Friday, November 27, 2009

Tips for job interviews during the Economic crisis.

Even though being self employed and running your own business is usually best regarding you managing your own schedules and you creating and being responsible for you own income source, the fact is that most people work more tradition jobs.
When there’s +20% unemployment things change a lot regarding job hunting and interviews.

I remember when traveling to Spain a few years ago when things were very different, the thing at that time in Spain and other EU countries was to actually mess up the job interviews so you could continue on the “paro”, the welfare program that paid you 80% of your last job while unemployed.
Things were the exact opposite here and I thought how crazy it all was, how most people here would do anything for a job while over there jobs were something you just found quickly if you wanted to.

When there’s a line of 20 or 30 people for even the lowest paying gigs, and hundreds for anything better, you need to be at the top of your game:

1) Looks. Yes, its supposedly ok to be yourself but you know what, “supposedly” wont find a job any time soon during a recession. Look you best. You can complain about discrimination all you want, but being covered in tattoos, specially that daemon eating a unicorn in your forehead, yes, I’m sure they’ll find a good explanation as of why other candidates make more sense than you.
Urban tribe hairstyle or clothes, lots of piercings, none of that is going to do you any favors when looking for a job.
Clean cut, formal or casual clothes depending on the work you are applying for, that creates the right image.

2)Handshake and speech. A firm handshake, but not bone crushing, you want to show confidence, not how physically strong you are. Leveled voice, but confident. The way you stand, sit and carry yourself in general, try looking confident an capable. All this you probably heard a thousand times already, but it is harder to do when you’ve been unemployed for a while and your actually are nervous and worried about finding a job soon to put food on the table.

3)Information. Know the names of the people you’re supposed to see for the interview, do a bit of research about the firm, be informed about the products offered or whatever it is they do, what you find interesting about it and share that with the person that is interviewing you. How you would fit in the company and what you have to offer.

4) Attitude. During a job interview I had once for an architecture firm, they asked me if I knew how to handle a certain software program which they were starting to use with good results. I wasn’t familiar with the software but I replied “No, I’ve never used that one before but I’m sure I can learn it pretty quick, most of them have similar functions and logic about them, I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it in no time”.

I got that job and when they told me I was hired, they said they specially liked that part. It’s important for the people that are hiring you to know you wont be a problem but rather a problem solver. Not only regarding a computer program but in general terms, they see in you someone that fixes things, learns when needed and simply gets things sorted out and done.

5)Go through your notes and files. For technical jobs it would be a good idea to review some of the information you’re supposed to be acquainted with. You can’t remember everything and even if the job interviewing process doesn’t specifically require tests (like some do) its still a good idea to refresh those concepts so you have better tools for the interview.

6) Salary. Ask 20% more than what you consider an appropriate salary. Don’t think about this much, don’t do the same stupid mistake I made several times myself. Simply always ask for 20% more.
If the employer likes you but for some reason can’t reach that number, he’ll come up with a counteroffer, so don’t worry. You’re not going to miss the opportunity because of that 20% extra you asked for.

If you settle with 10% more as a half way through, you have 10% more and the employer considers he got a bit of a bargain himself. If you ask for a salary that is too low, that’s much worse than asking for more. It reflects a lack of confidence or worse, it clearly says you are not worth more than that.

7) Follow up. Some people don’t advice this but I’ve called a few days later on occasions to check if there’s any news, how’s the selection process is going and show my interest.
On occasions you get the “don’t call us, we’ll call you” on the same interview, and in that’s the case it’s all pretty clear but on other occasions you have a good interview and yet don’t receive any news a few days later. In that case, I’d call to see how things are going.
Just one call guys, one call shows you sure are interested. If after that call they still don’t contact you, that’s it, but sometimes calling is a good idea.



Kamil said...

It might also be a good idea to send a follow-up "Thank you" note after the interview. Most people don't do it and it will make you stand out from the crowd.

For that reason, make sure you note the names of all the people you meet during your interview.

fat old white guy said...

that's a nice touch sending a 'thank you.' offhand, i would think that a letter offering business services on an hourly or contract basis would be more useful. things have changed these days.

when i was younger, i don't know how much disbelief and dismay i ran into when prospective employers found out i had my own health insurance and wanted to keep it that way...

unfortunately the tax laws were unfavorable and punitive at the time, an no employer could/would do anything about the state employment laws and federal tax laws.

i think all but one of those companies went under or had to sell out. there was one old guy impressed by my not being a 'droid that he wanted to hire me to do his books and i presume some marketing, although i had no book keeping experience. i had to decline when i found out both of his office girls were on parole.

lately with companies turning to employment agencies for temps. so now companies are willing and able to hire on a contract term basis. so it's entirely possible to market yourself that way. a job interview might even be a sneaky way to get in the company door and scope out the action....

probably, the best skills would be the ability to be punctual and reliable.

CapnRick said...

Say, Fer... tatoo of a daemon eating a unicorn in your forehead? Coooool!

A suggestion: as a consultant for a lot of years, I have seen the value of offering services for pay. I have also seen that people who have an interest in a particular industry sometimes are successful with asking for consideration for part time work, or volunteering to be an unpaid intern for a 90-day period to see if the company/industry and you are a good fit... not a good idea for everyone, but, successfull in my daughter's case. It is not always necessary to be young and fresh out of school to get corporate interest in your intern suggestion.

Anonymous said...

I've was involved in the hiring process in corporate USA. Basically, people look for reasons not to hire a person (they might not say that). So look at yourself and try to eliminate anything that is an obstacle to getting hired. Over weight - unemployment is the time to get slim.