A few years ago I began to have that little itch that kept telling me it was time for a career change. I had been managing a company for a couple of years and I was bored, tired and had no motivation whatsoever. I had no idea what to search for so I did what I usually do, surf the web until I could find something that caught my eye. I was updating my profile and details on LinkedIn when I came across a familiar name, a very well known person in Advertising who owned the largest advertising company in the region. Without thinking twice I dropped him a line, just a friendly note with a little invitation to sit and chat and see if there was anything we could work on together.
A week later he wrote back to me, he was fascinated by my boldness and courage to write him out of the blue, he liked it so much that he asked me to drive over for an interview.
The next few weeks after that first meeting were a challenge, by mere coincidence they were looking for someone to manage a small startup company and they were considering me for the job. During those weeks I was interviewed not once but four times! My initial interview was with the “the man”, the president of the agency whom I had initially contacted. After that I was interviewed by the Human Resources Department, the Head of the Creative Department and finally by the Head of the Financial Department… quite the challenge!
Needless to say, I did so much research on what to do and what not to do that I aced every single interview until I got the job!
In this ever-changing job market, it is hard to tell when or where you will have the interview of your life, each one should be treated as if it’s the last and most important interview you will ever have. In my case, I knew these four people would eventually meet and compare notes, I had to make sure I was consistent and made a lasting impression on each and every one of them.
There’s many “do’s and don’ts” when it comes to interviews, always make sure you know them all and keep them in mind. We are all different and everybody interviews in their own particular way, the slightest slip could cost you a job. Here’s a complete list of all the little things you must keep in mind for your next interview:
- research the company and the person with whom you are meeting, know everything about them
- be upfront about any sensitive information such as disabilities, timetable, etc
- ask questions about the company and the job (never salary!)
- listen! Think before answering questions
- take a pen and a small notebook in case you are asked to write something down
- take extra copies of your resume
- know your resume and your references by heart!
- use the bathroom before the interview so that you don’t have to excuse yourself
- remember the name of the person you’re meeting with
- dress for the job, the company, the industry
- arrive about 10 minutes early
- slip a mint before the interview and make sure you’re done with it before you start
- shower, clean your nails and your shoes!
- greet the receptionist or assistant politely, this is your chance of a first impression
- fill in any forms neatly and completely
- shake hands firmly (hopefully without clammy hands!)
- ask for clarification if you don’t understand a particular question
- accept a refreshment if offered
- be prepared to explain major gaps in your employment history
- avoid controversial topics
- make notes after you’re done so that you don’t forget critical details
- thank the interviewer for their time
- make sure you leave knowing the next step of the process
- write a thank you e-mail within the next 24 hours
- ever lie or skip vital information on your resume or during the interview
- over personalize your resume or any conversation
- talk about salary expectations or benefits unless it is brought by the interviewer
- over rehearse, prepare yourself and just act naturally
- be late! If you don’t know where the location is, find out and do a practice run to know how long it takes you to get there
- use excessive perfume or makeup
- chew gum
- make excuses, about anything!
- ask for coffee or refreshments
- accept a sudden job offer, ask politely if you can take it home for the night to think it over
- refer to the interviewer by his or her first name
- express intolerance or prejudice
- take notes during the interview, do it once you’re done
- give the impression you’re only interested in the job because of location
- rely on your application or resume to do the selling for you
- wear any clothes that show your sweat! (or anything else that shouldn’t be showing)
- tell jokes during the interview
- fidget or slouch, always sit upright and look alert (not stuff)
- smoke, even if you are offered! (Don’t smell like smoke either)
- use slang or pause words (like, huh, um, etc)
- be soft spoken
- be overly aggressive or interrupt, focus on conversation
- dress too formal just to be taken seriously
- act as if you are desperate for employment or show that you’ll take any job
- ever say anything negative about past employers or former colleagues
- offer any negative information about yourself
- answer questions with just a yes or a no, explain and give examples
- take your parents, kids or pets - discuss personal issues or family problems
- answer your mobile phone, turn it off or set it on silent.
Last but not least, practice! Although most of these suggestions are common sense, you’d be surprised how many of us forget them and then bash our heads after a bad interview. Practice makes perfect so grab a friend or a family member and make sure you’ve nailed each and every one of them!