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So you’ve applied for your first job and got an interview. What’s next? As an experienced manager having interviewed many candidates I have complied some do’s and don’ts that can make or break your interview:
Do: Research The Company In Advance
When you submit your interest to a company the first thing you should do is learn everything you can about them: What do they do? How long has the company existed? What’s the mission statement? etc. Doing this research well in advance of the interview is crucial. The last thing I want to hear from a candidate when I ask what they know about the company is “I don’t know” or “I hear good things.” Be specific. The interviewer wants to know that you are truly interested and not just going through the motions to try to secure a job. Chances are the recruiter and/or hiring manager will ask “What do you know about this company?”
Do: Dress professionally
First impressions are key in an interview. It’s your prime opportunity present yourself to the company and show you are serious about the job opportunity. Professional dress is different than business casual. Comb your hair, brush your teeth, iron your clothes. These little steps go a long way in demonstrating a professional demeanor. Showing up in jeans or sneakers almost guarantees you will get passed over for the job. It seems like common sense, but I’ve had candidates come well under-dressed for the interview. Dress to impress!
Do: Update and Proofread Your Resume
This should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: Update your resume and proofread for spelling and grammar. Nothing says “I didn’t spend much time on my resume” than spelling errors, poorly worded and terribly formatted resumes. Often times I discard the resume and move on. If there are spelling and grammar errors on your resume chances are you are going to make the same mistakes on the job. The purpose of your resume is not to list all of your job duties in a pretty format. You are marketing yourself to a company that knows nothing about you. Cater your resume to the job you are applying for. The resume should support how well you qualify for the position in which you are interested. If you just applied to a fast food restaurant and are now interviewing with a bank, I am not interested in your daily tasks that only applied to the old job. Make your resume easy to read and don’t use outrageous fonts. Recruiters only spend a few seconds skimming resumes. Your resume should contain key words that pertain to the job. Doing so will allow the recruiter’s software to flag your resume for consideration.
Do: Study Common Interview Questions
Almost all hiring managers will ask similar, if not identical, questions. Interviewers can tell when candidates have done their homework and prepared great responses. Never say “I don’t know” or “I don’t have any weaknesses.” We all have weaknesses! The key here is to show the interviewer that you identified the weakness, put a plan together to improve and it is now a strength. If your weakness is math and you are interviewing for a banking job, chances are I’m going to pass on you unless you can show that you have taken the steps to improve. Some interviewers will use behavioral interview questions. Be prepared to go into detail as to when you had a challenge and what you did to get through it. Keep these stories to the point and keep them work-related.
Do: Arrive on Time
This is common sense, but I’ve had candidates show up 30 minutes late or even longer. You want to make a good first impression even before you walk into the building. Arrive early and know where you are going. We want you to be punctual every day should you get the job so showing up late doesn’t present a positive image.
Don’t: Ask About Salary
This is a big turn off to companies. You should never ask about the salary during an interview. If the interviewer asks you what your salary expectations are then you can talk about it, but even then gear your response towards talking about what is best for the company and not what your needs are. After all, the whole reason the company is interviewing you is to find out how well you could fit within their organization. Definitely do not put the salary expectations on your resume and do not be the first to bring it up in the recruiting process. Have an idea of what the salary is for the position and don’t provide an unrealistic number if you aren’t sure.
Don’t: Bring Food, Drink or Gum
Common sense! An interview is not a time to smack your gum, snack on food or guzzle down a pop. Save it for after the interview. If the interviewer offers you something then you may partake.
Don’t: Use Foul Language
Again, another common sense item but I have had people use words that I would never dream of using in an interview. This is totally unprofessional and will guarantee that you won’t get the job. If the position requires customer interaction you should demonstrate professional and courteous communication from the beginning.
Never lie about your work history, prior performance reviews, salary history, interview answers or references. The prospective employer will do a background check and will know the answer before they ask you the question. Honesty is always the best policy.
Don’t: Forget a Thank You Note
This small extra step that requires almost no effort is so important. If you have the hiring manager’s email address, send a thank you email no later than 24 hours from the time of the interview. Make it about how well you fit in with the company goals – not about how the job would improve your income or experience. These things are important, but not to be the focus of a thank you note.