Always knock and always smile. That summed up my first week of interviews for several positions we are trying to fill to keep up with the expanding workload. The interview process has to be one of the most nerve-racking experiences for the person being interviewed. Having been on both sides of the table many time, I can safely say that it is not as bad for the person giving the interview.
He’s a Friend
I prefer ‘keeping it in the family’ meaning that I prioritize those candidates that have been recommended by people already in my network. There is still something to be said for those candidates that are a friend of a friend or that someone you trust has ‘vouched’ for. That kind of recommendation still carries a lot of weight. In order to get those types of candidates in the door, I have been using my Facebook page to let people know that we are in the market for design interns, web developers and design assistants.
The Craiglist Factor
Just to see what was out there, I placed a free ad on Craigslist, and within minutes I had numerous emails bombarding my inbox. There is a huge pool of talent out there on both a local, national and global level. We received responses from our own town (which is ideal), from Ohio (long commute) and from as far away as India. These guys must have automatic feelers out there just capturing and alerting them to these types of job postings. I’m a big fan of telecommuting but I do feel there is an inherent benefit from face-to-face project kick-off and brainstorm sessions, so the ideal candidates can’t be 100% virtual, we do want to see and meet team members in person, at least initially.
The real reason that its important for me to meet potential candidates in person is because part of our branding, mission and message is that we are the “navy seals” (apologies to the Real Navy Seals) at what we do. Our team members have to be the best at their specific area of expertise. It may come from the fact that I used to be an avid GI Joe collector and remember that each team member came with his own file card complete with specialties and specific skill sets that complimented the team. We have established a great reputation and believe in long-term relationships with our clients so we have to have good team chemistry.
This first week of interviews was comprised entirely of folks who came with recommendations. We had quite a motley crew of people that came in, five total, each with his/her own ‘pitch’ and interview style. All of them came professionally dressed, and all of them knocked. Except one. Coincidentally, he was also the least experienced of the group. He literally walked in and stared (he did get points for making eye contact). Didn’t smile at all. I tried doing the ‘smile, smile’ to generate a smile from him, but it didn’t work. He had a plan and he was sticking to it. I quickly realized he was just a nervous college student looking for a break. His portfolio consisted of class work, and I immediately began giving him advice and encouragement. Visibly shaken, I realized that I was looking at someone who is literally JUST starting out. Someone who deserves a chance. Despite his ‘green-ness’ he earned a second interview. He did give me a firm handshake and he wore a tie. I know how difficult it is for a college student to wear a tie, and sadly the firm handshake is something that isn’t passed down as much as it should be. I’m curious if he will smile when he comes back.
Interviewing is a process and its also a skill.
10 Tips to Boost Your Interview Skills
Even the smartest and most qualified job seekers need to prepare for job interviews. Why, you ask? Interviewing is a learned skill, and there are no second chances to make a great first impression. So study these 10 strategies to enhance your interview skills.
Practice Good Nonverbal Communication
It’s about demonstrating confidence: standing straight, making eye contact and connecting with a good, firm handshake. That first nonverbal impression can be a great beginning — or quick ending — to your interview.
Dress for the Job or Company
Today’s casual dress codes do not give you permission to dress as “they” do when you interview. It is important to know what to wear to an interview and to be well-groomed. Whether you wear a suit or something less formal depends on the company culture and the position you are seeking. If possible, call to find out about the company dress code before the interview.
From the very beginning of the interview, your interviewer is giving you information, either directly or indirectly. If you are not hearing it, you are missing a major opportunity. Good communication skills include listening and letting the person know you heard what was said. Observe your interviewer, and match that style and pace.
Don’t Talk Too Much
Telling the interviewer more than he needs to know could be a fatal mistake. When you have not prepared ahead of time, you may ramble when answering interview questions, sometimes talking yourself right out of the job. Prepare for the interview by reading through the job posting, matching your skills with the position’s requirements and relating only that information.
Don’t Be Too Familiar
The interview is a professional meeting to talk business. This is not about making a new friend. Your level of familiarity should mimic the interviewer’s demeanor. It is important to bring energy and enthusiasm to the interview and to ask questions, but do not overstep your place as a candidate looking for a job.
Use Appropriate Language
It’s a given that you should use professional language during the interview. Be aware of anyinappropriate slang words or references to age, race, religion, politics or sexual orientation — these topics could send you out the door very quickly.
Don’t Be Cocky
Attitude plays a key role in your interview success. There is a fine balance between confidence, professionalism and modesty. Even if you’re putting on a performance to demonstrate your ability, overconfidence is as bad, if not worse, as being too reserved.
Take Care to Answer the Questions
When interviewers ask for an example of a time when you did something, they are askingbehavioral interview questions, which are designed to elicit a sample of your past behavior. If you fail to relate a specific example, you not only don’t answer the question, but you also miss an opportunity to prove your ability and talk about your skills.
When asked if they have any questions, most candidates answer, “No.” Wrong answer. Part of knowing how to interview is being ready to ask questions that demonstrate an interest in what goes on in the company. Asking questions also gives you the opportunity to find out if this is the right place for you. The best questions come from listening to what you’re asked during the interview and asking for additional information.
Don’t Appear Desperate
When you interview with the “please, please hire me” approach, you appear desperate and less confident. Maintain the three Cs during the interview: cool, calm and confident. You know you can do the job; make sure the interviewer believes you can, too.
Ramon has over 19 years of experience in award-winning, market-proven, print collateral, marketing material, iphone/ipad app and website design specializing in corporate identity and branding. Ramon’s passion for entrepreneurial design was borne out of 10 years as Creative Director for Jay Walker at Walker Digital, the Stamford based idea laboratory and business incubator holding over 300 US Patents. Ramon served as Senior Art Director on the start-up launch team behind Priceline.com, a Walker company and invention. Most recently, Ramon’s logo and identity work was selected to be published in “Typography and Enclosures” the fourth book in the Master Library series by LogoLounge.
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