Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thursday Thirteen

13 things to check for that important job interview

Yes, I'm retired from academe, but I remember a few things about being on a "search committee." Maybe things have changed since 2000, but this was my experience.

1) Check your personal appearance. Some will groan, others will say, doh! I can still remember interviewing women in the late 1980s and early 1990s (think shoulder pads and big hair) who looked like a time warp from Woodstock--sandals, peasant blouse, flouncy, ethnic skirt, and long, straight stringy hair. For the committee the message, even if incorrect, is that you haven't had a new idea in years. Maybe update the frames for your glasses or toss the t-shirts. Take out the nose ring and cover your tattoo; get a real haircut. If you're too proud or haughty to snip off the pony tail, maybe this isn't the time for a job change.

2) Check your resume's appearance and content. These days you've sent it in a digital format, but it still needs to be grammatically correct, attractive when printed out for the committee, accurate, and not too wordy. It's a job, not a biography. I remember reading a resume that had a sentence with more than 100 words.

3) Check your network. This is on-going whether you're job hunting or not. Don't burn any bridges. Someone at the new location/ job will know someone from your past. . . someone you dissed in the cafeteria or meeting, someone you flirted or slept with, someone who thinks you're not a team player, someone who's heard all your excuses for being late.

4) Check your references. Talk to them personally. What has changed? If it's been a few years and you're both in other jobs, maybe it's time to freshen the list, or it will look a little odd.

5) Check the geographic location. Unless the candidate grew up in Bucyrus, or had a parent living in Indiana, we all knew we have no oceans or mountains in central Ohio, but occasionally the candidate seemed surprised by acres of corn and soybeans and wanted more than we could offer. It was a waste of everyone's time.

Check your oral presentation
    6) How's your English? Not your accent, but your grammar and slang. Do you mumble? Stare at your feet? Do you start every sentence with "like," or "now" or "yeah?" Work with a coach if need be. Videotape yourself if you need to give a presentation and have someone you trust critique.

    7) How are your teeth? If you are 40 or younger, you've probably had them straightened, capped, bonded or whitened. If you are older, at least have them whitened if you smoke, drink coffee or tea. If this seems odd, just take a look at the smile of a Gen-Y friend (18-29). You'll be doing a lot of smiling (I hope) at this interview.

    8) Talk too much? It's hard to break this habit--but for a job interview, you may have to bite your tongue. Do you chatter, leap from topic to topic, wear out even your spouse? Women particularly give out more personal information than anyone wants to know. Keep quiet about your children, your pets, in-laws, etc. Be prepared to answer a few probing questions with even fewer words.

    9) Know something about the company, product, campus, etc., but also prepare some questions for others. People will like you better if you aren't a know-it-all. There's a fine line between sounding stupid and interested.
Check these at the door.
    10) Evangelism. Whether it is religion, politics or your carbon footprint, you won't know who on the committee or in the personnel office thinks Al Gore is a nut, or who is a libertarian, or who hates Baptists, Mormons, Muslims, Unitarians, etc.

    11) Your cell phone, BlackBerry. This should be self-explanatory, but a lot of people forget to turn them off, or think it is OK to check their e-mail at lunch. Leave it in the motel or the car! A blast of your your favorite rock ringtone wouldn't be good if you're sitting in the CEO's office. If you can't unplug long enough to complete an interview or resist text messaging your best friend, perhaps you need to stay where you are.

    12) Your blog or social networking site on the internet. Unless you've been writing about a product line or an information service, dump these. Quick. Someone will always know, no matter how anonymous you think you are. I know I've seen conflicting advice on this, but not everyone in the company is up on blather and gossip as a networking tool and may think you just have a trash mouth on a back-stabbing body.

    13) Your music. You wouldn't list your age on your resume, so why do it by talking about what's on your i-pod? You may be a fan of Led Zeppelin because the group was big in your teens, but that's "classics" or dad's music for the younger set.


Holly said...

What a great TT list. Excellent advice. I often interview candidates for my company and have been truly appalled by some appearances/resumes out there.

But..I have to say..I'm truly baffled by #13. Has someone actually done that? Listed the contents of their iPod on their resume?

That scares me a bit.

Lazy Daisy said...

Hello Norma....Haven't been by to visit with you in quite a while. Excellent list as always. Great advice. Don't be a stranger.

katherine. said...

having served on MANY search never ceases to amaze me how people come to an interview.

Norma said...

Holly--people don't list it, but do talk about their dowloaded music. We always arranged informal lunches or meetings--casual stuff--but it all leaves an impression.

The Rock Chick said...

Great advice!!! I see many people applying for jobs where I work that are more than qualified, but you'd never know it by the way they present themselves. I know people would like to believe that your appearance should have no bearing on things, but it's not true. How you present yourself has a major impact on what people think of you!

Happy TT!
Jessica The Rock Chick

JAM said...

Great advice. I don't hire anyone, and in the engineering world, most people are pretty squared away as far as what you have listed here, but back when I managed restaurants and hired low pay folks like bus boys and dish washers, I got some doozies. Thing is, even back then I wouldn't just hire anyone with a pulse as it seems restaurants do these days.

Anonymous said...

When I was an employer I encountered some strange people at interviews. One showed up in bright orange spandex shorts. Another kept his Walkman headphones on, insisting that he could still hear me. Strangely enough, I did not hire either of them!