First impressions do count and never so much as on a job interview. A potential employer usually has less than an hour to size up a potential candidate and see who would best represent the image and work ethic that they want to represent in their business.
At the point of the interview an employer may have already filtered through hundreds of resumes looking not only for work history but also sentence structure, spelling mistakes, and overall professional presentation. If you have made it through this part the next step is even more critical. If you receiving calls for interviews there are good resources to help put your resume in top notch shape to present your skills to their greatest potential. Some of the temporary agencies will take the time to sit with you one on one to perfect and edit your resume.
Having been selected for an interview in this job market is indeed a worthy accomplishment. The last couple of positions I have been selected for I have later found that not a few applications were received but literally hundreds. If you made it this far good going. Whether you get this job or not use the interview as an opportunity to hone your skills for as they say "practice makes perfect". And, whatever the outcome don't take it too personally as a reflection of you or your skills. You cannot know if one of the other candidates was the friend of the uncle of the owner.
It's not about you. The interview is not about you, it is about them. The company wants to find the best person to do the job and be an active valuable member of their business and team. Though this list is not intended to be exhaustive here are some of the key points to remember:
1. Dress for success. The clothing you choose for the interview should be professional and somewhat neutral. This is not the time to show off your personal style except in small doses unless you are looking for a position in the entertainment field. Years ago John T. Malloy set or at least put in writing the foundational book called Dress for Success. The book had a men's and women's version. Since it first came out there have been updates, revisions, and a number of other similar books written but these books set the bar. Amazon has a number available but as always if you are watching your expenses check your local library.
The main purpose of this post is to introduce an organization started to help those who are looking for employment and do not have the means to purchase the clothing necessary to cinch the job. This non-profit organization is helping get people, especially women, ready for the job market and is located nation wide. Here is the link for the Dress for Success Organization . Whether you need some assistance or have no longer needed items they are a resource in our communities to help get you back on your feet.
2. Posture. This is one of those things that is much more obvious to others than ourselves and one I have to often remind myself of. It's time to stand up straight, put our shoulders back, and walk with purpose. If the shoes you picked don't allow you to do this then choose another pair.
3. Grammar. Another one of those things others quickly pick up on. Is it "yes" or "yeah", "no" or "nah"? While those may be fine at home they are not appropriate in the business context. Slip in a swear word or two unawares and the interview is done.
4. Tattoos. You may love your skull and crossbones but it raises the eyebrows of those in business. "But, I just want to be me" you may think. That's fine but you may remain unemployed. Businesses are looking for someone to represent "them" for the workday. You can be you after hours. Along with tattoos would be exotic hair styles and colors, cleavage, piercings, fingernails that appear that they are more important than typing.
5. Final check. Always make a final check of your appearance before the interview. Years ago one of my best friends almost walked into an interview with her skirt tucked into her pantie hose!
If you have been looking for work and still have not found anything I have found that registering at temporary agencies has been very useful. In addition to testing (which provides scores for adding to your credentials) they have job search helps, resume writing, interview helps, and free online training. Many of the jobs they list are temp to perm. Some even offer reasonably priced health insurance to assist in the transition. Many of these services are also available through the state unemployment offices whether or not benefits are currently being received.
Smart On Money recently had a good post on finding business attire for less that gives more tips for finding that next job or career opportunity.
The competition is tough but be the best you can be and take your best shot. If you don't hit the bulls eye on this one just keep at it until you do.
You might also like:
Work Wardrobe on a Budget
In The Trenches - Wardrobe Planning
The free online version of In The Trenches has a chapter title Get a Job that gives other helpful hints and is on page 86. Click the link on the sidebar.