I just finished a week of interviewing candidates for an opening in my office. How exhausting!
The whole week was a great reminder of the do’s and don’ts of interviewing, as well as how the interview process showcases — and even impacts — your brand.
Everything, and I mean everything, you do when applying for a job is important. Everything from your resume to routine correspondence to the interview itself are scrutinized. Being the interviewer (for real, not just in my usual “mock” capacity) made me realize that so many things we believe should be “common sense” really are not. And while I could tell that these candidates had a brand, how they intended it to come across and how I perceived them were, I believe, very different.
Keep a positive impression of your brand in tact by taking a few cues from my week:
I am not your friend.
I tend to be a more laid-back, casual professional. However, I am always more formal in any application/interview-related correspondence. Formal is the name of the game here. While you want to be yourself in all communications, this doesn’t mean you should relax as you might with friends. I expect a salutation on an email. I expect well-written messages. I expect professional language when speaking over the phone. While the upcoming interview might be “awesome,” there’s probably a different word to use to convey that sentiment.
I don’t care about your other obligations.
During the interview process, I’m thinking of my organization’s needs. It’s not that you aren’t important, but your needs are not the focus during this process. Work your schedule so that you have no conflicts that day. While you might be tempted to check your email, please don’t. Any downtime that you have when you’re physically around your interviewer is time to make small talk. If you pull out your phone to check-in on messages, the interviewer realizes that he/she isn’t very important. Clearly, the candidate has better things to do, and they can do those elsewhere.
I am trying not to make assumptions about you.
Therefore, as an interviewer, I would appreciate not having assumptions made about me. I believe it was implied by one of our candidates that I have children. Not that I have anything against children, but the statement didn’t make me very happy. I try as best as I can to base my judgements on a candidate’s resume, LinkedIn profile, and interview discussion. I don’t want to try so hard if the candidate doesn’t show the same respect to me.
If you couldn’t tell by the points above, it was a rough week. But it wasn’t all bad. We did have a couple of strong candidates and I enjoyed each day as a whole. However, I was blown away by what some of these seasoned professionals did during this process. As a current student, be better than these folks. I have faith that you can be!
Laura serves as Internship Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the office of Career & Leadership Development. In this role, Laura advises students who are pursuing internships, assists employers with intern recruitment, and supports university faculty who oversee academic internships. She also provides students with job search readiness assistance through presentations, individual counseling, and social media. Laura earned her bachelors degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she majored in French and Political Science, and she received her masters degree in Counseling from UW-Whitewater. To learn more about Laura, read her blog, follow her on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn.