How to Interview 101

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-27-2012
How to Interview 101
Sun, 10-28-2012 - 12:08am

I have found in my experience that people desperately seeking a job often come across as well, desperate.  I know those emotions are difficult to control when the mortgage bill is about to roll in...again...and you're seriously ready to just pack your car and bail, but believe me when I tell you - the most appealing thing about a candiate is their confidence.  It is grace and dignity in the hardest of times.  Even in the face of debt and foreclosure, you must keep your composure.  

To keep yourself in check, remember a few key things...

Keep in mind that this interview is not just YOU being grilled by your prospective employer or tested.  It is an opportunity for BOTH of you.  It is an opportunity for YOU to learn about the job, the company and whether or not that job is a fit for you and your lifestyle.  If you're unfamiliar about the company, google them, ask around and have a few questions at the ready, because the one of the laziest things you can do is not have any questions!  It is absolutely ok to ask about salary ranges and benefits...the person interviewing you (me) will be unimpressed if you didn't ask such things! And nothing says, "I care" like taking a few notes.  A FEW.  Like salary or anything unsual you will want to remember.  You shouldn't have your head down recording everything they're saying.  

While the recruiter may lead the discussion, it remains just that - a discussion, but know when to shut up.  People who go on and on about personal stuff just really annoy me and honestly, unless it pertains to your skills, previous jobs and your goals, you lose me.  A quick witty comment is great, but stay focused.  It shouldn't be a rigid Q&A, it should be relaxed and light and a time for you to answer questions thougthfully and articulately.  Don't rehearse things prior to the interview, you'll just appear nervous.  Rather just frikken relax and know that the person you're meeting with isn't God.  He or she is just a working chimp just like you.  Have fun a little bit, but be professional.  

Be private about things that should remain private.  In addition to you not divulging that the bank is about to come knocking for the deed to your house, remember what OTHER topics are off subject for BOTH of you: marital status, sexual orientation, pregnancy (no you don't have to tell them, they'll find out soon enough!), family status (I know you love to brag about your kids, but not here!), religious affiliations, race, or disability.  

A few other tips to help ensure you actually get offered the opportunity to interview are...apply ON-line ON-yourown.  As in, don't call the recruiter saying, you can't figure out their online application process, instead ask your local unemployment office for help. Nothing says, idiot like, can't get through an online application.  More on that, complete the application and any other crazy requests they have.  Follow directions in their application and even if it allows you to upload your resume COMPLETE the application, COMPLETE IT.  Don't leave anything blank, an employment application is a legal document and it must be completed regardless of whether or not you're attaching your resume.  And for Goodness' sake, don't put, "quit to have a baby" or "quit because my manager was an a-hole" or anything personal, simply, say "personal" on your reason for leaving on any job EVER.  You may of course elaborate at the interview, simply.  A word about email etiquette:  have some.  If you've been emailing with the recruiter about something, always have a greeting and closure.  "Hi Sarah" blah blah blah... and "Best regards" work just fine in my book.  

Be yourself.  Be interesting and engaging and don't make the recruiter "drag" things out of you, talk about your professional life and previous jobs and employers affectionately as if they benefited you professionally and you learned a I'm sure you did.  NEVER talk negatively about a previous employer.  No matter if you scrubbed grout in the mens room urinal 8 hours a day and had to eat lunch behind the dumpster with the smokers, find something postive about it, like "I learned a lot about OSHA standards and occupational safety and health...I took pride in my work and people thought I did a great job."

These things are basic, but dress professionally, no matter the job you're interviewing for, but don't "over-do it".  Keep the perfume on your dresser not on your person, just soap and shampoo smell will do.  Dress in something that makes you feel confident, a simple black skirt or pants with a nice top is great.  Go easy on the make-up (unless its a salon job, I guess...[shrug]...).  This is so silly to mention, but keep the accessories to a minimum, too. Coco Chanel once said, "before you leave the house, take one accessory OFF." and nothing says, drama like someone sitting down in front of me putting her big ol momma bag up on the table, and then proceeding to take her phone out and put it in front of if she's waiting for a call.  TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE BEFORE YOU GO IN THE BUILDING. PERIOD.  If you have to say,, "Oh..ooops sorry" as you silence the latest ring tone and shuffle your phone back in your probably lost big points.  

Good luck from your friendly HR Meanie :)

Avatar for CMEvelyn
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-29-2012
Wed, 10-31-2012 - 1:49am

Thanks for the tips Mother_Bird Smile

I especially liked, "know that the person you're meeting with isn't God.  He or she is just a working chimp just like you."

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-27-2012
Thu, 11-01-2012 - 7:31pm

My pleasure! I hope it helps a few people!  :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-03-2009
Sun, 11-04-2012 - 9:59am
I love the perfume mention. I'm a perfume hater, but I understand why some women wear it....but to bathe in it? Before a job interview? Seriously!?! I've gone on group interviews where someones perfume is so strong it fills the room and even after leaving I'm still smelling (and tasting!) it and its just nauseating. I'm of the mindset that no one should be able to smell me coming and that goes for good or bad smells. An undectable smell is just fine.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-22-2012
Fri, 11-23-2012 - 7:58pm
You're not intimidating at all. :) Damn I miss HR.
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-27-2012
Sat, 11-24-2012 - 12:01am
haha! well come on back! we need more meanies! :)