I wouldn't consider myself an interviewing expert by any means. I've had my fair share of interview bloopers in my past- who doesn't? What I do know is that after countless hours reading through resumes, interviewing potential candidates and juggling the multitude of applicants for each position, I have come to the conclusion that I am a firm believer in making a lasting first impression.
It wasn't until I started at iCIMS as their Corporate Recruiter that I began to take notice of certain pet-peeves in the application & interviewing process. My intention in writing this blog post is not to vent or nit-pick about my experiences (good & bad) with less-than-experienced interviewees. However, my goal is to educate those on what goes through the mind of a recruiter when reviewing resumes & interviewing for the job.
Take everything you've done through the course of your career. Take all of your accomplishments, all your awards, all your successes and put them into words in 12-point Times New Roman font and make sure that it fits on one page. Tough feat, I know!
- First and foremost, forget the one-page rule. For entry-level grads coming out of college, sticking to one page is the rule of thumb. But this is your chance to get in front of the recruiter; this is your chance to light up their eyes! If that means spilling your experience onto two pages, by all means, go right ahead. Years ago, when the hiring was good, getting by with the basic job description on a resume would do. However, as applicants are hitting the 'Apply' button more than ever, you want to make sure your resume highlights all those keywords recruiters are plugging into an applicant tracking system search. I'm not asking you to lie on your resume; I’m just asking you to leave nothing to the recruiter’s imagination.
- Please, (please, please) proofread. Send out your resume to family, friends, and neighbors; anyone who will be able to look at it from a view other than your own. You’ll be amazed at things you’ve managed to overlook.
- Talk about your successes. Stop copying and pasting the company job description that was given to you 5 years ago and call them your "responsibilities". You and I know that there was a lot more you were held accountable for. Make sure that you detail your success; what value did YOU bring to the organization?
There are plenty of articles out there that cite "Best Interview Practices , and they all have a common theme: "Make a Lasting First Impression". What never ceases to amaze me is that there are still a handful of people that chose to disregard these articles and pave their own way.
- BE. ON. TIME. I don't care what you have to do to get to your interview on time. There are very few excuses for being late. As lame as it sounds, take a test drive the day before so you know exactly where the building is! On the same note, please don't show up 45 minutes early. Relax in your car, read over your notes, call friends for advice, but please try to arrive no earlier than 15-20 minutes.
- DO YOUR RESEARCH! - This here, my friends, is my BIGGEST pet-peeve. The internet is a lovely thing. And fortunately, most companies have a lot of press about them these days! It’s a smack in the face when I ask candidates what they know about our organization and the reply I get is "not too much." I am most impressed when people show they took time to read up on our organization, checked us out on on Twitter, went to our Facebook page, etc. It shows a certain level of interest and commitment to their job search.
- TAKE NOTES. ASK QUESTIONS. So you've made it through the interview, then the interviewer asks "Do you have any questions for me?". Don't ever respond with "Well, no, I think you covered everything." Go into your interview with at least 5 questions prepared in advance (be careful not to ask a question if it has already been answered in the interview). By asking good, detailed questions, it shows a level of interest in the opportunity you're applying for.
I guess my take away from this blog post is that Preparation and First Impressions truly do go a long way. Take your job search seriously; it can be considered a full-time job in itself! With that being said, make sure that with each opportunity you get to present yourself to a potential employer, you make a full-time commitment to make sure it’s a lasting one.
For other interview advice follow: @InterviewCoach
About the author: Lewis Lin is a Seattle-based interview coach who prepares clients for the difficult questions that will come their way during a job search.
Why you should follow him: Lin Tweets his own interview tips, as well as other experts' advice and news articles