I talk to women all the time who have have been laid off or left a job and are now struggling to find a new place of employment to call home. When I ran a proprietary school several years ago, I had the advantage of being able to interview staff and make the hiring decisions for my location. Being on the other side of the conference table taught me a lot (and how to warn others) about the mistakes people make during a job interview, particularly the mistakes many women make. So, without further adieu, here are some tips:
1. Dress the part
Avoid mini skirts, too much make up, and excessive jewelry. A smart black or navy blue pantsuit and white blouse is the best way to go. Do not wear bracelets or long earrings of any kind. Think studs and a pearl necklace, if you must wear jewelry. If you have tattoos make sure that they are concealed completely. Like it or not, potential employers judge you based on how you present yourself, and that presentation begins with your choice of outfit.
2. Chewing gum
Do not, whatever you do, chew gum in an interview. Even if you dress to the most professional of standards, this is distracting and irritating to the interviewer. Chewing gum during an interview, takes away from what you are saying to the interviewer, as he concentrates more on you smacking your mouth, than what's coming out of it. Before you go into an interview, pop a Tic Tac or a Mentos for fresh breath, but do not chew gum.
3. Be prepared
One of the most annoying things I came across when interviewing potential hires happened to be the lack of preparation they showed about the interview. They knew nothing about the company, the position, or the society. They just showed up with a resume in hand, and fingers crossed. Take some time to do research about the company. Bring those notes in with you to the interview along with a fresh, crisp copy of your resume, and be prepared to showcase what you learned about the company in your research.
4. Apathetic or fidgety
In many cases, I understand it was a nervous behavior. Many ladies would appear apathetic in an event to not seem desperate about wanting a job, or they would squirm in an attempt to conceal their nerves. Nervous or not, this isn't putting your best foot forward. You need to approach an interview with wide eyed enthusiasm. Be a sponge. Soak up your surroundings and learn to read the body language of your interviewer. Most importantly, sit with your knees together, legs crossed at the ankles and hands in your lap throughout the interview.
5. Cliche answers
If I had a nickel for every time I asked the question, "What's your biggest fault?" and someone answered, "I work too hard" or "I'm too much of a perfectionist", I would have nickels up to the moon and back. The problem with multiple candidates for a job is that they all read from the same playbook and don't own creativity or confidence in their answers. When studying interview questions online, really think about your answer, and how you are going to personalize it and make it different than the other 59 people being interviewed for that same position. Stay away from stock and cliche answers if you want to leave a lasting impression on your interviewer.
Of course, there are those times in life that walk in, nail the meeting and they still don't hire you. Unfortunately, it happens. The trick is not to let that get you down. Pick yourself up and look at the last interview as practice, a dress rehearsal before your opening hit show. Finding a job takes time, finding the right job takes preparation, skill, finesse and a little bit of luck.
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