smart spending

Interview tips to snag a good job

A newspaper clipping reading, "Jobs find," and "technology careers"
Highlights
  • Don't try to impress a prospective boss by spilling competitor secrets.
  • Prepare by researching a future employer's mission and objectives.
  • It might not hurt to start doing the job before you're actually hired.

When unemployment rises, the competition pool deepens. If you're looking for work and get invited for an interview, it's more important than ever to make a favorable first impression -- as well as to avoid making a not-so-good one. Interview tips from experienced hiring managers can come to the rescue.

"You want to be the person they'll always remember, but not as the office punch line," says Rachel C. Weingarten, author of "Career and Corporate Cool: How to Look, Dress, and Act the Part -- at Every Stage of Your Career."

Hiring managers share their stories -- good and bad -- about job applicants they'll never forget.

Avoid social media faux pas

Nearly half (46 percent) of adults are active on social networking sites, according to a PEW Internet survey. Crystal L. Kendrick, president of marketing-consulting firm The Voice of Your Customer, has seen applicants use these sites to their advantage as well as disadvantage.

One applicant used LinkedIn to look up the professional profiles of the people who would be interviewing her. "She found out how long we've all been there, what types of certifications we have earned, and other career-related information," says Kendrick. "This allowed the applicant to ask questions such as, 'I believe you've been here for a year. What have you learned in that year and what would you recommend to a new employee?'" Kendrick was impressed with the applicant's level of interest.

Another candidate's use of social networking was annoying. The applicant sent Facebook "friend requests" to employees at the company before the interview and later came to the meeting with printouts of their personal profiles. "Instead of sending friend requests to people who don't know you, it's better to become a fan of the company," Kendrick says.

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Do your homework

A Chippewa Falls, Wis., applicant thoroughly researched a company, reviewing their strategic plan and news coverage until she had a clear understanding of the organization's mission and objectives. "She was able to specifically discuss and refer to our main areas of focus, our fundraising achievements over the past few years, the events that we did and their level of success," says Linda Pophal, owner of Strategic Communications.

An applicant who worked for a competitor wasn't as impressive, coming to the interview armed with negative stories about her former employer, and sharing copies of their communication plans and the results of their media relations efforts. Bad-mouthing former employers or sharing their proprietary information will leave interviewers wondering what will be said about their company in the future.

 

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