It’s no secret that jobs are scarce. Don’t be misled by encouraging downward trends in unemployment – a lot of the new jobs being created are of the low-level service variety. Quality, career-type positions are few in number and applicants are many. Add in the fact that today’s companies are terrified of making a bad hire, due to the intense dedication of money and resources involved in bringing on a new staff member plus legal ramifications of firing someone, and finding a job that will let you achieve your professional and personal aspirations is tougher than ever.
But it can be done. However, the key to obtaining the kind of job that will advance your career is acing your job interview. The interview is absolutely crucial to getting hired, and demonstrating you have the necessary skills and background is only a small portion of what you must accomplish. Here are 6.5 fresh steps to acing your next job interview.
- Do Your Homework. You need to do a lot of research before the interview takes place. The Internet makes this task easier than in the past, but you still need to check out the company’s website, as well as websites of its major competitors. Do a Google search of the company, its executives and its industry to find out what challenges it is facing. Also it may reveal important details about executives you will speak with, such as their alma maters, social activities, etc. you can use to personalize your conversation. If possible, discreetly visit the company’s lobby to get a sense of what people are wearing and how they act.
- Appearance counts. You are essentially hired (or not hired) in the first 30 seconds of the interview. Your potential employer decides very quickly if you are right for the job or not, and the rest of the conversation serves to prove or disprove this first impression. The very first thing your interviewer(s) will see is your personal appearance. Are your hair and nails freshly groomed? Are you wearing tailored business attire that is in line with current fashion but not too “trendy”? Is your breath fresh and are you well-rested but alert? Do you carry a quality leather attache case and have professionally printed business cards and resumes to distribute? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” make sure it becomes “yes” before your interview occurs!
- Talk to everyone. Even if you arrive on time (I’m assuming you know enough to never be late, and ideally should be 10-15 minutes early), you will likely be asked to wait for at least a few minutes before the interview starts. If there is a receptionist in the waiting area, engage them in pleasant conversation. Also smile and say hello to anyone who passes by. Do not ask any questions or initiate in-depth conversations (remember everyone will report what you say and do), but if you are lucky someone in the company might reveal a valuable piece of information, such as what type of mood your interviewer is in or how many other people have been interviewed. Plus you immediately establish yourself as a social, professional individual who makes a good impression.