Today’s post is written by Scott Trossen of the Trossen HR Group.
Congratulations! You landed an interview. Before you meet a recruiter or hiring manager at Starbucks or their office, you probably will have had a phone interview. Maybe you were asked to use new technology to record video answers to written questions. Now what? How can you be best prepared to go face-to-face? The following four P’s will help.
Principle #1. I hope it goes without saying you must be P: Prepared to answer questions. This includes vague ones like, “Tell me about yourself” and hard ones like, “It looks like you were let go from ____ company – what happened?” As for those who teach you how to dodge questions and avoid answering, ignore that advice. Really, do you think I am willing to have someone work for me who doesn’t talk truthfully? Do you want to work for someone who easily accepts bad data?
Principle #2. Exhibit P: Poise. Come across diligent but not desperate, even if you don’t have money for next month’s rent. (And don’t make other common mistakes.) I won’t hire a person who does not take the interview process seriously, nor do I want to feel you are so anxious as to take any job offer and run the risk you will leave once your life is back in order.
Once before interviewing, I thought to myself, “There must be a hundred candidates and a dozen better qualified than me.” So I decided to push a bit, come on a little stronger in order to move myself up against the competition. “What have I got to lose?” I asked. As it turns out, the job. I was notified of not being hired. I wanted to find out why – I called, thanked the manager for the opportunity to interview, and politely asked for feedback. He paused, then said, “You were our top candidate coming into the interviews…” (my heart sank) “…but because of the way you came across, we did not think you would be a good fit in our culture.” There is another side to this story. What if they had hired me? The guy I portrayed in the interview was not the real me. Had that company liked the interview-me, they would have been disappointed to not find him every day at work.
Principle #3. Demonstrate P: Promise. Let’s be clear – be the best YOU. Wear a suit, including on a video interview. Don’t ask what to wear, just dress up. Guys, if you are told not to wear a tie, wear a sport coat and dress shirt. Either way, polish your shoes and cut your nails. If you are aging, men, I don’t want to see hair growing out of your ears. Your cell phone must be off before you leave the car, not just set to vibrate. Ladies, cleavage is TMI unless you want that to define your career aspirations. Really, that’s the best blouse you own? Bring a notepad with questions to ask already written down. And then, take some notes.
Some of you are thinking, “Who does these things?” Sadly, about every other candidate commits these errors. This is not Motel 6 and, no, I am not leaving the light on for you. That great commercial series can be a reminder the interviewer is not here to serve you.
This principle also includes doing what your resume must – ensure your words and body language communicate positive attitude, specific abilities, and past accomplishments.
Principle #4. Make the P: Pitch. At the close of the interview ask for something. “If I don’t hear from you first, may I call next [one week later] morning, say around 8:45? Might that be a good time for you?” End with a gracious thank you, then set up at least two reminders so you call at precisely the agreed upon follow-up time.
Understand that often, like 90% of the time, it takes longer for a next-step or offer-no offer decision to be made than the hiring manager says, let alone wants. Be patient. If you had a face-to-face interview and are not selected to go forward, you should get an email saying so but this may not happen. It is reasonable to try to call (not so often the person recognizes your phone number) and ask for an update, though sometimes you won’t get any clear feedback.
Even so, never harm the relationship. You never know who knows who or when you will meet the same interviewers again.
Scott’s company the Trossen HR Group provides HR consulting and outsourcing to small and mid-size organizations.