From a Recruiter’s Viewpoint Vol. 17

Job Interview Issues

Business casual can be confusing: What to wear?

Avoid making any type of negative impression. The rule of thumb for men and women remains a two piece matched dark suit, a light or white shirt and a bright-colored but sophisticated tie for men. You can never be overdressed. Even if they say to wear business casual, it’s appropriate for you to be in a suit and tie. Show a bit of personality in your choice of tie, but use common sense. You never get a second chance to make a first impression and your appearance is your first impression. Wearing a suit to the interview shows you take the interview seriously as a professional meeting. Dressing well is a compliment to the person(s) with whom you meet.

“So, tell me about yourself” – fresh strategies to answer this all-important, age-old interview question.

This question, usually asked early, gives the candidate total control of the process. The response can help steer some of the later questions that may get asked. You can be viewed favorably when answered well or, if not, set the stage for a lackluster interview. Here are some ideas on what to say:

  • Tell them what they can’t see on the resume
  • Tell them what is exciting about you
  • What sets you apart from all the others
  • Do not restate your resume
  • Respond in 90 seconds or so
  • Share the big view of career highlights – not the minutiae
  • Include key highlights, recognition, certifications and other special notables

Other considerations:

  • Something personal in your opening
  • What is motivating you to seek a new career opportunity
  • Why are you interested in working for them

The opening and close are the most difficult parts to develop in your response. Plan well and rehearse. Candidates must have the skills to get the job offer, but they also need to be liked and fit in.

The opening and personal information should not be too long – just enough to get the interviewer interested, position you as a strong candidate and provide a segue into the professional overview and abilities that you bring to the table.

Whatever is said needs to be done with confidence that creates a bond. Tonality and body language are important factors. Words are important, but the way we deliver them is key.

The closing is equally important. It is a good time to explain why you are seeking a change or why you are interviewing with this particular organization. Share the research that you have done on the company. Don’t sound scripted. You must sound excited, interesting and professionally viable.

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