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3 Tips for New Grads Navigating the Murky Sea of Interview Rules

3 business people

By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

For college students or recent grads applying for internships, the sea of interview rules often appears murky. However, whether meeting with a recruiter, hiring manager or human resources professional, and whether meeting face to face, by Skype or phone, there are three things you clearly must NOT do.

1. Wear jeans and a wrinkled shirt. While it may sound absurd, the fact is, many candidates do arrive to the interview dressed inappropriately. It may be an infraction as minor as unkempt shoes or a more serious error such as showing up in ripped jeans and tattered t-shirt.

If a recruiter has beckoned you, you may feel more relaxed than you would if it were the hiring decision maker. You may falsely sense that you and he are on the same level, and that he doesn’t command the same respect as a hiring decision maker. As such, you dress casually, as if you were running an errand to the grocery store for bread and milk. You unknowingly treat this interview as a casual conversation leading to the “real interview.”

Wrong. Recruiters are hired by the corporate decision makers and are granted many hiring and interviewing powers. This means if prompted, they will easily wield the hatchet on your candidacy. If you present yourself sloppily and disrespectfully, then they quickly lose interest in you and will not pass your name along.  As such, present your best self whether you are interviewing with a recruiter, HR representative or directly with the hiring decision maker.

Moreover, dress properly, whether interviewing face to face, via Skype or phone. Ensure your hair, nails, shoes and everything in between are coiffed. This includes dressing one notch up from the company’s standard dress code. Even if the corporate culture is highly casual, you should not don jeans and tennis shoes. Instead, press your shirt, your pants and/or skirt and ensure you are wearing shoes that are shiny and clean. While tattoos may be the office norm, the interview isn’t the time to showcase your fresh ink. Facial hair and makeup, haircuts and hairstyles should be conservative, and instead, your words and presentation should take center stage, exhibiting your differentiating value.

To continue reading this post, please click, 3 Things Not to Do When Interviewing for an Internship.

What to Do When an Employer Slings an Oddball Interview Question

By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

Your hair and clothes are pristine. You conduct a final run-through of common interview questions. Calm descends upon you. You are confident and cool as you enter the job interview.

That is, until your prospective boss slings a question like those listed on Glassdoor’s annual Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions list. For example:

1. “If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?” -Yahoo, Search Quality Analyst interview.

First, take a deep breath and remember the interviewer isn’t trying to trick you. Instead, they are trying to learn how you think on your feet, how you problem solve or how you work on a team or individually. Through creative or challenging questions, the interviewer wants to find out if you will be a valuable addition to the company and a good cultural fit.

So, back to the question: Remember, it is okay to request clarity before proceeding. You want to demonstrate your ability to ask smart questions and find out all the information you need to inform your answer. For example, clarify if the island is a desert island or is equipped with contemporary amenities, such as access to Internet.

If the latter, you might say you would bring a wifi-enabled laptop with wind generator to charge the batteries, a sharp knife and a lighter! The point is, you have technology to keep up with regular civilization, including workday obligations (laptop); a vital tool in day-to-day operations (knife); and a tool to start fires and create light (lighter), ensuring a more amenable living and working environment. These answers show you can prioritize effectively.

For advice on answering three additional oddball interview questions, follow this link to the full post over at Glassdoor: Four Tips for Answering Oddball Interviewing Questions.

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5 Items to Help Trumpet Your Value In an Interview

By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

It may seem obvious. You were invited to an interview with the hiring manager or recruiter. They beckoned you because they like your resume and believe you are qualified for the job. At this point, it’s all about the dialogue, and you are a fantastic interviewer, so what else do you need but yourself and your confidence – right?

Wrong. Sometimes less is not more. And, interviews offer an opportunity to strategically slide in a value-add here and there, depending upon the course the conversation takes.

Following are five ideas of value-add items to bring to the interview to help enhance your personal marketing message, compelling your interview forward:

1. Tweaked Resume: Even if you recently updated your resume, assess if a tweaked headline or modified achievement would more perfectly align your message with this specific interview.

Then, print off five to 10 copies of your resume from a quality printer using good, 24 lb. paper. Use a neutral, earthy tone: off-white, tan, light brown, gray or something similar. Show attention to detail, ensuring the watermark prints in an upright position. With a stack of freshly printed resumes in hand, you are equipped to distribute them to additional hiring decision makers who may unexpectedly arrive, empty-handed, at your meeting.

2. Toot-Your-Own-Horn Book: If you are in sales, this is an especially valuable tool. However, brag books needn’t be limited to sales-oriented interviews. Consider what visual representations of your value you could provide. Buy about a dozen 3-hole-punched sheet protectors in which to display your horn-tooting items. Examples include a thank-you note, a printout of a sales graph, an email from a happy client and a project milestone chart showcasing results of a mammoth project. What this book may consist of is only limited by your imagination and creativity. Think colorful and glimpse-able.

3. Testimonials Page. While you may not be ready to hand off contact information of your valuable references during the initial interview, you could create a ‘testimonials’ page with a list of three to five key people (names only, without phone numbers and email addresses), who are wowed by the value you provide.

Diversify the references to include a client, a vendor, a senior executive, a colleague, a direct report and so forth. Then, organize the page to include three columns: 1. Name of person and their company affiliation; 2. Your relationship to that person; e.g., you and s/he collaborated on a specific project; you provided sales consultation to that person; or, you trained them in their new role, for example; and, 3. What they have said in the past about you or would say if approached today about your contribution to individual or team goals in relationship to saving time, trimming costs or adding to profits.

To find out what are the final two value-add items, please visit: 5 Standout Things To Bring To Your Next Interview.

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