“Thank you for wearing a tie.”
I can’t even remember who said it, but somewhere along the line of my seemingly endless trail of job interviews a prospective boss stopped me in my tracks when she made this comment as I was departing from our session.
Thank you for wearing a tie? What kind of rube doesn’t wear a tie to a job interview? Was I from some lost generation that still believes you shine your shoes and put on a clean shirt and tie before you go on a job interview?
When did the dress code become hoodies with flip flops optional when you’re out looking for work, especially in an office environment?
This all got me thinking, if candidates aren’t going to the trouble of wearing a tie to their interviews, what else might be missing from their job hunt? I’ve got teenagers of my own who will be out looking for jobs soon, so I decided maybe it was time to start making a list of things to do while looking for work to get them off on the right foot.
1) Wear a tie. Not just a tie, clean up your entire act. Yes, this means shower, shave and wear a clean outfit to your interview complete with matching socks and a tie.
2) Zip your fly. Be sure to keep your social media accounts clean. I don’t know how many times I’ve read it and said it, LinkedIn will get you hired and Facebook will keep you from it. You can probably throw Twitter, Instagram and YouTube in there as well.
A word to the wise, you can pretty much bet that prospective hiring bosses will be looking at your spit-shined LinkedIn profile to see if you are who your resume says you are. But you can also bet they will be looking at Facebook, so all those bachelor party pix from Cancun last summer need to go ASAP.
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by thinking you’re dealing with social media luddites. Chances are they’ve got somebody in HR who can Google your name and search Facebook for your profile. Now double check your fly.
3) The early bird gets the worm, he doesn’t swallow it. Boss rule No. 1: On time is late. Bosses like people who show up 10-15 minutes early, so do the math and figure out how to get to the interview site on time. It might mean you have to sit for just a little bit and wait, but in the grand scheme, it’s better that you have to wait than the person conducting the interview.
4) Be a Boy Scout. Be prepared. Do your homework. Know something about the company and the job. Just like the company will use LinkedIn and Facebook to find out about you, turn the tables and look into the company and specifically the people who you will be interviewing with.
Don’t be afraid to Google the company to find out what the latest news is. Be sure to check out their Twitter account. You might just find a recent tweet from the company you can use to impress the interviewer that others might not have picked up on.
5) An eye for an eye. Look the interviewer in the eye when you’re answering questions. People like someone who looks them in the eye. Maybe it’s Old School, but interviewers want eye contact. Generally people who look you directly in the eye while answering tough questions are straight shooters.
6) Killing me softly. Don’t mumble. Speak clearly, firmly and be honest. Be confident and watch for visual cues from your listener.
7) Be ignorant, but not stupid. If you don’t know the answer to a question, admit you don’t know it. Perhaps the interviewer can give you some insight or rephrase the question. If you don’t know something just say that you don’t know, but be sure to offer up that you are a quick study and are willing to find out as much about the topic as possible if you are hired.
8) You snooze, you lose. Be excited about the job. Chances are the people doing the interview have been waiting a long time to make a hire, so they are excited to be chatting with you. You’re not doing them a favor, they are doing you a favor by interviewing you, so be polite and respectful.
9) Used cars. You know you better than anyone else, so don’t oversell yourself like some late-night TV ad pitch man. We all want to make a great impression. But let’s say you oversell yourself on one or more of the key skills required for the job and then get the position. This could end really badly if you’re hired and then fired once they figure out that you can’t deliver on your promises.
Be yourself. It’s the topic you know the most about. You might not be right for the job you’re interviewing for, but if you’re honest with the interviewer maybe they’ll keep you in mind for something down the road.
10) Wings are for chickens, not job hunters. Whatever you do, don’t wing it. Human resources people can smell fear and B.S. a mile away.
Maybe I’m Old School when it comes to looking for a job, but I think serious career-seekers strive to put their best foot forward. So at the risk of sounding like somebody’s father, when you’re looking for a job, lose the hoodie put on a clean shirt, and “thank you for wearing a tie.”