By: Elias Cobb, Quantix Recruiting Manager
This is the second installment in addressing some of the glaring deficiencies in so many job searches I see candidates conducting. This part will address interviewing.
So you’ve been looking for a new job. And you’ve had some interviews, but no offers, or certainly no appealing ones. Here are some tips – and yes, all of these come from actual experience (candidate interviews) I have seen in my 14-year recruiting career.
OVERRIDING CONCEPT: Take ALL interviews seriously. This especially applies to you “in-demand” IT folks. Yes, demand is as high as I’ve seen it for many IT skills. But that doesn’t mean you should come to an interview unprepared. Companies are still being very selective in their hiring and they want to make the right decision. Not only that, but even if the company or position isn’t what you want, you DO want to make a good impression on the hiring manager. He or she won’t be at that company forever, and their next employer may be a GREAT place for you. If you can build a solid rapport with that manager and decline the position professionally, you may open many, many doors for yourself in the future.
So what do I mean by “taking the interview seriously?” Well, these are actual examples, and all fairly recent. If they seem obvious to you, I’m sorry, but the fact that candidates still do them tells me they aren’t obvious tips for everyone.
1) Dress. Personally, I have never seen someone NOT get a job because they were over-dressed. I assume it has happened. However, I have seen MANY, MANY cases where candidates didn’t get jobs because they were under-dressed. Don’t wear flip-flops, Hawaiian shirts, etc., to an interview. Iron your shirt and pants. Wear a suit. If you don’t have a suit, at least wear a tie. If you don’t have a tie, at least wear a dress shirt and slacks. Don’t wear sneakers. Don’t wear white socks with your suit.
2) Hygiene. Make sure you are well groomed. Again, seems obvious, right? Clean yourself up and make sure you smell good. Don’t overdo it on cologne or perfume. In fact, I’d stay away from cologne or perfume altogether (yes, I have seen candidates not get jobs because of overpowering “perfume-y” smell). If you smoke, try to not smoke right before the interview. I’d have my interview clothes dry-cleaned and not store them next to the other smoke-smelling clothes in my closet, if I were a smoker. It’s hard to avoid the cigarette smell in the car, but do your best. Yes, I’ve had candidates not get jobs because of that too.
3) Prepare. Make sure you do some research on what the company does and try to understand the business as best you can. This is where you can formulate some really good questions for the manager. I recommend looking the manager up on LinkedIn as well. From that, you can understand his or her background and from where they came, from a technical perspective. This is an area that a staffing agency can be of great assistance. The recruiter should be able to give you some information about the company and the hiring manager with whom you will be interviewing. Again, I have seen candidates not get jobs because they came into an interview not knowing anything about the company.
4) Prepare some more. Make sure you can answer questions about your background and your resume. Managers are going to want to know what YOU did. If you consistently say what the team did, you may leave the manager wondering what you did. You need to be able to talk intelligently about the business purpose of your projects, what your specific role was and any accomplishments that you made that were out of the ordinary. If you’re technical, you need to be prepared to talk about EVERY TECHNOLOGY that you list on your resume. And you need to be prepared to answer specific technical questions and even take a technical test on the important technologies in the job for which you are interviewing.
5) Engage. Yes, having prepared questions (above) is part of this. But it also means being an active participant in the interview, EVEN IF YOU QUICKLY DETERMINE THE JOB ISN’T FOR YOU. Remember, this manager may keep detailed notes on everyone they interview (yes, I’ve seen that, multiple times), and they will take those notes with them to every company for whom they work. You don’t want to be in the “NO” column. So answer the manager’s questions thoroughly but stay on point, ask good questions, and maintain interest. I’ve had candidates put their head down on the table, give one word answers or act disinterested in many other ways. Don’t be that person.
Just as I mentioned in Part I, it really comes down to being a lazy job seeker. Putting a little effort in on the front-end of your job search will pay large dividends!