BOB LANKARD: Down the home stretch
The job interview is like the seventh game of the playoffs. It doesn’t matter which team won the most games during the regular season. The team MVP can become the goat. In the same way, your great resume, references and background can be blown in the interview.
“If you grew up in Chicago, why did you go to college in South Carolina?” a job applicant for a position in western Pennsylvania was once asked. The applicant replied, “To get away from the cold and snow.” It was a flip comment, one he made not realizing he had eliminated himself in 15 seconds.
There are other ways to wipe out good experience and training with interview replies:
• Not listening carefully to a question. It’s so easy to be focused on your answer that you miss the actual question. A lot of the questions sound alike. Pause, consider the actual question, then proceed.
• Poor personal appearance. Going to an interview wearing a shirt with spaghetti sauce stains, baseball caps worn backwards, and T-shirts with offensive slogans are extreme examples of interview-blowing appearance issues.
• Negative comments about previous employers. Interviewers frequently ask about reasons for leaving previous jobs. Unfortunately, this question allows job seekers to blow their job opportunity by trashing a previous employer. The interviewer will reason “trouble with last employer; trouble with us.” The solution is for job seekers to practice answering this question in an acceptable manner.
Another way to blow your interview is to not do your homework before an interview. One job seeker lost a job because he had not looked at the company’s website. Another gave the wrong answer about his availability for weekend work because he did not know the expectations of the employer.
The job seeker should walk into a job interview with some facts already established:
Learn the essential purpose of the business. This knowledge will enable you to ask specific questions and help you impress the employer. On the other hand, it is a kiss of death to ask, “What do you do here?”
Know how many hours are available and the shifts you will be expected to work. Normally you will learn this from the job listing. Are you available these hours?
Is the job part-time? Many job seekers feel the number of hours for part-time work is defined by law. Not so. Find out the actual number of hours the employer is offering. Are you comfortable with that?
Learn the employer’s distinctions. To some applicants this may appear to be a “why bother” category; however, it is to your advantage to learn employer distinctions.
Employer’s distinctions are: how does this business differ from the competition, any recent mention in the media, you or family members that are customers of the business and any personal connection you have with the interviewer or manager.
If a manager has interviewed 20 applicants that day, she will remember the one who wore her college’s T-shirt.