Landing that all important first job after college can be a source of sleepless nights. There’s so much advice out there about what to wear, what to say, and what to do that it’s hard to know where to start.
There are plenty of books to guide job seekers through the interview process. So, rather than go through a lengthy list of do’s and don’ts, the focus of this article is on building a positive mindset.
Let’s say you know what type of job you want. You’ve researched companies, come up with a winning resume and have enough “dress for success” fashions in your closet. You’re ready to go out and get that job. There’s just one other thing you need to do. Ace the interview. This is usually where things fall apart.
It seems easy enough. Just make an appointment. Show up on time and put your best foot forward, right? Well, yes and no. You do have to make a good impression, but most people go overboard. In their enthusiasm—or desperation—they forget about what they really want or need in their desire to please the interviewer. What ends up happening is that no one is pleased, especially the interviewer. People can sense insincerity or a lack of confidence, regardless of that $400 suit you may be wearing.
So how do you ace the interview and be yourself? Is it really possible? Here’s what you need to remember:
The person on the other side of the desk is a human being, complete with their own set of personal flaws and insecurities. They may be just as uneasy about talking to a total stranger as you are.
Don’t just sit there answering question after question. Show interest in the position by firing off a few questions of your own.
Value your time. If you’re hired, you will give up 40 hours or more of your life each week for an indefinite amount of time. Of course, you need the money. But you can get that from a number of possible jobs. Your time (your life) can’t be replaced by anyone.
Carefully study your resume and memorize a few key points. Be prepared to explain anything that it covers as well as things it doesn’t. If your work history is spotty —not uncommon during an economic crisis—anticipate what you may be asked in order to prepare a positive response.
Here are a few examples of how to respond:
1. Why do you want to work for ABC Company?
“My research shows ABC is a growing company…”
2. Why should we hire you?
“I believe I meet all (or most) of the important qualifications. I have “X” number of years in the industry…”
If you really feel confident, answer the same question this way: “You should hire me because you like me!” A friend of mine gave this unexpected response and got hired on the spot. It’s a fact that, all things being equal, employers will hire those whom they like the most. It’s a natural human reaction.
Never speak badly about a former employer. While the interviewer may listen with interest or even sympathize, badmouthing your boss is unattractive. No one wants to be around whiners and complainers, especially when you haven’t been hired yet.
Sometimes job seekers ruin their own chances because they feel bad about themselves.. They may feel responsible for being fired or let go from their last job. A new job means a new start. So do some soul searching. Ask yourself what you will do differently in your next job to make yourself more valuable. Decide your career is too important to hold grudges—even with yourself.
Desperation makes people uneasy. And many job seekers are unaware they are sending out these negative vibes. Employers subconsciously pick up on the messages and reject the appllicants. It is important not to approach job hunting from the standpoint of need–even if you’re down to your last pack of Top Ramen.
I love this quote from the late author Eric Butterworth: “As you sit thinking , ‘If only I could find a job,’ some employer is at that very moment thinking, ‘If only we could find the right person to fill this position.'”
You are not some needy person trying to make something of yourself against all odds. You are a valuable person with a dream to fulfill and a purpose to express. As you gather your resume and put on your Sunday best, put on a winning attitude. Then you’ll really be dressed for success.