Todd Moster’s Top 10 Tips for Job Interviews

1. RESEARCH THE COMPANY AND JOB RESPONSIBILITIES BEFORE YOU GO IN FOR THE INTERVIEW:
Make yourself an expert on the company or firm you’ll be talking to, and the job you’re applying for. You’ll be more focused, will naturally ask better questions, and will impress employers with your diligence.

2. PREPARE:
Lack of preparation is the biggest mistake candidates make before they go in for an interview. Talk to any house painter about the most important thing he does, and he’ll tell you it’s all about the prep. The actual painting is an afterthought. The same applies to an interview. It’s not enough that you know – or think you know – about your skills and experience. You’ve got to practice beforehand so you’ll be concise and compelling at the interview. My suggestion: pretend like you’re explaining what you do to an intelligent but impatient 10th grader who has no familiarity with your profession. If you can quickly and clearly describe to her what you do without the jargon (and even better, keep her from rolling her eyes!), you’re good to go.

3. PREPARE SOME MORE:
This is such an important point, and a rule so often violated, that it bears repeating. Even as we emerge from the Great Recession, economists are warning about a “jobless recovery.” With so many qualified candidates chasing after a smaller number of jobs, you can’t afford to take any chances, no matter how smart you are. Wing it, and you’re dead.

4. DRESS APPROPRIATELY FOR THE INTERVIEW:
Sure, dress codes are more informal in the workplace today. Still, don’t listen to people who recommend “business casual” for a job interview. Dress in a suit or similar attire as you would for any important business meeting. Even if your interviewer is dressed more informally than you, she will know you suited up as a gesture of respect. The moral of the story: it pays to overdress!

5. DON’T BE LATE:
This is a simple, obvious rule that even experienced professionals violate all the time, and it can be a killer. Arrive even a couple of minutes late, no matter how good the excuse, and you risk creating a negative dynamic that will color everything that follows. Assume the worst in terms of traffic and commute, get to your location early, and walk into the Reception Area 5-7 minutes before your interview.

6. BE NICE TO THE RECEPTIONIST:
Even before the high-tech, Internet Age, the walls had ears, and so do receptionists. The interview begins the moment you walk into the reception area. Treat him with respect and your courtesy will come back in spades.

7. DO NOT ASK HOW MUCH THE POSITION PAYS:
Talk to anyone who interviews a lot of candidates for a living, and he’ll tell you this is the worst question a job applicant can ask, even though it’s a perfectly reasonable question to have. The reason? Logical or not, it’s just not done. Violate this social convention, and you’ll be quickly on your way to interview oblivion.

8. ASK INTELLIGENT, OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS:
Another blunder even experienced job seekers make is not asking many, or any, questions to their interviewer, often under the cover of “you’ve been so thorough that I have no questions.” If you don’t have good, open-ended questions to ask about the job and employer, you’ll likely be viewed as lacking curiosity, uninterested in the position, passive, boring or all of those things.

9. BE CONCISE:
Communication skills are a key test of a person’s competence in other areas. We live in an increasingly busy, demanding world, and people don’t have the time or patience for long conversations anymore. That’s especially the case for job interviews, which at best are not thrill-a-minute affairs. So if you’re able to provide a complete, interesting and compelling answer to any question in 40-60 seconds, you’re gold.

10. SEND A THANK YOU NOTE:
Professional courtesy still reigns, even in the 21st Century. Be sure to send a thank you note to your interviewer within 24 hours of your meeting. Emails are rapidly becoming the norm for thank you notes, but a business letter will also suffice. Just make sure it’s brief and professional.

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