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Straighten Up or You’ll be Unemployed for a Long Time!

I’m absolutely amazed that in 2011, with limited jobs available, some people are still making the same fundamental interviewing mistakes they made when the economy was stronger. The difference is when the economy was stronger, there are less qualified people in the market, and therefore the demand for their services is greater. In our current economic state and fewer jobs available, employers have many more candidate options and will eliminate the unprepared candidate faster. There is so much information online about maximizing interviewing opportunities, and yet, some are still not following them. To me, there is no excuse to blow an interview based on not following the basics. It’s another story if you’re simply not qualified or there is a personality conflict.

The information I’ll share today is based upon my and our office manager, Marie Johnson’s personal experiences from interviewing for our company very recently.

Some of what I’ve experienced during our 1st interviews include: people not showing up for the actual interview, late for phone or personal interviews, not knowing what services we provide, looking at their watch, not asking enough questions to derive why the position is needed, asking about compensation, and most critical, not demonstrating what skill set they can bring to our company, which we don’t already have, which would create value and justify hiring them.

Many people we’ve encountered are simply frustrated by the economy, are skeptical on the viability of the open position and company, and view an interview as another “dead end”. I found myself going from potential employer to career consultant, providing feedback on why they weren’t a fit for our position and what I would suggest they do differently on their next interview.

Now that I’ve expressed my own frustration with those I’ve encountered, I’ll list what potential employees should do to maximize an interviewing opportunity:

Preparation and attention to details are mandatory. You are being evaluated and judged on everything from your resume submittal to the final goodbye.

Before an interview, research the company and person interviewing you by visiting their websites and conducting an online search. Familiarize yourself thoroughly with all aspects of the company-compile enough information in order to ask informed questions. Come in with suggestions/solutions and fresh ideas.

Dress in a professional, neat and appropriate way. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. Pay attention to details!

Body language is another decisive piece to the job-landing puzzle that many candidates overlook. A very high percentage of our communication is done through non-verbal communication.

Ask questions (qualify them) such as what qualifications would the ideal person possess-utilizing your listening skills, you then can answer with specifics and examples about your background and why you are qualified. You can’t “sell” if you don’t know what you’re selling! We are equally judged based on the questions we ask and the questions we answer.

Don’t ask questions such as salary, benefits and hours during the 1st interview!

Don’t “badmouth” former employer, regardless of the circumstances!

One of the best pieces of advice I can provide is to just be you! Employers can usually tell when someone is trying to be someone they’re not or exaggerating experience.

At the end of the interview, close the deal! Let the hiring manager know you’re interested, why you are a fit and that you want the job. Follow-up with an email (the next day) thanking them for their time, re-iterating your interest and ask when they will be making a decision. If you haven’t heard from the company after this date, it is appropriate to send a warm follow-up email asking for a status update.

Treat each interview as if it’s the first one you’ve been on and try to not to reflect on some of the past, unsuccessful one’s you may have encountered.

In my opinion, the most prepared, enthusiastic, willing to learn, proactive candidate, with strong foundational skills is more desirable today than a more technically sound person without the other intangibles.

Good Luck!

Ron Daratany is a national career expert and CEO/Founder of DMR Global, Inc., a national executive recruiting, outplacement and career planning firm.

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