Last week I was interviewing a young lady and recent college graduate for a position that I have in my business coaching practice. She was great! She came to the meeting prepared, dressed for business and had done her homework. It was so refreshing that I caught myself smiling. I was smiling because this sharp young woman was somewhat of a rarity.
Unfortunately, most of the interviews that I have done over the years were not nearly as enjoyable. Sometimes interviewing job applicants can be a very strange experience. I always thought that maybe the people that I had interviewed had just beamed in from another dimension just to meet with me, but the more I hear stories from other businesspeople, I just think it’s a problem that needs addressed in the school systems, including college and graduate school.
The comedian, Ron White, says, “You can’t fix stupid!” and I think that is probably true based on some of my experiences but I’m beginning to wonder if many applicants just don’t know any better. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, something new happens. A few examples include:
-A man interviewed dressed in a black trench coat and sunglasses. He did not take them off during the entire interview. In fact to start the meeting he came in, sat down and stared at me, spoke little, said thanks and left.
– An applicant interviewed well but when asked about the contact number he gave me he got very quiet. Home, I asked? No. Office? No. Parents home? No. Cell phone? No. Girlfriends? No…on and on. Finally he told me it was a payphone….in a hallway….in a ward…where he may or may not answer…..
– I’ve had people show up high (and not high on life)…but HIGH!
– I’ve had people show up drunk.
– I’ve had people show up and all during the (short) interview, check their e-mail.
– I’ve had people come in for an interview and ask, “So what do you do around here?”
– Just the other day I saw an applicant at a restaurant come in and ask for an application and an interview. He was dressed in flip flops, baggy pants, an old concert tee shirt with sunglasses and a blue head bandana. Think he got the job?
– And, the one that get’s my hair on end the most is the person who comes in looking for a job with no resume, no experience, no current job, sometimes just out of school and wants a minimum of $100,000 a year to honor me with their presence.
Are you kidding? I must admit that I get quite frustrated whenever this kind of thing happens. And these are just a small sample of my experience. I’m sure some of you out there have stories that make mine look tame. And, if you do, please share them with me. I would love to hear about your adventures.
Again, you can’t always fix stupid…but we can do a better job at teaching people some of the basic rules of interviewing. Here are a few that I think are important.
- Dress for Success! Whether you’re interviewing for a job in fast food or a banker, dress like you have some pride in yourself. Being “casually hip” just doesn’t cut it for many employers. Ditch the flip flops and baggy pants! At least, dress in business casual and don’t take any chances until you know what the dress code is!
- Come Prepared! Do a little research. Know something about the company. Know something about the job you’re applying for.
- Shut off your cell phone! Do not, I repeat, do not check Facebook while in an interview!
- Be curious! Be sure to ask some questions. Smart questions are preferred but ask some questions about the pay; job requirement; benefits; chances for advancement.
- Be a Great Listener! Ask me the questions and then shut up and listen. In fact be an active listener! Show me you can pay attention and are the least bit interested in me, my job and the time I’m giving you from my day.
- Sell Me! If you’re applying with me, you had better have some idea as to why I should hire you and why you could make a difference for me and my business. Telling me you will listen and work harder than anyone else goes a lot farther with me than flashing your diploma.
- Close Me! Don’t be afraid to at least try to close the deal with me. Ask me to hire you! The worst I might say is no. But believe me I will appreciate it if you sell me and close me!
- Check Back! Many employers, no matter how much they liked an applicant, will not call the applicant back after the first interview until the applicant shows enough interest to follow up on their own. Then, once the employer sees that there is interest on BOTH sides, they will then move forward. It’s not a game; it’s a matter of hiring someone who really wants the opportunity.