As graduation approaches (or looms see April 24 post), many of you will be interviewing for a job, either something temporary or your first leap into your chosen career path. Earlier this week, I talked about the dilemma of self-expression and its pitfalls while job searching. If you’re looking for work in a more traditional environment, then there are some basic steps to prepare which are fairly easy to find with a quick Google search or in a visit to your campus Career Center.
So I’m just going to add my 2 cents to the breadth of information already available!
1. Research, Research, Research
It is critical that you have a good understanding of the organization, not only its values and mission, but the organizational culture. Not only should you review (study) their website and job description, but also find any additional sources you can to learn as much as you can. If you know someone who works, take the time to interview them and ask questions about leadership, decision making, and attitudes. Remember, your interviewing them as well so come with your own questions. Both you and the employer should determine if you are not only a fit for the position but for the organization. I went on a job interview, with a panel of about 7 staff, and it was evident to me where the tensions and shortcomings were within that organization so I withdrew my application. I was confident I wasn’t a fit for me.
Be informed about the dress code policy so you don’t over or under dress for the interview. If you’re unsure, give a quick call and ask the reception or HR Director.
2. Don’t be annoying!
There are some basics for job interviews, and I get annoyed with potential candidates who don’t cover them. The basics:
- Have a hard copy of your resume, cover letter, and references. Don’t make me have to sort through emails or wait for you to send me something.
- Dress appropriately (for the position and organization, not everything requires a suit and/or tie).
- Don’t wear too much jewelry, and nothing that makes noise.
- Don’t wear perfume or cologne; most places are “perfume free” environments now anyway.
- Turn off your cell phone.
- No when you can start, and don’t ask for time off.
- Make sure if I Google your name, I don’t find online photos of your cleavage or late night escapades or content with profanity.
3. Be yourself!
I don’t want to be surprised and have a totally different person show up the first day of work. So you want to present your best self but it should also be your “authentic” self. If you’re funny, have a sense of humor. If you’re creative, make sure they know it. And most importantly be honest! Don’t oversell your education and experience, the employer wants an honest assessment of what they’re going to get from you. Which means it is equally important not to underestimate your value (WOMEN ARE YOU LISTENING??). Know your worth and be honest about it.
Remember these are challenging times, with a very competitive job market. Be willing to try something new, consider an entry level position (if you have the chops, you’ll climb up the ladder quickly), and have realistic expectations.
Are you ready?