Do you feel like you are going door to door, begging for an opportunity to work? Do you feel like you’re “trick or treating” for a job? Before you decide that no one is hiring, think about what you might be doing to scare your interviewer.
Not sure what we mean? Things like being late, making a poor first impression, leaving your phone on, not asking any questions and using a lot of filler words when you speak can scare your interviewer and reduce your chances of a job offer. Here are some reminders to help you avoid this scary situation:
1) Don’t Be late
AGAIN….Don’t be late. Being late for an interview will almost certainly eliminate you from contention. Being late tells an employer that you are not really interested in the position and that you have poor time management skills. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior and no one wants to hire someone that they think will have an attendance problem. And really, think about it. Do you want to show up, have a moment to collect your thoughts and take a deep breath and calmly walk through the door? Or do you want to rush in, frazzled, apologizing for your tardiness and just start the interview? Don’t be late. In fact, be early….because in the case of job interviews, early is on time.
2) Don’t make a weak first impression
Your first impression should tell your future employer that you are confident and have appropriate communication skills. In addition to being on time, make a good first impression by having a firm handshake and making good eye contact. Speaking of first impressions, have you listened to your message on your voicemail recently? Does your voice mail message portray the message that you are a professional and appropriate person? If it doesn’t, change it. It is perfectly fine to have a fun, personalized message filled with nicknames and background music….just not while you’re looking for a job. Keep it professional and simple. In addition, think about your email address. You might love a good party, but firstname.lastname@example.org does not exactly scream “responsible employee.” When looking for a job, consider creating a professional email address if your personal email address is a little too personal.
3) Do NOT leave your phone turned on.
Do NOT leave your phone on during a job interview. We repeat….Do not check your phone. Do not reply to a text. Do not send an email. Do not listen to your voice mail. Do not update your social medial accounts. Just put it away. And yes, we really needed to say this. (Speaking of phones, do not update your social medial account with your impressions of the interviewer, the company or the job after you leave either.)
4) Ask good questions.
Before you leave for an interview, think about 2 or 3 questions you could ask about the company or the job. Be engaged during the interview process and show the interviewer that you’ve thought about the opportunity. Note: the first interview is not the time to ask about pay and benefits, time off or how long you need to work there before you get promoted. Ask about the company’s future, or the biggest challenges the company is facing, or about the growth the company has experienced in recent years. Ask what makes an employee successful in their organization. Think about this ahead of time so you have a “go to” question if nothing else comes to mind during the conversation.
5) Don’t use a lot of, like, filler ummmmmmm words, you know?
For some, using filler words (like, ummm, yeah, you know, etc) is just a nervous habit. Do not be afraid of silence and practice speaking without using a lot of filler words that do just that: fill time when you don’t know what else to say. Rather than using filler words, say things like “Great question! Let me think about that for a second.” And then gather your thoughts and answer the question.
A job interview does not need to be scary. With a little bit of preparation on your part, you can greatly increase your odds of receiving a job offer, which is the best treat of all!