The Huffington Post published an article last week titled “Prepare For a Job: Not for an Interview”. This article was geared toward recent graduates about to embark on their careers – which means they will be going on a lot more interviews. The article aimed to explain the difference between what they called “Superficial Job Interview Tips” (that the internet is overflowing with) and “Consequential Job Interview Tips” (which they came up with and are actually important to getting you the job).
While I believe their tips are very helpful and will in fact help interviewees in landing their next job I felt they were doing a disservice by tossing aside the “superficial” job interview tips and indicating they are not important tips to follow or that they were not nearly as important to landing you the job.
I would like to take this time to go through those interview tips and defend their honour because I believe those tips that they labelled superficial are just as important if not MORE important to landing you your next job.
Please note: these GIFs are not to be taken seriously when combined with interview tips below. They, like the Huffington Post article, are slightly over exaggerated therefore you should proceed with caution (especially the handshake one, please don’t try that in an interview).
Tip #1: Concentrate on Wearing the Right Attire
The article suggested that worrying about what you wear or “shopping for a specific outfit” is a waste of time. But in fact, statistics show that when meeting new people, the impact that new person has on someone is 55% how they are dressed and how they act. If you walk into a fancy office wearing sweatpants and expect to be given a job you may be let down. No matter how much experience you have you must always take corporate culture into account. Many people can not see past initial looks, and while that is not how it should be, it could definitely affect you being offered the job.
Tip #2: Impress the Interviewer by Arriving on Time
It is never a good idea to arrive late. Arriving late shows that you do not value someone else’s time as much as your own. If you’re interviewing with an employer who’s a stickler about punctuality you could be out of a job just by arriving late. It is always safe to arrive 10 mins early to your interview (earlier than that can make the employer feel rushed to meet with you). Impressing the interviewer is obviously the top priority in making a good impression and securing the job. Arriving on time may seem simple but it is definitely not “superficial”.
Tip #3: Be Sure to Make a Good First Impression
As stated above I don’t see how this could be superficial. The entire interview is about making a good impression. The employer is going to be interviewing many other candidates who have the same qualifications as you, therefore you have to find a way to stand out. The Huffington Post says instead of focusing on how to make a good first impression you should prepare to discuss how you will make a lasting impression with the company. I don’t believe these two are mutually interchangeable. You must make a great first impression or the company is not going to give you a chance to make that lasting impression. 33% of employers have said they know within 90 seconds whether or not they are going to hire someone. If that doesn’t scream ‘make a good first impression’ I don’t know what does.
Tip #4: Influence them With a Strong Handshake and Good Eye Contact
In a recent study 67% of employers said failure to make eye contact was the major mistake candidates made in their job interview. If an employer can decide on a candidate in 90 seconds, chances are those 90 seconds are when you first walk through the door. This means your handshake and eye contact are speaking for you. Non-verbal body language makes up a large portion of the way people see us, therefore it is very important to make a lasting impression using a firm handshake and strong eye contact. This is a tip that should not be overlooked and should be practiced if someone is not comfortable doing these things naturally.
Tip #5: Explain Why You Need the Job
Most employers will ask you why you want to work for them and why you want the job you are interviewing for. This is a good opportunity to show how much you know about the company and their current needs as well as show why you want to get into the field. If it is a job you are passionate about then conveying your enthusiasm and excitement for the position will help to solidify your spot as the chosen candidate. 47% of employers said having little knowledge of the company is a large mistake many candidates make. While the Huffington Post suggested instead of explaining why you need the job, explain how you can fill a skilled labour shortage the company has, both of these can be incorporated by practising your response to “Why do you need this job” or “What attracted you to this company?”.
Tip #6: Be Honest and Considerate
The article suggests instead to be authentic and deliberate. This is silly, just do both. Interviewers will always want you to be considerate. Be honest in your intentions and in your personality and you will come across as being authentic. If you are open and friendly it will foster the same behaviour from the person you are interviewing with.
Tip #7: Stress Your Critical Thinking and that You are a Quick Learner
Since this is the “superficial” tip, the “consequential” tip is to stress how your personal workforce preparation will lessen the need for training. Discussing your past work experience may lessen the need for training if it is a similar job. If not, the company will want to know that you have the ability to adapt your way of thinking and step into a new role as well as pick up new skills quickly, both of which can be conveyed through examples of when you used critical thinking or were a quick learner. By practicing answers to standard interview questions such as these it helps candidates learn how to speak highly of past experience and of personal skills, which can then be transferred to any work situation or question the interviewer may have.
Tip #8: Use Good Body Language
Instead of telling recent grads to use good body language this article suggests to use accurate corporate terminology. This is another tip where the two are not interchangeable. It will definitely make you look informed and knowledgeable if you use company terminology but if you have terrible body language (a weak handshake and poor eye contact perhaps) you may not even get a chance to use that terminology. The employer is always going to be observing how you will fit into the company and whether or not you can work in a company environment. A recent graduate may not have a ton of work experience which is why using non-verbal cues to indicate your professionalism and responsibility is very important when going on these interviews.
Tip #9: Show Them the Resume and Transcript You Brought to the Interview
The “consequential” tip to this “superficial” tip is to show them the work ethic you can bring to the company. Now I know they say past behaviour is no indicator of future performance but in an interview setting it most definitely is. The company wants to know you have the skills and/or the experience to back up what you are saying. They can’t spend money on a promise of strong work ethic from someone they don’t know. The reason we have portfolios and job references is so that employers can get a sense of our past work and behaviours in order to interpret how we may perform at their company. The promise of strong work ethic is about as good as the paper it’s written on.
Tip #10: Provide Specific Examples of Your Past Work Experience
Instead The Huffington Post wants you to provide the employer with how you will how you will help them be more efficient and productive. How will you convince them? Probably by telling them how you did it at your last job….
While many of the tips The Huffington Post deems “consequential” are completely relevant to the job interview/search, it is the basics, the “superficial” tips that are going to lay the foundation for your job interview preparation. Those basic tips are staples because they work, people have been using those tips and landing their perfect job for years and years. Being confident, having strong body language, and knowing which skills and experience to utilize and discuss are the foundations of an excellent job interview. Everything “consequential” in this article is a consequence of starting with an excellent foundation of the basics. Because after all, you have to start somewhere, why not start with what works.
I have compiled a list of resume tips to help you get started. Here are a few resources with the best “superficial” tips I have seen: http://breakawaystaffing.blogspot.ca/2015/06/10-resources-for-creating-your-best.html
GIFs courtesy of giphy and tumblr.com