Friday, June 29, 2007
Job Hunting for High School Graduates - Part II
Prior to the interview you will do some homework and know where the company is located, some vague ideal what they make or the service they provide. In order to ensure you dress appropriately park in their parking lot the day before the interview and observed how they dress when they go to work.
You will take with you to the interview a folder that will contain the letter or your notes from the phone conversation setting up the interview with the person’s name and time of interview, a pen, a pencil, a pad of paper to take notes, two copies of your cover letter and resume (one in case the interviewer does not have your original and the second is for you to read to keep your shit straight) , a list of references, any letter of reference from teachers, prior employers, etc. and maybe a small calculator.
On the day of the interview arrive at least 15 minutes early. In some places it may take you five to ten minutes to walk from your car, announce yourself to the receptionist, and walk to the office where the interview will be held. You also want to make sure you have left your cell phone in the car and you do not bring a soda, bottle of water, or cup of coffee with you to the interview. Like wise any body piercing you may have you should remove that jewelry with the exception of one set of earrings, if you are female. Take a few minutes to go the ladies room or men’s room and comb your hair, adjust your clothing, take a breath mint, adjust you bladder and bowels so you don’t have an accident. Yes, that does occur. Check your shoes and clothing for any toilet paper that may be clinging. Women should not apply perfume prior to the interview as the smell will be fresh and often too overpowering in a small interview room. If you are wearing new clothes that you have not worn before check the underarms and back for any price tags that may be hanging. You may laugh about the toilet paper and price tags but I have seen it happen. Interviewers like bright eyed people, if you are not bright eyed, a trick is to splash eye drops in your eyes before going into the interview. Be sure and dry your hands thoroughly there is nothing worst than shaking hands with some one with damp hands that has just come out of the bathroom.
Who will you be interviewing with? It probably will not be the president of the company. Usually it is someone from personnel who will field benefit and pay questions, the department supervisor, who is the main person, and he/she is looking to see if you will fit and the third person will be an assistant department manager who actually knows about the job. Again remember why you will be selected “To advance the supervisor or not distract from what reputation he has built up”.
At this time you are about to walk thru the door, let me tell you in the next 30 seconds the interviewer or interviewers will decide if they made a correct decision in calling you in to interview you or they will write you off. So what can they possibly make their decision on based on a time period of less than walking through the door and saying hello and sitting down in a chair?
Important Items for the first 30 seconds
Confidence, and yes you should be confidence you just beat out 95 applicants and all you have to do is beat out 4 more and the job is yours. You don’t even have to be the best of the applicants just the one that doesn’t make the most mistakes in the interview. It is like the bear chasing the campers story, you don’t have to be faster than the bear just faster than the slowest camper.
Stand tall, back straight etc, stride with confidence, smile, walk up to the interviewer or interviewers, extend your hand for a handshake, introduce yourself and tell them how pleased you are you were selected for the interview and thank them in advance for taking time out of their busy day to interview you. When you sit down in the chair, sit do not flop down, young men seem to have a problem handling this. Don’t look down at the floor, and do maintain eye contact. Yesterday you were a child, today you are an adult applying for a job in an adult world, act it.
Dress, conservative clothing is best. For men a sports coat, tie, decent shirt and slacks, polished shoes - no athletic shoes. I would say dress for going to Church but since Catholics are rather lax on their church dress, dress like you are going to a Methodist church. For women, again conservative, beware of excessively tall high heels, and crocs are not acceptable. During the entire interview the interviewers will be looking at the way you dress. If you have tattoos, dress to cover them. I have seen so many people that were eliminated from a job offer at the interview because of the way they were dressed. Trust me this is a very important element of those first 30 seconds. Why so much stress on appearance? The supervisor does not want to get a phone call from the president of the company asking him why he hired that freak and see to it the new freak fits in or he will find someone who has better judgement in hiring people.
Ethnic or religious dress, don’t wear African garb to the interview it is viewed the same as if an American Indian came in wearing buckskin and feathers. The Muslim Hijab or Burgas , Indian Turban, Arab Keffiyeh or Hatta or the Jewish Kippah or skull cap will be questionable to wear.
Eye contact and Body language, try and maintain eye contact at all times with the interviewers. Now is not the time to drift off and look at the ceiling or down at you feet. The interviewers think you are not paying attention to them or trying to hide something. This seems to be a race related thing as blacks maintain better eye contacts than whites. Always smile. Get a book on body language, if you sit there with legs crossed and hugging yourself you will appear insecure or hostile. I know of at least one person that lost out on a job because she used excessive hand motions when she spoke. In particular wild hand motions that are over the top of your shoulder are viewed negatively.
During the Interview
I actually won’t spend much time on this, but a couple of specific items that I have seen people stumble on are;
“Tell me about yourself” a frequent question from the interviewer, they don’t want to know about you personally they want to know how your life fits in with the company and the job you are being interviewed for. I have seen so many people just out of High school go into their life history and personal relations, and that is a job killer. The less personal items you can tell the interviewers the better off you will be. Don’t mention children if you have them, don’t mention special needs you might have, don’t appear inflexible and say you won’t work overtime, weekends or travel.
“Why do you want this job” the wrong answer is too get money so I can get out of the house, away from those parents who have told me what to do for 18 years. The correct answer is to begin a working career as a (blank) with an outstanding company such as XYZ Corporation.
Organizations, some organizations are positive ones to mention at your age. They are usually past organizations you have been in as the Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, 4H, High School Band, and High School Sport teams and since they are in the past they will pose no problems. Any known national group that makes the news in a negative fashion you should avoid mentioning. Be careful not to make a statement like “ I’m a born again Christian, a true believer in God and a firm soldier in the Army of God, and I am a member of the NRA”.
Religion, is a touchy subject, remember they are looking for someone that will fit into their organization and is not too extreme. I once worked with a woman who had a 3 foot by 3 foot oil painting of Jesus Christ over top her desk at work and a bible and several religious pamphlets setting on her desk. Everyone avoided contact with her. The most you should say is “I am active with my church group” and leave it at that. Don’t come in to the interview totting a bible and wearing an excessively large cross as jewelry.
Questions to remember to ask
Do ask them about the job, ask if the job has any training associated with it. What is the pay? What are the hours? Does the job entail travel? What are the benefits, sick leave and vacation policy?
The wrap up
Eventually the interview will end. At this point ask when you will receive an answer as to rather you were hired. Once again express that you are interested in the job and working for them. Thank them for taking time out of their busy day to interview you (it scores points that you recognize they are busy people). As you are leaving again shake hands with each of them and at this point you might want to pick one of them and lean over in a low voice and say sometime complimentary to that person. For some reason, known only to females, if one of the interviewers is a female a little whisper of “I really like your shoes” seems to score big points. Of course as with any compliment there must be a grain of truth in it.
Thank You Notes
I personally have rarely been impressed by thank you notes. Frankly, for an entry level job the decision as to who to hire is made about two hours after the final interview, so a thank you note is going to arrive days after an offer of employment has already been extended to someone. Should you write a thank you note remember it should be more than “Thank you for the interview I would really like to work at XYZ Corporation”. Think people once again think, go thru what they told you about the job and if you were lucky enough to get a tour of the place what you saw. Tell them specifically how you would fit into their organization. Again remember the supervisor is selecting someone who will advance him/her or not distract from what gains he/her has made. It is OK to say something like that in the thank you note. Call the company and get the correct spelling of his name from the receptionist. Mention how flexible you are with overtime, shift work, and travel. Thank him, again, for taking time out of his busy day.
Some Interviews I have been in on that went wrong;
A young lady came in to be interviewed and her cell phone went off. It was bad enough that it happened, but she actually took the call. It sent the message that talking on a cell phone was more important than the job.
Another woman came in to be interviewed and her perfume was so strong the interviewers coughed the whole time during the interview. The generally accepted decision was she would not work out around the other workers in the plant due to the strong perfume so don’t hire her.
When I was working at the County Jail a young man came in to be interviewed. His father worked at the jail and he pretty much had the job. He arrived for the interview with a do rag on his head, baggy shorts pulled down to expose his underwear, and sleeveless tee shirt. Needless to say he did not get the job.
I asked a young woman to tell me about herself and she broke down in tears and went into a long story of troubles she had been having. Crying in an interview is a sure way not to get a job.