Even though I’ve been in the business of helping job seekers — particularly those at the dawn of their careers — land their dream gigs for quite a while, I can’t help but be surprised by the frequency that two faux pas show up. In many ways, interviews should come naturally, but evidently, in our nervousness, we complicate the process unnecessarily, and in so doing, we hurt our chances to get hired.
Do Not Record What I’m Saying
So many people are shocked to learn that, unless instructed otherwise, it’s inappropriate to take notes during an interview. Think about it! Would you take notes on a date?
What are you writing down anyway? There is nothing that will come up in your interview that can’t be repeated later. Scrawling notes will also distract your attention and prevent you from the most important task at hand — building a relationship with the interviewer.
Your job is to put away the pen and paper and sell yourself to the person on the other side of the desk.
Interview Attire Is Not a Negotiation
In this area, there is little room for interpretation. An interview is a business meeting with people you generally know very little about.
When I tell my male clients a suit is an absolute must, they quickly try to negotiate. Would a sport jacket be sufficient, they want to know. Here’s the deal. Always, always go with a suit. The only time a sport jacket and tie works is if the interviewer specifically indicates to come casual.
Female clients are a bit trickier.
Here are two rules:
1. Less is more when it comes to makeup–not clothing: If you look in the mirror and think you’d be ready for a night out if you only applied a different lipstick, you are dressed wrong. Remember: you can’t dress like the people who will be interviewing you until you are offered membership to their club.
2.Tame your hair: I encourage all my female clients to go for a tame look, which often means pulling your hair back.
For the guys, this is not another opportunity for negotiation. Any facial hair is risky. A clean-shaven look is my recommendation, even if it makes you look younger (a common defense). It doesn’t matter; it should come off for the interview. Otherwise, you are giving the impression that you are a non-conformist, which is hardly a great selling point for most companies.
Do you have other questions I haven’t addressed here? If so, feel free to comment or send me an email.
Lesley is president and founder of Priority Candidates, which prepares college students and recent graduates nationwide to get hired for their first jobs. Previously, Lesley spent more than 25 years in executive search, working with candidates from entry level to C-Suite executives in organizations ranging in size from small, family owned businesses to large international organizations. Her fundamental knowledge of what hiring manager’s look for is the core of what Priority Candidates does to prepare college students/recent grads to get hired now. An alumnus of Duke University who is based in New York City, Lesley has been featured in USA Today, ABC’s New York Viewpoint with Ken Rosato, ABC News with Art McFarland, The New York Times, NY Nightly News with NBC4’s Chuck Scarborough, eCampus News and John Tucker’s Small Business Report on Bloomberg Radio. Lesley always welcomes connections via LinkedIn, on Twitter or by email or phone, available on her website.