When applying for a job, the ability to break the process down into manageable, short-term goals can help you relax during a stressful time.
Try to attack the job search with attainable goals in mind:
- Step one: Start your job search by narrowing a list of 50 postings from an employment Web site to two or three that properly match your experience and skill-set.
- Step two: The goal of including a cover letter with the application is to attract the employer to your resume.
- Step three: The goal of the employer glancing at your resume is to eventually receive a phone call inquiring about an in-person interview.
- Step four: The goal of an interview is, at a basic level, an offer from the employer.
In a competitive job market, receiving a job offer is an exclusive luxury.
The final step listed above - the interview - provides the best opportunity to make a lasting impression with the potential employer. It's the most nerve-racking part of the job search, yet also the most rewarding. You don't want to mess up the interview.
For the purpose of this blog entry, we collected a list of interviewing don'ts so students in online degree programs can put themselves in the best possible position to secure a job. Look over (and try to replicate the exact opposite of) these 10 simple ways to blow a job interview before meeting with a potential employer:
1. Show up late
Think of your punctuality to the interview as a forecast for the hiring manager. This is the first chance for the interviewer to take notes. The interviewer wants to be sure you arrive to work on time if you're selected for the position. This is a simple way to make a great (or forgetful) first impression.
2. Forget to bring your resume
Yes, the hiring manager likely has your resume already. That doesn't mean you still shouldn't bring extra copies. There's a decent chance someone else representing the company will sit in on the interview as well. Think of it this way: you want one resume for every person in the room, including yourself. Hand them out accordingly as you sit down for the interview.
3. Having your cell phone sound
I love my iPhone as much as the next person, but it would be incredibly counter-productive for the interviewer to hear Facebook notification sounds buzzing from your pocket. Even if you're waiting for five minutes, keep the Angry Birds application disabled until you're home from the interview. Easy solution: silence your phone or turn it off before the interview begins.
4. Allow a week to pass before writing a follow-up note
Don't let 24 hours pass before writing a thank-you note. Be short, sweet and to the point. Lastly, don't think email thank-you notes are too informal. Welcome to 2012.
5. You're not cognizant of dental hygiene
You will likely be interviewing 5-10 feet from your potential employer. You get the idea. Brush your teeth before you leave for the interview. Bonus points to those who brush their teeth and use mouth wash before they leave. As for gum, yes, it makes for better breath, but under no circumstance should you enter the interview room chewing the latest fruity flavor of Trident. Trash it before you enter the building.
6. Don't research the company
Major no-no. I've been asked on a few interviews, word-for-word: "So what do you know about us?" You'll want to be prepared.
If the question is not asked, think of ways to incorporate your research of the company into your responses. It will show the employer that you've done your homework.
7. Put down your former employer
Even if you despised your last job, think to yourself: What will I gain by bad-mouthing my former employer? Answer: Nothing.
Plus, it's not desirable business practice to talk behind a company's back. It also gives off a whiny vibe. Other than that, I highly suggest the practice.
8. Dress in unprofessional attire
OK, so part of this tip is obvious. Don't show up in jeans and a hoodie. But it goes beyond that. If you can, make a trip to the drycleaners for your shirt and pants. At the very least, make sure no wrinkles are visible with your attire.
9. You come across as a know-it-all
There's a difference between confidence and pompousness. No one wants to hire a know-it-all who lacks an open mind. Be confident in your areas of expertise, and also open to new ideas and approaches.
10. You don't ask any questions
At the end of many interviews, the hiring manager will ask if you have any questions. Prepare three to four questions ahead of time so you're ready. You don't want to end the interview with the sound of ... crickets.
Looking for additional tips to help turn job interviews into job offers? Learn more about successful interview techniques by clicking the image below and checking out our brand new military-to-civilian transition eBook, "How to Ace the Interview ... and Stand Out from the Crowd."