One of my best friends in High School was King Davis and his mom Shirley used to always tell us to “Act like ya been somewhere”. We never really understood what the she meant and it wouldn’t have made a difference, I mean, after all we were teenagers and we knew “EVERYTHING”. Well with age comes wisdom and, now that I’m old and busted, Shirley’s words ring truer than ever “Act like ya been somewhere”. If you’re a candidate, remember to interview like ya been somewhere. If you’re a recruiter, prep your candidates and help them to understand some of the “Do’s and Don’ts because I can tell you from experience, there are candidates out there that think they know “EVERYTHING” too.

I have received a number of articles from recruiters that I respect in this industry and came up with a bunch of Don’ts. I’m gonna list out a number of don’ts and provide some great interview prep points at the end of this article.

Here are the Don’ts or, more to the point. Behavior or overall “showing your ass” to a prospective hiring manager to let them know that ya haven’t been somewhere”

Winging it – Don’t show up unprepared. Research the company’s services, history, news and most importantly, the position that you are interviewing for.

Apathy – If you are interviewing for a position, show some excitement and energy. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of too many positions that do not require someone to be interested or excited in the position, maybe with the exception of developing explosives.

Getting Paid – The end result of getting that new job is “Getting’ Paid” but resist the urge to get into conversations about money until you are in the offer stage. Look at all of the other intangibles first, determine your interest as well as the employers interest then you can discuss greenbacks.

Don’t be a Jackass – Don’t be rude, a “know it all”, loud-mouth, curse or be a prima donna during the interview process unless you are auditioning to be an ***hole for a new reality show or sitcom.

Take a shower/bath….just not in perfume or cologne – It is important, especially in our culture, that you not smell like you just worked out at the gym or the second part of the aforementioned topic. It is JUST as important to refrain from using too much perfume or cologne. There is nothing worse than a hiring manager having their hand smell like your perfume or cologne for the remainder of the day after you leave.

Refrain from talking trash – I personally like to work with a good trash talker but I’m referring to the candidate that trash talks their former employer. Most of you know this, but it still happens on a regular basis.

“What are the Hours?” – Really? Unless you are in High School and have football practice or a curfew, refrain from asking this question until later in the interview process. Oh…I get why you would ask, but it raises a commitment and work ethic red flag. The same applies to the following “How much time to I get off?”, “How Many Sick Days?”, etc

Do you require a background check or Drug Screening? – While I am somewhat of a Libertarian and believe in personal freedoms, the first thing that a prospective employer might thinks is “Why, do YOU have something to worry about?” If you don’t have anything to worry about, DON’T bring it up.

Now that we have covered the DON’Ts, I have provided an Interview Prep Checklist. This is Interview Prep information that I have used over the course of 17 years in the business:

INTERVIEW PREPARATION

THE OBJECTIVE IS TO GET AN OFFER: Why?

  • In the process, you learn everything necessary to make an intelligent decision
  • You cannot reject or accept an offer you do not have
  • Firm handshake given always standing

Non-verbal communication: Body language, eye contact, proper seating

Neatly and thoroughly fill out the application, write “open” under salary, and make sure the information is verifiable

From the beginning, anything you do is part of the interview.

Be aware of the information part (interaction w/receptionist or HR)

To break the ice, take note of personal effects around the office like pictures or trophies, compliment or relate to yourself

The interview is an equal exchange of information. On both sides, make sure you don’t do all the talking or vice-versa

Every interview is a brand new interview and must be conducted independently of the others. Expect to repeat yourself.

Offensive vs. Defensive Interviewing: Volunteer information, don’t just answer questions. Be sure to project your strengths, personal attributes, goals, etc. and apply to each interview. Be sure to have all the information needed for a successful interview.

Answer questions fully, more than just “yes” or “no” answers. This illustrates logical thought, intelligent and organization.

Acknowledge: “Yes, I have…” or “No, but…”. Make sure you understand what is being asked and think about the answer.

Back up with facts: Take the offensive, the more detail you give, the less likely that you will be quizzed, and the more prepared you will sound.

State your area of responsibility, name of the project, steps taken to make it happen, tools used and a brief description of the project. The client is more interested in your part involved with the project, not the team.

Sell yourself: Have an offensive vs. defensive interview. Put yourself in the interviewer’s position. What would you like to hear?

If you haven’t done something, or don’t have the experience, be sure to answer truthfully, but back up with a positive and proactive statement: “I’m not familiar with that, although…”. Relate relevant experience and depth of knowledge. Make the client understand that you have a technical basis. Show willingness and ability to learn something new.

If asked for a salary figure, do not state an exact amount you feel is appropriate for the job. Let the recruiter handle that for you. You may answer that you are currently making $ amount and that you know they will make you a fair offer.

Rehearse your answers to potential questions: strengths, weaknesses, goals, why you are looking, why you want this opportunity.

If asked a negative question, always respond with what you would have preferred or liked (not disliked).

Asking questions: When an applicant asks good questions, it shows they could be a good analyst, have good presentation skills, and are concerned with their role within the opportunity. Ask questions requiring more than just a “yes” or “no”. Get as much detail as possible. Prepare your questions before you interview:

  • “If I perform, what could the opportunity be for me long term?”
  • “How can I be most beneficial with my background?”
  • “How would I fit into your organization?”
  • “Could you describe a typical work week for me?”

Only ask questions relating to the opportunity. Let the account manager cover the details about compensation and benefits. Ask questions with “you” being involved, and ask positive questions.

Extend the interview. Express your interest in learning more about the company and it’s employees.

Be direct. Ask what the next step is, and when you expect to hear something.

COVERING CONCERNS

When the interview winds down, ask if the interviewer feels comfortable with your background and address any obvious concerns.

If you are interested and the interviewer has concerns, ask “I understand you might be looking for someone with more ___ experience. Do you think I can be successful here without that experience, or will I have time to learn it?”

If there are no obvious problems, you should state your interest in the opportunity, and let them know you would like to address their concerns, if they have any.

SETUP THE NEXT STEP

Follow up with the prospective employer as soon as possible after the interview is completed. You might want to write a thank you note to the interviewer, thanking them for their time and expressing a sincere interest in receiving an offer.

Always ask for a business card from anyone you meet to have their contact info for follow up and to personalize a Thank You letter or email.

I hope this article will help you get that new job so you can “Act Like Ya Been Somewhere”.

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