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Deb Neuman Deb Neuman
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Don’t wear your PJ’s to a job interview

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Nothing makes me do a happy dance faster than receiving an email and resume from a college senior who is hoping to work in Maine after graduation. T'is the time of year when new graduates are about to hit the pavement with resumes in hand, looking for that first job. So I thought I would offer them, and anyone else who is job hunting, some interview dos and don’ts.

Let’s begin with the results of a survey of 3,000 employers conducted for Career Builder where employers ranked the top mistakes made during an interview.

  • Answering a cell phone or texting: 77 percent
  • Appearing disinterested: 75 percent
  • Dressing inappropriately: 72 percent
  • Appearing arrogant: 72 percent
  • Talking negatively about current or previous employers: 67 percent
  • Chewing gum: 63 percent

Some of the respondents noted their most memorable interview moments – consider these “learning opportunities”:

  • “Candidate brought a “how to interview book” with him to the interview.”
  • “When a candidate interviewing for a security position wasn’t hired on the spot, he graffitied the building.”
  • “Candidate wore a Boy Scout uniform and never told interviewers why.”
  • “Candidate was arrested by federal authorities during the interview when a background check revealed the person had an outstanding warrant”.
  • “Candidate talked about promptness as one of her strengths after showing up ten minutes late.”
  • “On the way to the interview, candidate passed, cut-off, and flipped middle finger to driver who happened to be the interviewer.”

I asked my Facebook friends to chime in with their interviewing do’s/don’ts and best stories:

  • “Research the employer and the job position. Know something about what the company is about and what your job will entail before going for the interview.”
  • “When the application asks if you speak any other languages do not write 'Klingon,' no matter how funny you think it is.”
  • “Wear decent cloths...your boxers should truly not be showing!”
  • “Don't wear any unnecessary jewelry...You don't want to have explain your ying-yang ring when you should be talking about the job...don't wear cologne or perfume. It's an interview - not a date.”
  • “Never try to justify any wrong-doing in your work history or talk down former employers.”
  • “Clear, direct responses to answers, try to limit the 'ums' and the 'likes' – (I’m like a people person.)”.
  • “Do not be late. My time is valuable. Making me wait for you gives me a look at your work ethic and it's not a good look.”
  • “When interviewing candidates say "I am available nights and weekends" or whatever they think the interviewer wants to hear for them to get the job. Only to change the story after getting the job. Tell the truth!”
  • “Do follow up with a Thank You letter within 24 to 48 hours after the interview.”

Here are some - “you can’t make this up” interview moments

  • “Do not go into great detail about all the drama in your life: 'My boyfriend is in jail so maybe I will meet a new guy on one of these construction jobs.' 'I never miss Ladies Night at Barnaby's so if you could not schedule me for Thursday that would be great.'”
  • “I told an applicant that we're a casual workplace and to come comfortable....she showed up in pajamas.”
  • “The woman whose introduction included an apology for having her pantyhose on backwards because she was in a hurry to get to the interview.”
  • “I recall the fellow who applied for a radio announcer job because he heard that we 'work sitting down' and he had 'bad feet.' Needless to say he didn't become a star.”
  • “A candidate told us he sometimes likes to take off and head to Florida at a moments notice. 'So if I don't show up for work without calling, I am probably there? It might be a week or two before I come back unless my money runs out sooner. And by the way do you give advances in pay?'”
  • “They asked if there was anything else she would like to share at the end of the interview and she said, 'well there's this other job that I interviewed for at the beginning of the week and I really want that one, they said they'd get back to me by the end of the week so I might not even be available for this job.' Needless to say, she didn't get either job.”
  • “The interview begins when I, or an assistant calls the candidates to schedule the interview. I have deleted many candidates over the years solely based on their behavior on the telephone. When they realize that I am the decision-maker, suddenly their tone changes and they call me ma'am. Ha., love those moments.”

I will add to that, be nice to everyone! I interviewed Zappos about their hiring practices. They told me that when they interview candidates – they put them up at a hotel and have a driver bring them to their offices for the interview. Afterwards, they circle back to the staff at the hotel and the driver to find out how the candidates treated them. If a candidate was rude to the hotel staff, they were not hired!

Hopefully these tips and stories will help prepare you to win the job you are seeking. As you get out there - remember these top Ps for interviewing:

Be prompt, positive, polite and professional and don’t show up in your pajamas!

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