the TOP do’s and don’ts I would offer any of my best applicants or closest friends. These are the building blocks for a hugely successful interview. Once you have a series of successful interviews, believe me, the RIGHT job will open up for you.
To your continued success,
Catherine Palmiere, CEIC, CPBA, CPCC, CPC, CTS, CSS
Adam Personnel, Inc.
(212) 557-9150 ext 208