“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ‘em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
– Theodore Roosevelt tweet this!
It’s been said that if you do the work you love, you never have to work another day and I firmly believe in that saying but before you actually get to realize this, you have to actually apply for that job, go to the interview and pray that the employers take notice and call you back.
I’ve interviewed hundreds of people for the past 10 years dating back when I was still a Team Leader for a BPO company. I’ve seen the best and definitely the worst applicants there is and though there are thousands of articles in the internet telling us the do’s and don’t’s of a job interview, most if the time, people tend to overlook the basics.
Out of the number of people I’ve interviewed, there’s really one that stands out and I don’t get tired telling this story to my friends and now to all of you who read this blog.
I was in a call center around seven years ago and I was, at that time, looking to fill one of the positions left by one of my senior technical support agent who left the company to look for “greener pasture” so to speak. I asked HR to give me a list of names that I can shortlist and then I conducted the initial interview before passing them over to my manager.
There was this one guy that stood out. Unfortunately, he stood out in a rather negative way because of the way he conducted himself during the interview.
All the conference rooms were occupied at that time so I decided to conduct the interview in our work area. I looked for a vacant spot to give us some privacy. The first time I saw the guy, I knew at that moment that there was no way I was going to hire him. He wore a black T-shirt with a big skull design in front, cargo pants, and high-cut, basketball shoes as if he was attending a rock concert or going to a rap contest.
Since he was there already, I gave him the benefit of the doubt though coming to the interview wearing what he wore already cost him a lot. His resume was impressive so I tried to look beyond the appearance. I thought I’ve seen it all but I was surprised that there was more to come!
We sat face to face, using your standard office chairs. What I really didn’t see coming was him actually slouching back, both his hands at the back of his head, as he answered my first question. WOW! What are we friends? Are we close? Are we just hanging out to watch a basketball game?
I tried to hide my disgust by just shaking my head and showing a fake smile but I just couldn’t imagine having someone like him in my team. I usually follow a list of questions I came up with myself but I had to make an exception for this one. I only asked him to tell me something about himself, what his previous job was, and why he was applying and then I told him the standard line “We will call you.”
End of story?
I sure hoped it was but wait. THERE’S MORE!
The guy actually asked a question, not about the company or the function but about salary and benefits. I flashed my fake smile again, this time a bit more sinister and then told him that HR will discuss that with you should you get hired (which I will certainly make sure he won’t).
A job interview requires more than your appearance and ability to answer questions and if you really want the job, you have to take note of the following:
1. Be On Time
I know that this is like, the first commandment in the 10 commandments of a job interview (if such exists) but I still need to reiterate this because there are people who still come to job interviews late and rushing.
Be in the venue an hour or thirty minutes before the call time. Anticipate the traffic or the difficulty of parking before you get on the road so you won’t go rushing, finding where that building is or what floor you need to go.
If you arrive early, you are more relaxed, you have time to fix yourself in front of the mirror and brainstorm on what answers you plan to supply for the questions you will be asked. It’s a small thing but it goes a long way, believe me.
2. Do your research
One way to make a good impression is to show how much you’re interested for the job by researching and knowing everything there is to know about the company and the job function you’re applying for. As a hiring manager, I will most likely pick someone who can tell me what our company does and what the position requires over someone who might have the skills but came to the interview with zero knowledge about what we do and what the position he is applying for requires of him.
I remember interviewing the referral of one of my staff. Apparently, he’s a close friend so I expected him to have asked his friend about what we do before he came to the interview. When I asked him if he had an idea, he answered back with a short and simple “none”.
Next applicant please!
3. Be presentable
Again, another basic of job interview rules that people seem to forget. Even if the dress code for the company is casual (which actually is, especially for call centers or jobs on a night shift), you should still come to the interview on a business attire. Remember that you are trying to sell yourself so you have to be a step ahead and show that you mean business.
Cut your fingernails short, shave, and fix your hair. Being presentable during the interview will definitely get you that good first impression. Don’t forget to take a bath. Just in case.
Smile and always make eye contact. Have a firm handshake and sit up straight. Don’t ever slouch like the guy I mentioned above or you can say goodbye to that job application.
4. Be direct and concise
Answer questions in as shot as a minute or a minute and a half as much as possible. Don’t beat around the bush because you might bore the interviewer by doing so. According to Robin Ryan, author of the book, 60 Seconds and You’re Hired!, you should answer questions in as short as 60 seconds during a job interview and in those 60 seconds, you should be able to give the interviewer five core strengths you possess that can help their company through the job function you’re applying for.
If you’re asked to tell something about yourself, look for five of your qualities that you think you stand out for instead of giving a complete autobiography stating where you grew up, what school you went to in elementary and high school, and what hobbies you spend your time doing.
Only state information that has something to do with the job you’re applying for.
5. Avoid saying anything negative against a former colleague, boss or company
Be careful in answering questions related to your previous company. Avoid the temptation of telling the interviewer your “real” reason for leaving especially if it involved a personal conflict with a former boss or colleague because this might work to your disadvantage.
You don’t necessarily have to lie that nothing happened or by stating another reason. Just tell them that you had a difference in opinion or beliefs or that you’re both headed on different directions.
This is not your typical locker room conversation where you can say “my boss is a jerk” or that “X company treats its employees unfairly”.
6. Avoid stating actual figures when asked about salary information
“The first person to mention an amount in a job interview ends up losing.” – Robin Ryan tweet this!
This is a case-to-case basis but as much as you can, try to avoid stating specific amounts for questions about your current and/or desired salary because doing so can work against you. If you’re earning less and asking for more, you have to be able to justify why you’re asking for such.
Always speak in ranges instead of mentioning actual figures because employers equate salary with the level of duties and responsibilities you perform. Telling them the low salary you earn for the job you perform can give employers the impression that you’re not a performer and may not be the person they seek.
If you are asked for this you current and asking salary, the best reply should be “what is the salary range for this position?”
If the employer states the actual amount, just tell them either what you earn is near that range or far from it.
7. Ask questions
I usually give applicants the chance to ask questions towards the end of the interview and I usually give more consideration to those who do compared to those who just give me a smile back while turning their heads left and right.
I take note of people who ask questions because the fact that they did tells me that they are really interested and that they want the job more than others do. You can’t just ask any questions though. If you really want to be noticed, you have to ask questions relevant to the position you’re applying for or anything to do with company policies or operations.
Asking about salary and benefits-related stuff doesn’t count.
8. Never lie
Some people will go through great lengths to snag a position they desire, even going as far as lying, both in their resumes and during the interview by stating duties that they don’t actually do or adding job functions they never really had experience with. Companies perform extensive background checks nowadays and with the power of social media, you can’t hide anything about yourself anymore in terms of employment.
Don’t fabricate information just to get hired because it will not only hurt your chance to get the job, it will also hurt your reputation.
Job interviews require preparation and research. You should give it utmost important and not take it for granted if you really want to get that job you’re aiming for. Practice in front of the mirror if you can or practice with a friend. Learn everything you can about the company because you only get one shot so make the most out of it.
Over to You
What are your rituals before a job interview? How much preparation do you go through before coming to one?
I would love to hear from you so feel free to share your stories or leave a comment below.
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