On the Job Hunt? Remember These Few Interview Dos and Don’ts

Twice now I’ve had the pleasure of venturing back to my alma mater (Franklin College) and helping the journalism department with some student mock job interviews. In the interviews, I am the employer and the student is testing out his or her interviewing skills, with the ultimate goal of helping the students build confidence in those skills.

I came across this infographic on Ragan Communications and found it pertinent to that experience and to anyone currently searching for a job. If you’re getting ready to interview or if you’ve had no luck in landing new employment, read on for some helpful guidelines that might just tip the scales in your favor next time.

Make sure you’ve done your research. Of 2,000 employers surveyed, 47% said the No. 1 mistake job seekers make during interviews is having no knowledge about the company.

Another one to be aware of (but this should come as no surprise): 65% of employers say clothing influences the decision between two candidates. But don’t think being overly fashionable or trendy will land you the job: 70% of employers claim they don’t want applicants who dress that way. Aiming for modest and professional is probably your best bet. And don’t go too heavy on the perfume or cologne. Your interviewer can’t focus properly on your responses if there’s a giant pink cloud of perfume surrounding you.

When I work with college students, most have some serious handshake work to do – and 26% of employers also see a weak handshake as tanking your probability of landing the job. Other physical actions that aren’t great: failure to make eye contact, not smiling, hunching over, keeping your arms crossed over your chest, making too many hand gestures, or just simple fidgeting.

The infographic also gives some handy lists to help with your interviewing, but here’s a quick one to keep handy:

  1. Learn about the organization.
  2. Have a specific job in mind.
  3. Review your qualifications for the job.
  4. Be ready to briefly describe your experience.

Good luck!

Effective Hiring Critical in Reducing Turnover

Anthony Casablanca, VP of Operations for the Batesville Casket Company and Hillenbrand, Inc., recently penned an incredibly useful column for BizVoice regarding his approach to filling positions. (Casablanca was named as the 2009 Ogletree Deakins/HR Dimensions HR Professional of the Year):

The candidate has been selected to come in for a face-to-face interview. Depending on the role, this is a one- to two-day process that includes a plant tour, customer business center tour, between two to six hours of interview time with both the hiring manager and the HR department lead, as well as several one-hour sessions with other members of the interview team (normally people who will interact with the person in this position).

During this phase, everyone has an assignment. The people conducting the tours are “soft selling” the company and helping us gauge how the candidate conducts himself or herself in a non-interview setting. You would be amazed at some of the feedback we get. The six-hour interview with the hiring manager and HR lead is conducted in a very structured way, although it is very conversational. We are looking for behavioral patterns, starting with high school and progressing through the candidate’s most recent roles.

This culminates in a detailed interview report (generally between four to eight pages long). The report is written by the hiring manager, who is expected to provide a summary of the candidate’s personal life and work history, and describes the candidate’s behavioral patterns – both strengths and weaknesses. They are also required to make a call on the candidate’s talent level, fit for the role and potential next roles. If we cannot see candidates moving to that next role, we will more often than not pass on hiring them.

How do we know this works? Our human resources team has developed metrics around our success rate of hiring “A” level talent. The HR team goes back to the hiring manager after six months and asks if the new hire is performing well, and if he or she is still considered an “A” talent. This is repeated at one year. Currently we get it right about 70% of the time.

For more on this topic, you can consult our ePub, The Interviewing Guide – 2nd Edition. Authored by attorneys from Ogletree Deakins, this online guide is now available for just $49. The book is also available in our Hiring & Firing/Leave Issues Package.