Tips to get a job - Part 2 - the interview

The last employment post was about how to prepare yourself to get an interview, now that you've mastered that and received the call... Let's continue!

Firstly, be sure to make yourself easily contactable in the first place. Check your resume to make sure your contact details are up to date, correct, and easy to find on the first page. You won't get a call if your mobile number is missing a digit! Secondly, always have your mobile phone on you so that you can answer calls right away. If there's a chance you may miss a call, be sure to have your messagebank/answering machine active and call back as soon as possible. Same with email. Check it twice daily. In the morning and evening.

A note about answering machines... If your machine recording is very casual and sounds something like this "yo peoples, sup? I'm busy now so leave a message and if I like the sound of ya I'll give you a ring back" ..... CHANGE YOUR MESSAGE!! your Friends will find that funny, but an employer will be less than impressed and it may cost you many interviews. Keep it simple. "hi, Tammy here, I'm not available right now so please leave a message and ill call you back shortly". Is sufficient. You can change it later but right now it should be employer friendly.

Moving along, when you get that call and are asked to go to an interview, sound enthusiastic. Don't umm and arr about it. If they present you with a day and time, take it. Do what you need to do to go along. Even if it means cancelling a pre-planned get together with friends. Getting a Job is priority right now and if your friends are real friends they will understand that. If the employer asks when a good day and time for you is, tell them the very next available day/time. If thats tomorrow morning at 9am... Tell them. They may suggest a few days later and that's fine but you've shown your keen.

When you go along to your interview, remember all the tips from the last post about how to dress and also to get plenty of rest the night before. You do not want to go to an interview hung over, or even be constantly yawning in your interview. It makes you look disinterested and lazy. Have breakfast, even if it's just tea and toast. With food in your belly the nerves will be less physically affecting on you plus eating breakfast has scientifically proven to sharpen your concentration skills greatly which you'll need.

Arrive at your interview about 15 minutes early. This is common courtesy, gives a little room for surprises like a late train or if you lose your way driving to the interview. Infect if you've never been to the place before, leave to arrive half an hour early (but don't go in until 15 mins prior, too early is rude.) this just means you absolutely will not be late. Punctuality or lack of it is your very first impression. It's also good to be in the building 15 minutes early because alot of the time the receptionist will ask you to fill out some paperwork with basic details before your interview, which can take 5-10 mins. So, be early!

If you find you are late for some reason, which Is 95% of the time perfectly avoidable, but if you are somehow running late, call the employer and let them know "Hello its Tammy here i have an interview in15 minutes time, im running late due to traffic im sorry, ill be about ten minutes late if your still able to see me?" this shows that
A. Your thinking of the employer and how your tardiness may have affected them
B. Youve taken responsibility for your lateness rather than pretending nothings wrong or brushing it off.

When you arrive be sure to apologize again promtly. Keep professional don't show that your stressed. Be genuinely sorry but don't carry on about it. Be friendly and calm. These things happen Sometimes. They need to see that you can keep it together after a stressful moment or mistake.

Hopefully you are smart enough to leave early and be on time...

So with a punctual arrival and a smile on your dial, the introduction comes next. You may meet the receptionist first. Be friendly, wait till she is off the phone before you approach the desk (another good reason to arrive early) tell them your name and what time your interview is for. Be friendly. She or he may have a part to play in the selection process. When the interviewer comes out to greet you, get out of your seat, introduce yourself and shake hands with them. A firm
Handshake does not go unnoticed and shows confidence and professionalism.

Allow them to lead the interview, don't talk their ear off. But do answer questions with more than a "yes" or "no" where possible. You want to show confidence, but you don't want to be cocky or ditzy. You must of course be yourself, it's just that you must have an air of professionalism. So you don't have to be someone you are not, but you do have to be on your best behavior and show some respect for the employer.

It is manners to not be chewing gum, have your mobile phone on silent (not vibrate. Turn it off if you must), not be looking at your watch at all and have no earphones in sight. Even when your waiting for them to come out. You need to be fully engaged in the interview with no distractions.

It's good to have answers to common questions already prepared. Some questions commonly asked by interviewers are:

Why should we hire you? What can you contribute to our workplace? Or, what are Some positive attributes about yourself?

Stick to three positive attributes. More is boastful, less isn't too bad. But they will most likely ask for more if you only come out with one or two. Things such as being good with customers, willing to learn and take the initiative, reliable and punctual, easy to work with/good in a team, experienced in sales or whatever field your applying in, are all good ones. But don't you dare lie! Pick some things that are TRUE. Then you'll keep the job lol.

Other questions asked can be surprising. Commonly, you may be asked "and what are some not so good things about your working self that you might need to work on?" again, be honest. This is a tough one but you can answer with some tact. Examples of answers can be "well I find I have in the past been a little nervous about approaching customers, and pulled back a little. I'll have to work on being more pro-active in that area" or "I find learning new computer programs a little daunting and can take a while to catch on, but I believe if I concentrate and apply myself I will be able to overcome that." stating your honest downfall (without expanding on it) then stating briefly your intention/plan to change it is a very good response.

You will almost certainly be asked "and why do you want to work for us?" do NOT say "because I need a job." or "because it seems easy"!! Here's where your research comes in. Before your interview, maybe earlier that week or the night before, go onto the company's website and check out the following If it's available:
The company's history
The employees page
The current events page (humanitarian projects, community involvement, training programs, whatever)

You'll not only be able to answer any questions about the company confidently, you'll be able to pick out some things you find appealing that you can mention and get an impressed glance from the interviewer also!

For example, your answer might turn out something like "well I really love that this business has it's hand in community projects for the youth and are investing in worthwhile causes. I can imagine a company with priorities like that would be stable and successful not to mention good to their employers. Plus it would be nice to know I'm working somewhere that's making a difference" oh yeah. Now that's an answer. If that doesnt sound like you, you could focus on the employees and workplace "well whenever I've been in the store/building/restraunt I've always been impressed with the atmosphere and noticed the employees are always happy and helpful, id love to join a team like that and contribute to the company's good reputation. Plus I've learned that you hire and promote from within the company rather than looking outwards so there is plenty of opportunity for advancement". This will show them your in it for the long haul.

You catch my drift. But remember, don't be a buttkisser and carry on like a pork chop. Honesty must reign because they can smell a rat a mile off.

Finally, remember to smile, listen carefully and ask any questions you need to ask. "if I were to be accepted for the position, when would be the start date? May I ask what the rate of pay is?" etc. Dont be embarrassed to ask these kinds of questions. They expect it and are happy to answer best they can.

Finish with a "thanks for your time Sandra" or whatever they said there name was, be it Mr Smith or Sally. This makes them connect to you on a more personal level because you've remembered and used there name. Then "when might I expect a call from you?" or "what is the next step if I am successful?" is a good thing to ask too. It shows you are being positive and showing interest. Then end with something like "thanks again, been a pleasure to meet you, hope to hear good news soon."

That's it.

Always Remember to be yourself, these are only guidelines but tweak it to your own personality. If you have the gift of humor feel free to be funny, to whatever degree the interviewer seems to like it. If your quiet and shy, don't put on an act of some bold and talkative person. Be you, but be relaxed and level headed enough to answer confidently and speak clearly, not quiet like a mouse. If your loud and leery, don't pretend to be some sweet gentle person, but tone down the in-your-face ways to a level that allows good communication. You can still laugh and be bubbly, no problem at all; but be aware that the interviewer needs to see the professional you and have you answer their questions without ranting stories etc.

The main point is, you must realize that you need to be you, but you need to take into consideration that as an employed working person there is a balance you must keep. It's being genuine and natural, as well as professional and astute.

Dont over think it. Just remember, genuine and professional :-)

Do only HALF of what ive suggested in these two posts and youll be a step ahead of most others! Do most or all of it; well there's no stopping you!

God bless you on your job hunting adventures and may your efforts be rewarded with enriching careers!

Next employment post will be about how to handle being the "new girl" (or guy) in your workplace. Stay tuned!