In the course of my career, I have interviewed thousands of candidates in industries as disparate as plastics to tortillas and from Vice Presidents to dishwashers. You might think that the rules of interviewing would be vastly different with all these jobs but they really don’t vary that much. Granted, the Vice President candidate may show up in a 3 piece suit and the dishwasher is likely to be in jeans but if both are not clean and neat in their attire, they will not be called back.
It comes down to the same points: First impression, being in congruence with the resume/application or the referral [whatever the person told us who landed you the interview]. So if your neighbor got you the job interview and said that you were engaging and charismatic…you better be. Don’t show up staring at the floor, slumped shoulders wearing a frown.
So here are the rules for getting a second interview and landing the job:
1. Appearance. It matters. Dress appropriately for the position. In fact, dress up. You want to be the best dressed person in the room. You certainly don’t want to be the worst. Just because you are unemployed is not an excuse. Investigate and find out the usual attire for this position in this company and dress up one level. If the interviewer is wearing a golf shirt, you should have on a button down shirt. If she is wearing slacks, you should have on a skirt. Appearance matters.
2. Prompt. Be on time, no matter what. In fact be there 10 minutes early. Confirm the time, know how to get there, make a test run the day before to make sure you know any potential snafus. If they ask you to call in at 10:30 AM, call at precisely that minute. Not a minute late. This is an indication of your conscientiousness. Be prompt.
3. Distractions. Eliminate anything distracting, including but not limited to: gum, any beverage (if they offer say no), food (no one looks appealing while eating…cause you are going to be talking), cell phones, iPods, pagers, clunky jewelry, scarves, tie tacks, cuff links, short skirts, back packs, large purses, laptops, Starbucks and anything that can be a potential drumstick (i.e. pencil, pen, marker, stir stick, straw, ruler, etc.) The focus is you. Don’t have anything available that might distract the interviewer.
4. Succinct. Make your answers succinct and to the point. As my neighbors says “don’t go to Raleigh by way of Atlanta”. It is deceiving to think that the interviewer is enthralled with your every word. Not that you aren’t interesting but you may be the sixth person they’ve spoken to in the last two hours. Don’t be remembered as the guy who would never get to the point or who went down six different paths. As a candidate you can be deceived that someone is (finally) listening to you and you bask in the attention. Stay on point and be succinct.
5. Impact. What has been your impact on other organizations? Did you reduce costs, make a process faster and have outstanding customer satisfaction scores? The organization wants someone who is going to make a difference, is innovative and is a problem solver. Think through these examples before the interview. Be able to articulate how you have made an impact.
6. Them. It’s about them and not you. Don’t ask about dental, casual Fridays, pay or relocation reimbursement in the first interview. You can ask that stuff if you are offered a position. Make sure you know about the company. You should at least Google the company and check out their website. Ask what they are looking for in a candidate. What keeps them up at night? Where do they see the company in 5 years. It’s not about you…it’s them.
7. Charisma. You can create charisma as written by Olivia Cabane Fox in the “Charisma Myth”. Make eye contact (about 8-10 seconds). Smile genuinely (the corner of your eyes should be engaged). Before the interview – Do the power move outlined in her book as well. Stand in a private space (or not) and put your hands out in front of you and legs spread apart (imitate superwoman or batman) and think powerful thoughts for two minutes. Be charismatic.
If you focus on these items, you will be much more effective at nailing an interview…and you can land that dream job. Trust me. Do it.