Today’s job hunters have to navigate a few important things if they want to secure a job in the digital age. It’s much easier than ever to find opportunities online, but job hunters have to search through numerous job postings on multiple sites and customise their application to suit each job. We show you what you need in the digital age to be successful. Read more
Everyone dreams of having or finding a more exciting job. But those dreams tend to be quickly crushed by the realisation that all the really kickass jobs are the ones that require the kind of training or experience that is next to impossible for most of us to acquire without capturing a wish-granting elf. Read more
So, you’ve managed to land an interview. Well Done! It means you have the employer interested enough to want to spend some time with you. This is a big deal. Hiring managers won’t want to waste their time on rubbish candidates. That means you have to meet and exceed their expectations if you want to land that job. While you can make an educated guess as to what those expectations are, there are some basics which you need to cover as well.
That’s what I am going to talk about today.
While you may already know that you need to be on time, we are always astounded by how many people are late to an interview. We often book coaching packages for people who are consistently and thoroughly late. Not by 5 minutes, but by 20 minutes, sometimes longer. If you show up to a face-to-face interview this late, you will be pushing sh*t uphill for the rest of the appointment. This is such a simple interview mistake that you can easily avoid.
“but I can’t help if there’s traffic or the trains are late”
No you can’t.
But you can always apply Murphy’s Law to an important interview: anything that can go wrong will go wrong. What you can do is plan for things like this by giving yourself plenty of buffer time. I always schedule AT LEAST 30 minutes for delays and getting lost. Using this strategy, I have never been late to an interview. Ever.
It’s possible, but you have to plan ahead.
Remember, first impressions last.
Do you have a phone interview lined up? Be ready at your phone AT LEAST 5 – 10 minutes before the scheduled time. Make sure the place you’re in is quiet, and free from distractions. The last thing anyone wants to deal with is background noise from the person they’re on the phone with. It’s a common interview mistake we hear about very often. Having a distraction free spot also means that you will give better answers in your interview.
Being too casual
When walking into an interview, you might not have any clue as to the company culture but this shouldn’t be because you didn’t try and find out. If you genuinely have no idea about a company culture, the best thing to do is to be formal until it’s apparent something else is acceptable. This means greeting people as Mr or Miss/Ms, conducting yourself in a way that’s appropriate at a posh dinner (or something similar) and shaking hands formally (no fist-bumping or other shenanigans).
If you are invited to be more casual, then adjust your conduct to the level that your interviewer works. What does that mean? Well, it’s hard to describe, as it depends on context. Follow the lead of your interviewer and adjust incrementally. Remember: “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”.
If your interviewer doesn’t invite you to be a bit more casual, or you’re just not sure, then stick to being formal.
If you are too casual, then you risk as being seen as unprofessional or uninterested in the role. To state the obvious: this is bad. Your chances of getting hired will be much reduced if you come across as too casual.
Language that’s, like, totes unprofesh
This ties in with being too casual. If your language is unprofessional, you’re not doing yourself a favour. Using words such as ‘Like’, ‘Totally’ or ‘Literally’ will be a strike against your name. This is a common interview mistake for young people to make – often because when you’re under pressure, you resort to what feels most comfortable.
When interviewing for someone to fill my job as marketing intern, Uli had the pleasure of hearing a candidate say ‘like’ close to 80 times. He showed me the piece of paper with the tally on it. Needless to say this person was, like, unsuccessful. For an interesting article on what these filler words mean, check out this article.
With this being said, you don’t need to use extremely formal or strict language. What I am saying here is that you shouldn’t overcompensate.
What’s a filler phrase? It’s a more sophisticated way of saying ‘um’. This is a less common interview mistake, but I want you to stop using this tactic before you start. You might think you’re being super smooth using these, but you’re not, and your interviewer can see right through these. What’s an example of a filler phrase?
“Well that’s a good question, and I’m glad you asked”
I admit I am guilty of this interview mistake. In my own defence, I had a complicated answer lined up so I thought I would increase the anticipation while I quickly got my thoughts together. But it’s best that you avoid it in the first place.
I know – you have heard this one a million times. I’m going to address this interview mistake just to make sure that we cover everything. DON’T USE YOUR PHONE IN AN INTERVIEW!
The only exception to this rule is if you are expecting an important call or are on standby for a damn good reason. Some good reasons include: a sick family member who you may be waiting on news from, a pregnant partner or anything else that is a big deal in your personal life. It’s really important to let your interview know at the start that you are ‘on call’ for this very (very) good reason. Say something like “I just need to make you aware I have a family member in hospital, so if I get a call from my sister/brother/parent then I will have to quickly take the call. I hope this won’t be an inconvenience”. Most employers should be ok with this.
This does not include waiting to hear from another interview, a call from your current boss or a call from your mates.
As always, remember to Keep It Simple Sunshine
Have you heard any horror stories of people making these sorts of mistakes? Do you think there should be more included here?
This blog post is the second in a new series authored by The Job Search Coach marketing intern Jasha Andrews. Jasha has been invited as a Guest blogger to TJSC to help uni students hunt smarter for a position. If you are a regular reader, this could be the refresher that you need on basic job hunting.
Congratulations, you’re ready to jump into the world of job hunting. If you’ve followed my previous post carefully, you should have a concise resume and cover letter ready to go.
I am sure you have heard this adage before: “It’s not what you know, but who you know”. I think it’s old fashioned. This phrase may be spot on for business, but if you are in job hunting mode what you should really be thinking is: It’s not who you know, it’s who wants to know you. Read more
We all know the feeling when we struggle to go to work.
You know that moment when the alarm goes off and you think, “Bugger, not again!” Personally, I usually can’t get started until I’ve had my 1st double shot coffee near the office. But, what if the dreaded feeling is about more than that? What if that negative feeling about your job follows you everywhere you go and invades your dreams? Does that mean it’s time to change jobs? Are you in trouble? Read more
Questions about the cover letter. Books, magazines, products, movies and even people are judged by ‘how they present themselves’ at first sight. The experience of first impressions essentially all boils down to “Do You Matter?” That’s why books and magazines rely on covers, products rely on packaging, movies rely on banners and posters, and people or (job hunters) on cover letters.
Call it old fashioned or not, there are still tonnes of people who still need the cover letter to assess if you matter or whether you are wasting their time or not. I know this is a harsh introduction, but would you have read on if my headline was all nice and easy?
Our team at TJSC have helped over 700 job hunters this year to get job interviews and secure a new job and there was not a single successful submission without a cover letter. Nearly every job ad we see either requests a resume AND cover letter or leaves space in the online submission portion to include one.
We know that you are no more interested in writing the cover letter than employers are about reading it. So why do employers ask for a cover letter if they’re likely not going to look at it?
Here is what tends to happen behind the scenes:
Reason #1 Automated Processes
The request for cover letters in job ads is rarely a specific decision made for each individual job ad. For the most part, Hiring Managers / HR departments and recruiters don’t write the request or requirement for a cover letter manually into ads. Most job sites are designed to make writing job ads as easy and fast as possible. This is simply translated as automation.
Most of the text you see in a job ad is templated, via pre-set text blocks and defaults. The focus in job ads is on key requirements and responsibilities. But, there is also one of these template defaults in the automated process known as the request for cover letters.
Who are these people who determine if these default checkboxes are checked… or not?
I can give you two of the most common causes and they are all made outside of HR departments. It is mainly IT staffers (or consultants) that coordinate the integration of job sites with the company’s HR software. Yes, I’m not kidding. This decision is often made by 3rd parties (recruiters included) who are not even employees of the hiring company because they like to play safe – “just in case HR wants it…” So, as you can see this isn’t some useless conspiracy against you. Whether you like it or not, you don’t have a choice if that box is ticked. Make sure your cover letter matters or you will end up in the trash.
Reason #2 The Need for Differentiators
The other common explanation of why employers ask for cover letters but often don’t even use them is the need for differentiation. Hiring Managers or recruiters want a point of differentiation which highlights ‘why you matter’. They obtain a glimpse into your book via your resume and they wish to verify or judge you by your cover. Get it?
So why do they need a differentiator?
The world of HR and job searching is constantly evolving and changing (e.g. laws, technology, job markets) but there’s one thing which is continually changing faster than anything else: the explosion of applicants. The main reason for that is the copy – paste –shotgun approach to applications. When the numbers of incoming applications explode, things change and it is this change that forces the requirement for a differentiator. The cover letter is your 1st differentiator.
HR professionals have to protect their most valuable asset when searching for a suitable candidate – their time. 10 seconds is all you get. Pass that short window of 10 seconds and they look at your ‘book cover’ to ensure they don’t waste their time further. They also don’t like to get egg on their face when they proceed to call you in for an interview and so they judge you by your cover letter and use the information to check you out further.
Hiring professionals are a bit like shoppers in a book shop as they’ll seek differentiators when viewing book covers and titles. It’s the same with your application. Your cover letter is your book cover. It’s your 1st marketing piece.
You can tell anyone anything, but you have to provide an example to demonstrate why they should believe your claims. So if you write a cover letter…
Demonstrate What Every Employer Wants to Know
Most employers care about the following three things above all else:
- You’re smart.
- You’ll get things done.
- You’ll fit in well with their key requirements and corporate culture.
Before you sign and send your cover letter, do your best to ensure those three things are evident. Again, you don’t ever want to actually say them, but you want your reader to think them when they’ve finished reading your letter.
You can do the usual copy – paste – shotgun approach or you can submit what’s expected of you. You get judged by your cover whether you like it or not, so don’t waste the opportunity and remember to hunt wisely!
The end of the year is fast approaching – a time to start from scratch or just to try and be a little more effective with your jobsearch in 2015. Read more
Job searching is tough work. No one wants the added hassle of having to weed out the fake online job ads from legitimate and genuine job opportunities. I have three simple steps that help you to spot the ‘snoopers’ and ‘scammers’. Read more