Lee Bell, People Ventures, Inc.
There is nothing quite like the rush of an interview. Although it may bring up feelings of nervousness and apprehension, it is without a doubt, an extremely exciting time in your life. In a lifetime, the average American spends about 150,000 hours watching television, 100,000 hours surfing the internet and 90,000 hours at their jobs. How many hours does the average person spend interviewing? I would guess it could not be more than 24 hours in a lifetime. It is no wonder that the average college graduate does not fully understand the dos and don'ts of interviewing. Interviews are all about showing the hiring manager why you are the best candidate for the job and although a large part of the manager's decision is based on your personality and qualifications, there are a few things to be aware of before you make your first impression.
The first impression you make with a hiring manager is through your resume. Although a manager may be impressed with your experience, a good impression may come to a screeching halt if you conclude your resume with a "hobbies" or "other" section stating irrelevant information. I have read thousands of resumes and have a certain few that stick out in my mind. I have seen the following items at the end of various resumes: "Can bench 380 pounds," "Hobbies: spending time with girlfriend," "Strong interest in writing instruments, especially fountain pens" and my all time favorite, "Competitive chili cooking." My first impression was "Interesting, but highly inappropriate for the main purpose of a resume." The only non-relevant information that I would put on a resume would be anything relating to recent achievements such as being named MVP on your college lacrosse team.
Along came Polly
Similar to your resume, your in-person interview is another opportunity to disclose information about yourself. In my years recruiting in Washington, DC, approximately half of the candidates I have interviewed are new to the area. About 75% of these newcomers have moved here because of a significant other. While that is sweet, it is not information you should disclose to your interviewer. The hiring manager will think, "Well, what if they break up and the candidate wants to return home and ends up quitting?" Although it may seem as though the hiring manager is pessimistic and is jumping to conclusions, the fact of the matter is that the company does not want to take a risk on an entry level candidate when it could hire someone with the same qualifications who was born and raised twenty minutes away. So when asked, "what brought you to this area," opt for a more professional answer such as, "I am serious about my career and I chose this city because of it's countless opportunities for professional development."
The silence is deafening
More often than not, you answer the interviewer's questions only to be followed by a gap of dead silence. This silence is not lingering because the interviewer is waiting for you to keep talking, but rather the interviewer is merely reflecting on your answer before he or she continues with the next question. If you have the urge to keep talking, simply ask, "Would you like me to expand on that?" Some of my clients actually use a long silence as an interview tactic to see how the candidate will react in an uncomfortable situation. So stay calm, stay confident and remember to smile.
You just met the hiring manager, you gave a firm handshake, an enthusiastic hello and now you are headed down an unusually long hallway back to their office. The pressure is on, you start to perspire and you are faced with your first challenge, making small talk. For some this is no big deal, for others, it is more nerve racking than the interview itself. Unless you are interviewing for a position in politics, stay away from your political views. Unless you are interviewing for a religious affiliated position, stay away from your religious beliefs. Unless you are interviewing for a position involving controversial issues, do not discuss them. Keep it safe and talk about something neutral, such as the weather or the world's hatred of press coverage on teen celebrities. Above all, the simplest things to remember about interviews are that they are opportunities for you to showcase your skill sets, abilities and qualifications related to the job at hand. Hiring managers seldom ask personal questions and volunteering irrelevant or inappropriate information may show your lack of professional business acumen. Play it safe and focus on answers that will get you closer to the second interview. If you get the job, feel free to brag that you were ranked number one in last year's chili cook-off.
Under the guidance of President Lee Bell, People Ventures, Inc. has placed over 2000 candidates into permanent positions over the last five years.