There are so many articles about interviewing tips but if you’ve read one, you can save time by not reading the others. Rest assured they all say the same exact thing. They range from the simple, common sense tips like not talking on your cell phone while being interviewed, to not lying about your experience. Unfortunately, there are many who do just that… and they’re usually hired for management positions but what if you are interviewing for a position where honesty, hard work, people skills and experience that will bring value to the company is the key?
The fact is that these days, it is harder then ever to even land an interview. When your résumé gets past the online application robots or the hiring managers who see hundreds of résumés for each open position and you do get the honor of a personal interview, chances are you’ll be so nervous that you won’t sleep the night before and won’t be your sharpest during the grilling you’ll receive from multiple company employees. An interview is your one chance. If you make it that far, you need to be at the top of your game and kick ass if you want that job.
I like interviews. They never made me nervous because I like talking to people, seeing the inside of different companies, collecting horror stories of my odd interviewers and I have some methods that always work for me, despite my real personality. They are simple and straightforward and perhaps they will help you next time you are under the spotlight.
Chances are, if you are being flown out for an interview, you will be running all day and meeting many people. It’s just what you need after a long flight, crammed into a seat that fits hobbits. When I have been flown out to interview, I would have a minimum of eight people I would have to meet. Usually dragged from office to office by the previous interviewer, it’s a hard workout.
My advice is to get to bed 12 hours before you have to get up. If you have been flown out the night before, getting a good nights sleep in a hotel and strange bed is difficult. Take a hot bath, overdose on Exedrin PM or any over-the-counter medication that will knock you out and hit the sheets early!
Unfortunately, most companies don’t want to pay for a hotel room and you’ll be on a 6 AM flight, which means you’ll be up at 2 AM to get dressed and run to the airport. Don’t kid yourself because you won’t sleep on the plane. If you have the money for a hotel room, tell the company that you’d rather be booked to fly out the night before and you’ll book a hotel room because you “want to see a few friends or family in that area.” The company will be more than happy to book the flight and not pay for the room and it’s a tax deduction for you that is well worth it. They know it’s hard on people to fly out so early and be on their best game throughout the day but budgets are tight and I always wondered if they want you to be purposely tired, which is akin to a truth drug. I’m somewhat surprised that interviewers don’t just get you drunk to see if the liquid tongue-lubricant doesn’t help bring up deep, dark secrets.
With one job offer, I was told by the recruiter how “lucky” I was to be able to fly in and out on the same day. The flight got me in at 7 AM and I sat in the reception area for over an hour until my first interview came into work. Naturally, I was fast asleep, drooling out the side of my mouth onto the collar of my shirt. After interviewing with almost a dozen people throughout the day, I was falling asleep in my 4 PM interview. Keep a few Five-Hour Energy bottles on you because you’ll need them. Just don’t drink three at once or you’ll be viewed as a speed freak while interviewing.
The recruiter called me the next day to tell me I was being given an offer but as I didn’t care for the company culture, the yelling and arguing coming from offices I passed all day and some other telling things, I didn’t accept it. Remember, YOU are also interviewing the company and their employees!
I remember one character I interviewed who had cat hair all over his odd-fitting jacket and cat litter falling out of his portfolio. While I like animal lovers (and I suspect his animal loving was inappropriate by law in most American states), it’s important to look your best and keep every bit of your pet at home.
This is, or should be, common sense and it’s mentioned in every article on interviewing. What they don’t mention is the techniques for keeping clean during a long day of interviewing.
The age-old saying is that people judge you by your handshake. Like it or not, it’s very true. Any interviewing tips article will tell you to look someone straight in the eyes when you meet them and shake their hand firmly, but not too tight. Take your cue from the interviewer as to when to loosen your grip and release their hand. Some people hold on for too long but just keep looking in their eyes and wait for them to loosen their grip.
That’s the standard advice. I have a little trick to help you get over the blundered handshake.
The other person will probably laugh right back and shake your hand again. This time you can look at the hands coming together without losing points and you will break the tension a bad handshake creates and redeem your worthiness in the eyes of the interviewer.
Watch the grip strength and the arm pumping. One or two slight, gentle arm pumps are proper when greeting a man and just the handclasp is proper for meeting a woman. If an interviewer breaks the handshake protocol, just let it go. I once had a very large man interviewing me who almost tore my arm off with his multiple and violent arm pumping. I just smiled and waited to leave the company parking lot before breaking into tears. One interviewer squeezed my hand so hard, I thought he had broken my metacarpals. Out of shocked surprise anyone would squeeze so hard, I yelled, “WOW! THAT’S SOME GRIP!”
His secretary, who was within earshot, said, “he does that to everyone to show how strong he is.”
The handshake was so strong; I had to keep a brace and ice on my hand for three days because the dumb ass had some psychological power issues. Luckily he offered a very low salary with high demands to be willing to work 25-hour days, eight days a week and all the handshakes he could deliver. I gave him a polite, “thank you, but it’s not for me.” Luckily, that was over the phone so I didn’t have to shake his hand again while insulting him with a rejection.
Listen to the name of the person to whom you are being introduced. Repeat it back to them and repeat it in your head as you seat yourself for the interview.
“Mr. Schneider, this is your next interviewer, Ima Handcrusher.”
“Mr. Handcrusher – it’s very nice to meet you! May I have your business card, Mr. Handcrusher?”
You will also need to refer back to someone in multiple interviews. “Well, Ms. Manhater, Mr. Handcrusher told me about the company policy of not being allowed to leave my cubicle during the workday, with the exception of one bathroom break and a five-minute lunch. Could you elaborate on your rules for the slave labor the company believes it’s entitled?”
The same thing goes for all written communication. Spell the person’s name CORRECTLY! When I receive a communication from someone who wants to do business with me, I feel a perceived indifference if they don’t spell my name correctly. You don’t want that perception from someone looking to hire you. The person who shows perfect attention to the small details will take the number one spot for consideration.
The physical part of interviewing is exhausting, so you need to be ready for what can equal running a short marathon. While job searching, many experts suggest you take time to go to the gym and become physically fit, not just for the reasons outlined here (like withstanding Mr. Handcrusher’s vice-like grip) but to look good. We are judged by our outward appearance and having a fit body will impress your interviewers. It’s not that being judged by your physical appearance should define you as a worker and person but it is a fact of life that people can be shallow and judge you by outward appearance.
One important factor I feel needs mentioning is, if you are a smoker, you need to lay off the cancer sticks during the ENTIRE process. Employers who think you’ll spend time away from your desk, smoking, will count that as a strike against you as a lead candidate (it’s also a health care cost issue). For example, during a visit to another city for an interview, my flight was late getting in and I only had time to smoke between the airport door and the limo eagerly waiting to take me to my interviewer. The interview process took eight hours, including a lunch break and, if you are a smoker, you know that going eight hours without a cigarette, even while sleeping at night and an after-meal smoke, which is one of the best of the day, is very hard on a tarred pair of lungs. Skipping that and a day of nicotine can make you jumpy and put you on edge, which is not good for question and answer grilling for hours. Invest in some nicotine gum or patches to recharge the nicotine your system needs.
Also, wait until you get to the airport to light up. After the aforementioned long interview, I asked the limo driver if he wouldn’t mind waiting for me to have a cigarette. He didn’t mind and joined me in a smoke. So, there we were, chatting and smoking by the curb, in front of the company building when the HR person who led me around all day drove by and waved at me. Naturally, I waved back with the hand that held my cigarette. I wasn’t offered that job.