Now that you know how to not get hired, let’s move on to getting the job.
1. Want the job.
Employers want to be loved, too. Tell me why you want this job. If you don’t really want it (like the applicant who recently answered “honestly, there’s not a lot out there”) then don’t apply. It’ll save us both time.
I’ve heard people complain that they sent out 500 resumes and got nothing. I’m not surprised. Try sending out five, for jobs you’d like to have.
2. Show interest.
Okay, so maybe you don’t want this job, or any job. Maybe plucking chickens at my nugget factory isn’t exciting, but you really need a paycheck and there aren’t any better options. Find something positive – and specific – to say. Show that you are mature, responsible, and willing to play this important role in the quick-frozen-poultry-finger-food-industry, which does so much to serve the busy moms of America.
3. Be polite.
Be on time for the interview. Bring a copy of your resume. Bring a few questions about the company and the job. Don’t ask me for detailed driving directions to the interview. (Get them online, or call back and ask the receptionist. It’s not that I mind telling you, but when you handle the trivia yourself you show both respect for my time and that you are sensible and competent to handle details on your own.)
4. Dress up.
Does what you’re wearing matter? No. What matters is that you show you cared enough to make an effort. Dress at least one level above the norm for the workplace you’re applying at. You may know that everybody wears jeans and t-shirts at this office, and you can, too. Starting on your second day at work. Dress up for the interview (and the first day on the job).
I wish I could make this a minimum requirement, but only 1 in 50 applicants does it.
Research the company, the job, and even the person you are interviewing with. This should be part of picking the five jobs you are applying for; at the very least it should be part of your interview preparation.
The wealth of data on the Internet makes this insanely easy. I am amazed at the number of people who come in for an interview and haven’t even read the About Us page on our web site. (Be assured, if I’ve called you in for an interview, you’ve been Googled.)
Beyond showing good sense, this shows interest in the job and respect for the interviewer. It keeps you from asking me a question clearly answered on the front page of our web site.
For positions like marketing, where research skills are a key job competency, I often start the interview by asking the applicant to tell me what our company does. If they pass that test, I ask “Who am I?”
Because if they haven’t read the very-easy-to-find bio of the person whose signature they want to see on a paycheck every two weeks, how can I expect them to find journalists, bloggers, competitors, customers and partners?