Lindsay Olson

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Learning From Other's Mistakes

Photo by: Ktpupp

I'm a recruiter. I talk to a lot of people everyday about their jobs, about what they looking for, how to get their next job and present their best during the interview process. I guide each candidate every step of the way, beginning with the interview process, leading to the offer stage, and (hopefully) ending with the acceptance. As you might imagine, with over 10 years in the business, I have some good stories. I work with very intelligent, professional candidates, but it is inevitable mistakes will happen. People make big mistakes. Mistakes that, well, make you glad they didn't happen to you.

Much of my week is spent prepping candidates and giving them the information they need to do their best during their interviews. I even prep the people I don't feel need a prep or people who I wonder might feel like I am insulting their intelligence. You would think PR folks should be pros at selling themselves given their profession. The truth is they are just like everyone else, and frankly, most people have a hard time finding a way to "tell their story" without underselling and or overselling themselves.

Here are 5 tips - each a product of real life true stories.

1. Make sure you know the company's name when you write your follow-up thank you letter after the interview. The same goes for the interviewer's name. "Weber Edelman" isn't a company. Lesson: Attention to detail. Future employers need to see that a future hire pays attention to detail and truly wants to work for their company, not just any company.

2. Show up to the interview on time. Not the day before or after. It won't matter that you showed up at the same time on a different day. What matters is that you got it so wrong!

Lesson: The interview is the first impression. Showing up late/too early is a predictor of possible future issues. It also shows very little respect for the other person's time. (This goes for interviewers showing up late with candidates as well, but more on that in future post).

3. Don't suck up.

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People generally hate that. Especially the hiring manager or the CEO of the company. Telling the hiring manager you will get along because you have the same fashion sense doesn't score points. Lesson: Don't be overly familiar with the interviewers. An interview is nothing more than just that. You don't have the job until you sign on the dotted line AND start your first day of work.

4. Dress the part. You can be goth at night or wear your "fun" clothes to the club. And hygiene - women, if you wash your hair every few days normally, that's fine, but wash it before the interview. Clean your fingernails too (use clear or no polish). Go easy on the makeup and the jewelry. Lesson It's Pat ipod : A decision to move forward or not with a candidate is usually made during the first few minutes of an interview. Don't give the interviewer a reason to be distracted by appearance. You are being judged on how well you would represent within the company and the image of the company to the outside.

5. Be available during business hours for an interview. Yes, 9:00 pm is too late for the interview and let's not even think about asking for the weekend. Interviewing while having a job is difficult, but it is a necessary evil. Asking an interviewer to be available outside of normal business hours will translate as being disrespectful of the process and the interviewer's personal life (let me just add the "interviewer" includes your recruiter). Lesson: Be prepared to figure out a way to make the interview happen. Standard times are between 8-5:30pm.

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