GUEST COLUMN: Interview with confidence
Special to the Tribune
Employers hire people they like. The truth is that no matter how much protocol is required when job interviewing it gets down to this simple concept. But what about skills and experience you might ask? While it’s true that employers want to bring aboard the most competent candidates, interpersonal skills are key in the hiring decision. Will you fit into the workplace culture? Will you interact well with customers and co-workers? Are you confident and able to think on your feet? How can you be the most appealing job candidate? Here are some suggestions to make you more likely to succeed. Preparation is the ticket that will give you the edge as well as provide you with confidence and control.
Body language speaks
Body language is 80 percent of communication. Make that number work for you. Eye contact is vital to show self-assurance, a firm handshake says, “I’m glad to meet you!” a friendly smile is universally infectious. No, you don’t have to wear a corny grin nor do you have to shake hands so enthusiastically it’s painful. Do what feels natural and comfortable. Otherwise it will be obvious. Your handshake should be firm but sincere; avoid a limp one that sends a bad message. Be polite, listen effectively and don’t interrupt. First impressions are paramount as the employer is forming an opinion of you. Don’t squander yours.
Do your homework
Most employers are enthusiastic about their businesses. Make sure you are too. Know about the company. What is their mission statement? What products do they promote? Who are their customers? Access the company website to research. Marketing brochures may be available too. Take advantage of these tools. If you don’t have a computer you can use a public computer at the library or at the One Stop Employment Center. Limited computer skills? Classes are offered at no cost through the public library. Community colleges have resources as well.
Your desired position might be management or an entry-level position. It makes no difference. Know the job duties and responsibilities of the targeted job and be prepared to discuss them in conjunction with your experience and skills. What would you like about this job and why? What can you bring to the table? Stay positive and focused with your answers. Don’t get sidetracked offering unnecessary, irrelevant information. If you need additional details on the job description http://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/occguides/ offers you a treasure trove. Job descriptions, salary information, job forecasts and more can be found here.
Tote your tools
Take copies of your resume and a list of references. Bring a pad and pen to jot down information you might want to refer to later. If you have business cards, don’t forget them. Jot down questions you want to ask at the end of the interview. Carry these items in a portfolio where they are easily accessible and wrinkle free.
Tackle the “tough questions”
Think ahead about answers to questions such as “What is your biggest weakness?” or “Tell me about a time when you could not agree with your boss. How did you handle it?” Stay positive. Avoid generalizations, give real life examples and end with your positive solution. These questions take contemplation. If necessary take a class. There are no cost classes offered through state and county agencies on all facets of job search strategies. Access a schedule and attend a workshop.
Run your answers by a family member or friend. If possible, find someone who has conducted interviews. Make a video of yourself during a practice interview and play it back. It can be eye opening. Anticipate an interview before you are invited.
Be cognizant of the industry and job. What does one wear on a normal day for this position? Dress one notch above that on interview day. Not sure? Visit the worksite beforehand to observe. Neat, clean and good grooming is key. Do not overdo with too much perfume or makeup. Guys, easy on the cologne. Trim your beard and/or mustache. Girls, lose the overdone jewelry.
Lastly, know your rights. Not all interview questions are legal. Know the difference. If you are asked an illegal question, you are not required to answer it but do not overreact. Remain calm and polite.
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