The dreaded first job interview
Your first job interview is like any other experience when meeting another person. First encounters range from “Get me the f*&$ out of here” to “I nailed it.” We have all had interviews and first dates where we felt the above or somewhere in between. When I coach clients, I often compare and contrast the first job interview experience with a first date. Most people can relate to this analogy because everyone has had a “first date”. When you think about it, both the interview process and the dating process have a lot in common.
We can have a string of bad first dates and not lose hope. Afterall, there is always the monastery as a consolation prize. When it comes to finding a job, a string of bad interviews won’t lead us to a monastery. Not knowing where we are making mistakes in the interview process will lead us to the unemployment line as a consolation prize. We need to get the interview thing right and HRNasty is here to spit at you.
My goal with the next two posts is to set expectations for your first job interview so you will be less nervous, can create a great experience, and make it to round 2.
The first rule of the first job interview
In the same way, we don’t expect to get a marriage proposal on the first date, we shouldn’t expect a job offer in the first job interview.
The goal of the first interview is to get the second interview
If you try to get laid on the first date, a.) You come off as a creep or b.) The relationship doesn’t last. It’s just a one night stand and our careers should be thought of as LTR. Try to land the job on the first interview and you come off as desperate. No one wants to date or hires desperate.
Not a mind reader
The second rule of your first job interview: Show initiative. Don’t rely on the person conducting the interview to ask you the questions that YOU WANT to answer. Make a move. Feel empowered to tell the recruiter about yourself. If you have specific skills or experiences that are relevant to the job, make sure we get those on the table.
If you are on a first date with a hottie who is a foodie, you make sure you tell them you know how to make pasta from scratch and share your foodie blog. We don’t want to say goodbye at the end of the night with regret and wonder “Why didn’t she ask me about my foodie blog?” I’ll tell you why dumbass as I flick your forehead with my thumb and middle finger like a booger.
Your date isn’t a mind reader and neither is the person interviewing you. Take control of the situation; don’t let the situation control you. No one wants to hire a sheep. Today’s economy wants people with initiative. Be the hammer, not the nail.
Think of the receptionist as the younger sibling of your hot date
When we meet the younger sibling of our hottie date for the first time, we don’t big-time them. We create engagement and build rapport. If this relationship is going to go anywhere, we are going to be interacting with this family so we need to play the long game.
When you enter the front lobby, we will be greeted by the receptionist. Smile, introduce yourself, (SMILE again) and take control: “Hi, my name is HRNasty, and I had an interview with Suzy Smith.” The way to make a great first impression is by making it easy on the folks you are talking to feel at ease. I blogged about this here. This reception person may not be potential family but will be a potential colleague. Play the long game.
Grab the opportunity
If you have the opportunity to talk to the receptionist, TAKE IT. SMILE and just say:
- “I am really excited about this interview, from everything that I have read, it sounds like a great place to work”.
- “Can I ask what you like about this company?”
- “I really like that watch, necklace, haircut.”
- “This is a really great office space. It must be a fun place to work.”
Folks at the front desk have more input in the hiring decision than most candidates think. Often, if you ask the question, “Do you have any advice for me” you will be surprised at what help you will receive. This is especially true when you have created some rapport.
As you can see, our first job interview hasn’t technically started and there is a lot we can do. The folks we are interacting with may not be grading us, but by gawd, they are judging us, have influence and with a heavy hand no less.
How to greet the recruiter
You will probably be asked to sit in a lobby and wait for Suzy Recruiter. While you are waiting for Suzy Recruiter, check out your surroundings. Read the company literature. Reading email on your phone is a no-no.
Suzy Recruiter will come out to meet you in the lobby. Be on the lookout for him or her. As they approach, stand up, take the initiative, and make a move towards her. SMILE, extend your hand and introduce yourself. Don’t wait to be sitting in their shadow before you look up. That is a weak move and proves you got NO game. Who wants to work with someone who lacks the confidence to say hello? You may be the guest, but making your host feel welcome towards you will help set a very different tone. If you greet the wrong person, that is OK. Common courtesy will never go out of style.
Make it EASY
We want to make it as EASY as possible for this person to get along with you. Having me wait for you to finish up email on your phone is a lousy way to start off this relationship and the quickest way to end it. (All I can assume is that this is how you will treat our customers. Yes, this shit happens.) Anytime someone approaches you, stand up. This is Emily Post manners 101.
Handshake should be firm
You have heard the handshake speech a million times. There is a reason you keep hearing it. BECAUSE SO MANY CANDIDATES GIVE A WEAK HANDSHAKE which is the equivalent of NO HANDSHAKE. You might as well just give them “The hand”, turn around and walk out because we just blew it. No one complains about a firm handshake.
SMILE and repeat after me. “Thanks for taking the time to meet with me; I’ve been looking forward to talking to you about this opportunity”. Anything less is the equivalent of a dead fish so show some enthusiasm and excitement.
Next week what to expect from the actual interview.
See you at the after party,
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.