Basic Job Interview Dos and Don’ts

On 10/04/2011, in Finding a Job, Interviewing, by Jordan Wilson

Incredibly, many job candidates make basic mistakes when attending interviews.

Part of the problem may be that people do not go through the interview process often.

Regardless of whether you interview once every decade or once every week, there is no excuse for not putting your best foot forward.

Today, a little advice from Investopedia on the dos and don’ts of interviews. 

The Dos

Investopedia offers a list of the Top 15 Interview Tips for Students.

I consider all these tips simply common sense. That said, it is amazing how many candidates I have met for junior, intermediate, and even senior positions, where the interviewee lacks one or more of these basics.

So get it right if you want to have the best chance of landing the position.

Do not assume that you know how to dress the part, write an elevator pitch, practice common courtesy, maintain good posture, use professional language, etc. Your own views of these matters is irrelevant.

You are dressing, speaking, posturing, etc., for the person who is interviewing you. You may think the nose ring is perfectly acceptable in today’s world. The person across from you may or may not share this belief.

When in doubt, err on the conservative side. If possible, speak with someone who is in the industry and can advise on proper comportment.

Also, be wary of interview traps. I know of many instances where the interviewer uses techniques to trip up the candidate. These may include swearing, making sexual or racial comments, drinking liquor while on an interview lunch, etc. Always be on guard and never completely relax during the interview. You may just say or do something you regret later.

And practice, practice, practice. Get friends and family to ask you potential interview questions. Polish your responses so that they are concise and  best show your strengths while minimizing any weaknesses.

You only get one shot at a first interview. Do not let a lack of preparation cost you the job opportunity.

The Don’ts

Investopedia also provides their Top 12 Things Not To Put On Your Resume.

Again, mostly (hopefully) common sense, but some decent advice.

The big one for me is the inclusion of irrelevant information in the resume.

Do not create a generic resume that you submit to every job opening. Reading those resumes I can tell that you took a one size fits all approach. And I think that if you cannot take the time to create a specific resume for a specific position, how much attention to detail will you apply to the job?

You are better off creating a new resume and cover letter for each position that you apply.

Tailor that resume to only reflect relevant information about you and how you best meet the requested job requirements.

You can still include your interests if you want as that may create a bonding opportunity with the hirer. For example, if you both enjoy coin collecting or photography you might be seen in a friendlier light. I think an interest section is fine for junior positions, but should be eliminated as you move up the ladder. Then you want to devote resume content to skills and experience as opposed to hobbies and less important things.

The resume and cover letter should try to link the job requirements to your life. Someone reading 100 resumes does not want to guess or read between the lines as to whether you have a minimum of five years of investing experience or that you are fluent in Spanish.

If you have a requested skill or experience, clearly state that in the resume or cover letter. Even better is to mirror the language used in the job listing. This further ensures that a tired reader will not miss your key attributes.

Tailoring your resume and being clear in the content serves two purposes. One, it explicitly tells the reader that you do have the required skills. Second, it conveys another skill that is in high demand in most jobs. That is, the ability to clearly communicate in a memo or verbal discussion. If the interviewer sees that your resume is clear and gets to the point quickly, it may also indicate that your work communications will also be clear.

The final comment I will make is that the 12 don’ts is North American in nature. If you live elsewhere, be aware of cultural and legal variances.

For example, in certain countries that I have worked, applicants commonly include a personal photograph as well as disclose age, race, marital status, etc. Also, in some countries candidates may be asked personal questions that may be out of bounds in Canada or the U.S. Know your local customs and laws in order to make sure you are ready to deal with questions a Canadian may find uncomfortable.

Although common sense, a good list of 27 reminders when preparing for an interview. Keep them in mind and you will enhance your probability of landing the position.

Good luck!

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