As a recruiter and interviewer, I often receive calls from surprised applicants who did not get a job. They complain that from their perspective, “the interview went so well.” There are many factors that make a successful interview, only one of which is wearing appropriate clothes. (Yes, you still need to dress up for the job you really want.)
Start with a strong, confident handshake. A weak, sweaty handshake sends the wrong message and if you are germ-phobic, get over it. You can run to your car and use hand sanitizer after the interview. To give a confident shake, use your whole hand. Don’t squeeze as if your life depends on it, just use some honest pressure. Practice your hand shake on a friend or co-worker and see what they think.
Another mistake many applicants make is not knowing anything about the company they are interviewing with. Most interviewers start by asking what the applicant knows about the organization. Your answer does not have to be a dissertation about the company’s stock analysis back to 1964. Give a short answer that demonstrates your knowledge about what products the company has created, the new plant that opened in Omaha or how well the company has done during recessionary times, as examples. You might also mention that you viewed their website (make sure you do) and were very impressed with their mission statement, if they have one.
Finally, it is always a good idea to know something about the job you are interviewing for. Knowing the details about the job will allow you to sneak in bits and pieces of your work history that match the job description. There is no better music to an interviewer’s ears than to hear about how much you already know about the job duties. If you don’t have the exact experience, try to find something in your background that is similar. For example, even if you have never organized an entire office, you might have organized your daughters’ wedding for 500 guests or other large projects. This demonstrates that your skills are transferable.
Following these tips may not always land you the job, but they may get you a callback, keep you in the “save for later” file or keep you on recruiters’ “hot lists” of applicants that they like, for positions that open up later in the year. Happy job hunting.
Traci Montgomery has over 20 years’ experience in the human resources and management fields with Owens Healthcare, PacifiCare, Anaheim Memorial Medical Center and Occidental Petroleum. She is currently Human Resources Director for Coventry Health Care in West Sacramento. She earned a BA in Political Science an MA in Clinical Psychology and a certificate as a senior human resources professional from the Society for Human Resources Management. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.