Special Job Interview Considerations

Overcoming Nervousness on A Job Interview

Nervousness is a normal reaction to an interview. You should be nervous so don't be alarmed by it. Professional speakers and entertainers use nervousness by harnessing the energy from these overactive nerves and focusing them on increased performance and alertness. Nervousness can actually be the catalyst for one of your best performances ever.

If you find yourself overly nervous, go to the restroom and push hard on the wall to transfer the stress to the wall and refocus your body. Many public speakers swear by this. To create the same effect during the interview, you can grab the sides of your seat or push your hands together. If you find yourself becoming anxious, try breathing deeply and slowly.

Remember that the interviewer is probably as nervous as you are. Interviewers are ordinary people who face the same personal issues that you do. Try to imagine the interviewer as being your neighbor cutting the grass on Saturday morning - or getting groceries at the store.

Try to relax. Remind yourself that you are one of the finalists and have already been perceived as qualified for the position. Envision the interview as a cooperative effort (not a solo performance) where both try to complete the assignment of maintaining an interview.

Another key to reducing nervousness is to stop focusing on you and to focus on the interviewer instead. Remind yourself that the interviewer is benefiting from your knowledge and experiences, and that you are simply trying to help them understand how you can assist them.

Your Appearance Matters On A Job Interview

Appearance is a major part of creating good "chemistry." Many recruiters claim the image you project may be more important than the technical skill you possess. Remember you only have one chance at making the right first impression.

Your goal is to choose an outfit that that matches the place where you are interviewing. Dress conservatively, but with quality and style. Everyone has his/her own personal preferences when it comes to style. Choosing the wrong style can sometimes be disastrous.

Men can't go wrong wearing a top-quality dark suit, an expensive-looking white or pale shirt (no stripes or monograms), and a pure silk tie. Avoid wearing any jewelry except a wedding band. Shoes should be black and well polished.

Be meticulously groomed. Get a hair cut or trim beforehand in order to look neat and clean. Always be clean-shaven. If you have a dark shadow in the afternoons, bring a shaver. Groom your fingernails so they are clean and filed.

While women have a broader range of appropriate clothing choices for an interview, they should also try to steer away from anything non-conservative. Fashionable, but conservative, is usually the most appropriate style. Women should wear dark suits (solids, pinstripes or muted plaids) with white or colored long-sleeve blouses. The material should be a wrinkle free mixture of natural and synthetic fibers. If you must wear a skirt, make sure the length is to the knee (or slightly above). Women should always wear hose in neutral or skin tones shades. No high heels should be worn.

Accessories should be kept to a minimum. Earrings should be studs (not dangling). Hair should be off the face and pulled back. Choose to bring either a brief case or a purse - not both.

In regards to perfume, it is better to use none than to risk offending someone (perfume scent is very personal).

What About Paying Your Own Way On A Job Interview?

If you are unsuccessful in scheduling an interview, you might offer to pay your way since you are confident of being the right fit for the job. Some candidates will even offer to work at no charge for 30 days to prove they are the right choice. However, if an employer is unwilling to schedule an interview, or to pay a candidate's interviewing expenses, then the employer is probably not going to hire the candidate.

Most employers would rather find a local or regional candidate because they are concerned about the rising costs of relocation, and the risk that he/she (or the family) may not like the area. Consequently, some employers are reluctant to consider candidates outside of the region.

Unless it's the job of the century, you should not offer to pay your way. If the employer is not comfortable enough to pay for your airfare, they will probably not be comfortable paying for your relocation. In the end, you might suggest a phone interview in order to make sure you think the investment is worth it.

Job Interviewing When You've Been Fired Or Laid Off

It is best not to volunteer this information until after you have had a chance to successfully sell yourself at the interview. If confronted, you should not try to hide it. Do not deny taking responsibility for where you may have gone wrong.

Most employers try to get employees to resign when confronted with a termination. This benefits the employee in seeking new employment and eliminates any potential lawsuits for wrongful termination. Always get your employer to agree to your resignation and to put it in writing.

Once resigned, you can freely communicate that you left the company for a number of reasons (e.g. you were seeking greater opportunities for growth and greater challenges).

If you are concerned that the employer may not support your resignation story once you are gone, it may be wise to tell the new employer that you did have a difference of opinion on how the Comco project should be run. Maybe there was a management or procedural change that resulted in your leaving. There could be any number of reasons used as valid explanations.

If laid off, you should communicate that many other employees were laid off for similar reasons. Perhaps you can say that sales dropped and, therefore, layoffs commenced. State that this was beyond your control, and that other senior personnel absorbed your position.

If it was your fault, admit to the error stating that you believe you have learned from your mistake. Never try and blame other people for what happened to you. Demonstrate that you understand where you failed and how you will avoid repeating this again.

You might want to state something similar to the following: "My termination was, in fact, my fault. I had personal problems that have now straightened up. At the time, I was frequently late and my supervisor had to cut back. With my poor attendance record, he was given a good reason to terminate me."

Job Interviewing if You Have No Degree or The Wrong Degree

Most companies will agree that a good education does not mean a good employee. In fact, there is little proof that those with college education achieve more than those without it.

Those having a college education should have greater communication skills and a wider knowledge base than those without a degree, but this is not always the case. There are many intelligent and successful people who have not pursued a college degree for a variety of reasons (e.g. entered the work force due to personal reasons or due to lack of financial resources after high school).

You can always say that you are willing to pursue a degree if the employer considers it necessary and was willing to finance it. However, you might simply ask what the degree would do for you and the company?

Job Interviewing When You Don't Have Enough Experience Or The Wrong Experience

Often the best way to handle the issue of not having enough experience is to stress the fact that it is often easier to teach someone to do things the right way the first time rather than to try and reprogram someone who has already developed the wrong habits.

Experience and work skills are often transferable. Even though someone may not have retail management experience, the fact that they have restaurant or customer management experience indicates that they are capable of managing the same type of customers - and have developed the same type of skills. Try to present your experience and skills to show how they apply to the new position. Taking a successful salesperson from one industry and training him/her to sell in a different industry is often easier than taking someone with a limited success record with the right product or industry experience, and teaching them to be successful.

Overcome the employer's concern by selling the skills and qualifications that make you a good hire. Stress the importance of having the right attitude, a good education, good people skills, a history of successful performance, and the motivation to learn the new product line.

Maintaining Confidentiality When Job Interviewing

It's common practice for all employer/candidate relationships to be understood as a relationship based on confidentiality. However, there are many incidents where candidates or employers become vulnerable. Always stress the strict confidential nature of your meeting with the recruiter or employer before and during the meeting. State that no references are to be checked without your prior approval.

To avoid raising unusual eyebrows at work, it might be best to make the interview after work hours, before work, on the weekend, and at a safe place (airport or hotel lobby) that would suggest a chance encounter. If you must take a day off during the week, you might want to consider taking a vacation or sick day. The worst mistake you could make is to come to work in a suit and tie when you normally would wear a sports jacket with no tie. Don't look or act suspicious.

Developing Good "Chemistry" and "Like-ability" On A Job Interview

Developing chemistry is perhaps one of the most important aspects of getting hired and getting others to like you. Many professional recruitment firms will state that "chemistry" is perhaps the strongest reason why one candidate gets hired over another. The basic principal is that people like people who are like themselves.

Learning to develop good "chemistry" with interviewers is simply learning to develop good people skills. Hiring and promotion decisions are often made on the basis of a candidate's "people skills." Personality can override credentials. Being seen as a person who will fit into the team can gain you entry into a firm and speed your promotion through the ranks. So your career - and the people you work with every day - deserve your best interpersonal skills.

Career advancement requires one to be likable. Develop a considerate personality. Be diplomatic and equally polite to your colleagues at all levels. Maintain a relaxed and open bearing. When approaching others, be sensitive to their point of view, their needs, and personal preferences. Find areas of common interest rather than stressing your differences. Accommodate their level of education and experience, and stretch yourself to put them at ease. Be a good listener. Draw people out. A good book regarding developing relationships is Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People"; Pocketbooks, NY. The concept of mirroring is very effective in building rapport and "like-ability." Find similarities and focus on them (i.e. methods of doing work, philosophy on projects, personal hobbies, childhood neighborhoods, etc.). Listen to the questions, statements and feelings. People like to be listened to more than they like to listen. You can show "like-ability" by summarizing, rephrasing, and playing back what the interviewer says. Everyone enjoys working with an agreeable person. Smiling communicates that you are an agreeable person.

One helpful technique is to ask open-ended questions rather than yes-or-no questions. "What are your feelings about..." "What's your analysis of..." and "Tell me about..." are more inviting than "Don't you agree that...".

Make a strong effort to remember names. Remembering names of your colleagues and associates (especially if your contact is brief and occasional), reflects your respect. The sweetest sound, it's been said, is the sound of one's name on the lips of another person. When trying to recall names, repeat the name of a person when you first meet, and use it at least twice in your initial conversation. Thinking and saying the name (while looking at the person) helps imprint the name/face relationship. Word association can also help you remember names. If Maple Cox is a new acquaintance, try associating her with a fox resting under a maple tree - that is, if Maple has a relaxed personality. Otherwise, you might associate the fox jumping into the maple tree. The sillier or more unusual your image, the more likely you will retain it.

Treat your support staff and peers with respect. If you give them encouragement and rewards for a job well done, they will try even harder the next time. Seek your staff's advice and admit your own limitations. Be specific about your needs, and follow up with a compliment, a thank-you note, or a phone call. Those who help you will be pleased that you recognized and valued their skills.

A word of caution: be sincere in your interactions. Don't use people or flatter them just to grease the wheels of your career. Most people can spot a phony. Self-centered managers often feel stymied in their careers. Why? Because their coworkers throw stumbling blocks in their path. When you're being considered for promotion, your coworkers will be asked their opinion of your work and character. That's when any selfishness or insensitivity will come back to haunt you.

Dealing With Employment Contracts on A Job Interview

There are many pros and cons to having an employment contract. Generally it is thought that candidates should not ask for an employment contract unless they have special circumstances regarding their compensation package. Most written agreements can be in the form of an offer letter that covers a candidate's concerns such as severance pay.

The problem with an employment contract is that it delays the hiring process and often complicates the hire to the point of jeopardizing it. Contracts will involve lawyers, and lawyers will dig up worst-case scenarios that cause both parties to give concessions only if they get an equivalent return (such as one year's severance pay for three year's non-compete and trade secret confidentiality). Some contracts will guarantee certain bonus pay from an employer in exchange for candidate reimbursement of relocation costs should the candidate leave before the first 12 months of employment. The battle over details often causes both parties to become adversarial. This is no way to begin an employer/employee relationship. They are always double-edged swords and need to be dealt with very carefully.

Try to add into your offer package any issues you would like to address in an employment contract. If your goal from an employment contract standpoint is to get severance pay should you be terminated for anything other than illegal acts or blatant negligence, then request severance pay to be added to your letter of employment. Severance pay is sometimes offered to managers and executives, and usually ranges between three and twelve months, with four months being the average). If you want a "golden parachute" then expect "golden handcuffs" in return.

Drug Testing on A Job Interview

All large or national employers require applicants to take a drug test. It is legal. In fact, many of the smaller employers require it as well. If you want to work for a company that does not require a drug test, ask before the interview if they require a drug test. Some tests can determine drug use up to a year prior to being tested.

If you have taken any drugs prior to being tested, it is a good idea to tell the employer that you did use the substance, but do not use it any longer. You might also suggest that you would be willing to be re-tested periodically if required.

Job Interviewing With Psychological and Pre-Employment Testing

When making an employment decision, employers often have little to go on except for a first impression and a few references. There is also the rising cost of hiring and turnover. Consequently, many of today's employers are turning to psychological and pre-employment testing in order to help them better evaluate candidates. There are many types of testing such as skill, integrity, personality, aptitude and interests tests. Tests can also take the form of job applications, job interviews, credit and reference checks, and drug tests. Some tests require interviews with licensed psychologists, but someone in Human Resources administers most at the employer's office.

Most tests attempt to compare candidate personality and interests to predetermined profiles submitted by the employer for specific job roles. However, some tests go to greater lengths to identify candidate intelligence and to see whether a candidate has personal problems in his/her life, are nonconformists, have authority or hostility problems, and to identify a host of other qualities that could pose a problem to the employer.

Few candidates like taking tests. Refusing to take the test means refusing to be considered for the position. Is there a way to beat the test? Some tests are possible to beat. The key is to have performed sufficient research on the company and the job position so that you have a good idea of how the "right" or ideal candidate will answer the questions. Always try to answer positively, and show confidence by rating yourself higher than you honestly feel. You should also make yourself appear happy and stable. Most people do not like the idea of being tested. However, the good news about testing is that candidates should want to work with a firm that is willing to invest money and time to find the best and brightest talent. Testing also ensures standardization creating a level playing field where all candidates are treated equally. Before interviewing, you might try to learn what type of testing is required. Ask how the test is relevant to the job.

Preparing for A Job Interview

Always be prepared to support claims made in your resume (or in the interview) with quality references. Whenever you perform well on a task, it's important to collect letters of accommodation so that your success gets documented. Make copies of your achievements, awards and written references. References should come from previous managers, suppliers and customers. Employers look at business references, but will sometimes consider a personal reference if it is from a recognized leader.

Before submitting references to a potential employer, make sure to contact your references and prepare them. In order to prepare the references, stress the skills that the employer will be looking for.