From pre-interview all the way to follow-up, chances are very good you need to make a few adjustments. Quickly.
Go Casual: You have this interview in the bag- who cares if you’re wearing jeans and a hoodie! You’re Gen Y! Zuckerberg doesn’t wear suits!
“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.” – Mark Twain
I’m not suggesting you show up to your interview naked (although that would certainly end your interviewing excursion. Mission accomplished!) Ask the recruiter ahead of time, on the phone or email, about the company dress code. If asking is uncomfortable for you, play it safe with dress pants or slacks and a nice shirt and tie; or skirt and blouse. Even at a “laid back” start-up would be impressed with your professionalism.
Better to be over dressed than…well, naked.
Arrive Unprepared: You emailed your resume – certainly the hiring manager had time to memorize it, or at least to print it and bring copies with him. Right?
Bring copies of your resume to the interview. And having a quality notebook or leather-bound portfolio in which to take interview notes will add to the impression that you’re a professional. The more you know about the company and industry before the interview, the better. Do your research to learn the company’s history, major competitors, market niche, products, etc.
Minute One: The Weak Handshake
This is a time-honored first impression killer. The interviewer enters the room. They greet you warmly, smiling, and extend their hand to grasp yours…this can be an awkward moment if you over-think it. Will your hands meet correctly? Will they land slightly askew, resulting in that quasi-handshake, half high-five event?
Use a firm handshake to indicate confidence and potential strength of character. And definitely make solid eye contact with the interviewer! That will display some competence and social ability.
Minute Two: Your Cell Phone Rings (ideally to a Ke$ha ringtone)
This is an easy one to forget since most of us are so completely tied to this little electronic second brain. Turn your phone off (completely off!) before the interview. If you forget and it does ring, DO NOT answer it, or even consider sending a quick text while the interviewer’s head is turned. (Yes… people actually do this…)
This is more inappropriate and annoying than couples who hold hands at the gym! The hiring manager will definitely notice your lack of social etiquette.
Minute Three to Seven: Your Eyes Glaze Over, Your Shoulders Hunch, You Yawn…
Your body language communicates loudly. Maintain eye contact with your interviewer. Sit forward- it shows active interest with your full body. Nod your head at appropriate times and ask questions throughout the interview. An interview should be a two-way conversation.
Give your interviewer time to explain the opening and the company culture, but jump in with quality questions. By “quality questions” I don’t mean: “How long is lunch in this office?” or “I have a vacation with my boyfriend coming up soon. Is that ok?”
Minute Eight: Show Me The Money!
You’re just starting out in your career – you’ve already earned a big salary! You should bring that up right away, right? Wrong.
Discuss the position first and foremost. Sure, being paid for your time and skills is how capitalism works! But focus on the job details first- discuss compensation afterward, once you and the recruiter agree that you’re the right fit.
Before the interview, research your industry’s salary rates and the cost of living for the area. You’ll be prepared to negotiate a salary that will cover your living expenses and enable you to set aside savings for emergencies. Having a job is only great when you can afford to pay your bills. Being underemployed is just as hard as being unemployed.
Minute Nine and Ten: Be Really Un-Friendly
With the exception of very technical positions, employers interview for skills, but they hire forpersonality. Most entry level skills can be learned through on the job training. The interview reveals if you will be a good fit with the manager and their team. (I once got a job where the interviewer was a big golf nut. I play golf, so we talked about golf the entire interview).
Don’t use polite manners, smile or have an engaging and articulate conversation with the interviewer – avoid these as they will most certainly encourage the hiring manager to consider you further.
Post- Interview: The Follow Up
Your best chance of not being hired is to blend in with the tens, or sometimes hundreds of other applicants… like job seeking camouflage! Don’t fall into the forgotten pile- send a follow up letter after the interview; at the very least an email to thank the interviewer for their time and add a few memorable points from your discussion (maybe even a question or two that you thought of after the interview). Better yet, send an old-school hand-written letter.
Most interviewees send resumes and wait… or interview and hope. If you don’t want to get hired… don’t stand out.
Now that you’ve read the list, did anything seem familiar? If so, start making some changes. Now would be good.
Special thanks to our friends at YouTern for this great post!
About the Author: Dave Ellis is an original member of the YouTern team and is instrumental to its success… in fact, he’s so awesome there wouldn’t be a YouTern without him (and he might have written this bio himself). Dave serves as YouTern’s Content and Community Manager, and enjoys his role as the company’s “Man Behind the Curtain”. In his spare time, Dave volunteers, rescuing and rehabilitating sea lions and baby elephant seals. Connect with Dave on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter!