It seems most people, especially in the current economy, are familiar with job hunts and the job interview process, but what is it like for employers? What qualities are they looking for when hiring and interviewing? And what are those little things that peg you as desirable or undesirable right off the bat?
Even unintentional mannerisms send a message. Remember to look someone in the eye when you’re speaking to him or her. It’s the oldest rule in the book, yet when nerves get the best of you it is the first thing potential candidates can forget. If one’s eyes are darting around the room the impression they give off is one of having no interest.
Arms crossed and tucked into oneself give an unfriendly message during your job interview. Being nervous is allowed, but try not to show it. If you’re interviewing for a position crossing your arms makes you seem un-open to the conversation at hand. Think about it from an employer’s perspective. If you seem cool, perhaps even a little unfriendly then how will you act when dealing with new people or clients on behalf of the company?
Get to know the company. According to Jeanne Campbell, Project & Planning Manager at Mindspot, an employer must consider a number of factors when interviewing a potential employee. Make sure you do your research prior to a job interview. Understanding the organization and how you would fit with the team can be just as important as your past experience.
Ah the timeless argument: the cover letter or the resume. Does a cover letter really matter? Shouldn’t the resume speak for itself? Consider this, a resume is a piece of paper formatted nicely which lists one’s experience, education, and achievements. Rarely does it showcase one’s personality, outside of Graphic Designers. The reason I’m omitting graphic designers is that their field is quite specific and their resume is meant to showcase their talent.
So what can a (well-written) cover letter do for you? It allows you to stand out from all the others in the resume pile. Sally and Jan’s resumes are completely identical, down to the year they graduated, honor society, and a PR position held. Thing is, Sally sent in a cover letter and Jan didn’t. In that cover letter, the employer got a great feel for Sally as a person, her work ethic and her writing ability. Now, who is more likely to be called in for an interview?
Don’t get me wrong, not every job requires a cover letter. According to my father, who has been in the restaurant business for over 20 years, a cover letter isn’t always important, but again, it can depend on the industry in which you wish to work. Even Jeanne says there have been instances where the skills on a resume have been enough for her to make that call and ask the potential employee to come in, even without a cover letter. But why lessen your chances?
Nitpick the resume or not? We all know how it feels to spend hours trying to make sure every single little detail on our resume perfect. When it comes to a resume grammatical errors are potential employment suicide, so always avoid those. But as far as everything else, does the color and formatting really matter? I believe it is a matter of preference. My father says it doesn’t matter to him. Jeanne says, “The appearance of a resume depends greatly on the type of position a candidate is applying for.” For example, a resume that pays attention to detail says a lot for someone applying to work in the marketing research industry. An old employer once told me she preferred white because of the clean feel, while her co-worker shook her head vigorously and said she preferred the creamy colors. But all seemed to agree, the type of industry you enter determines what is expected. This can be hard to judge at times, so take a cue from the company’s website. Do they seem business-casual and colorful or more detail-oriented? Maybe you could get away with a colorful resume with the first description but maybe not the latter.
Many of these tidbits are constantly drilled into our heads and yet most people tend to forget them the moment they enter the interview. My advice: hold your head high, look em’ in the eye, and ya know—knock em’ dead!