Q. As an agency HR director, I interview many candidates and am often amazed with what they tell me. Several of my colleagues share horror stories about inappropriate comments during interviews with several college students, recent grads and even veteran PR pros. And it doesn’t do their candidacies any good when they talk about the desperate nature of their job searches, or when they make caustic comments about former employers. Can you help everyone raise their game when it comes to appropriate interview conduct? -BW
A. The tight job market can be blamed for increasing tension in the job search, however, applicants must avoid sabotaging their own interviews. In previous posts, we talked about little-but-critical things such as a firm hand shake, appropriate interview attire and having a solid portfolio.
Once the basics are in place, the next hurdle is the interview itself. It’s important to avoid any criticism–direct or implied–of previous employers, and it’s equally important to avoid appearing desperate. A corporate colleague recently told me that several PR veterans during informational interviews said they would work for entry-level salaries. It made the interviewer uncomfortable when they slipped into monologues about the long and difficult nature of their searches. Please, save that discussion for family and close friends. Remain upbeat and positive during any potential job interview.
If you’re uncertain about interview preparation or conduct, check out a very helpful website — Job Interview Questions.org. It provides answers to almost any question you could possibly have about the interview process, including follow-up protocol. The site shares important suggestions for interviewers as well. Finally, be sure to read career-oriented articles by Wall Street Journal writer Sarah Needleman. Her most recent article, The Interview That’ll Bag a Job, is especially helpful to anyone facing an interview.
The Basics: Start with a solid hand shake, look the hiring manager in the eye, know who you’re talking with and key information about his/her business, and always remain positive.