Every year, around December to January, I see something pretty interesting … somewhat even entertaining to some extent. It’s a cycle that I see unfold where companies have fresh budgets to hire new people (unless you’re “right-sizing” of course) while employees are waiting to collect their annual bonuses … so they can join their new company with a bonus in hand.
Without getting into the reasons for and against any of the stickiness surrounding this "career musical chairs," I just want to take a moment to offer some tips to the interviewees out there
Proofread. Then proofread again.
So did you notice that I forgot the period at the end of the preceding paragraph? If you noticed, what did you think of me at that point? Did you stop reading … wait, if you had stopped there, you wouldn’t … yeah, well you get what I’m saying. Please proofread your resumes. I have hiring managers who won’t meet with candidates because the font size changed from 10.0 Arial in one job to 10.5 Arial in another job. Stuff like that matters to a lot of hiring managers. I’ve seen sentences like, “I am extremely detail oreinted” in the objective statement. You can guess where that resume landed.
Be prepared to elaborate.
If you state that you increased profit margins by 17% YOY, be prepared to explain what role you specifically played to critically impact that growth. If you were merely lucky enough to coattail on someone’s else’s success, don’t put it on your resume. You won’t enjoy that hot-brick-on-head feeling when the interviewer asks you probing questions on how you were able to accomplish that 17% growth.
Do some detective work and find out what the dress code is at that company, and then err on the side of being conservative. This will show you’re professional and that you care about being respectful. Don’t wear wrinkled clothes. Wear clothes that fit. If you’re wearing your dad’s suit, we can usually tell. If wearing a tie, learn to tie a knot. Go on YouTube; it’s not that hard.
Your body speaks volumes.
The person interviewing you is a human being. He/she is not only listening to your answers but also tapping into all the senses he/she is feeling. Your body language may say things you totally unintended. Don’t slouch like you’re terribly timid. Don’t sit back like you own the place. Face the people to whom you are speaking. Make eye contact. Take notes. You may be saying, “but taking notes isn’t body language.” I purposely put that in this paragraph because you can just scribble your grocery list as long as it looks like you’re taking notes. Writing on a notepad says that what the interviewer is saying is important to you.
Honesty goes further than you think.
Depending on what surveys you adhere to, 20%-30% of contents on a resume is overblown, understated, or a flat out lie. Interviewers sense this and make an attempt to poke holes in your story at times. I asked a candidate one time why he had only worked for his last company for 2 months. He replied, “I got fired.” A bit startled by his honesty, I asked why he was fired, and he said, “My boss asked me not to do something, but I did it anyway.” After a couple more probing questions, I hired him on the spot. Honesty is hard to find these days.
When the interviewer asks you for your weaknesses, don’t use rehearsed answers like any of the following:
“I just work too hard for my own good.”
“I’m too much of a perfectionist.”
“I sometimes take on too much as I try to go above and beyond.”
Please save us the pain of hearing that.
I wish you all a lot of luck in 2016. And if you happen to be reading this as you research me prior to interviewing with me … good job on doing your research.