Thursday, February 27, 2014

Interview tips from etiquette expert Virginia Edwards

If you’ve attended our Etiquette Dinners in the last few years, Virginia Edwards’ name will be familiar to you since she has been our speaker.  I always enjoy reading her monthly newsletter, and, when I read her February newsletter, I immediately wrote to her and told her that she had just unknowingly written my next blog post.  With her permission, I’ve copied the first half of her article about interviewing below and will use the second half about follow-up after the interview at a later date.  From Virginia…..

“Your resume grabbed the attention of the HR manager.  You aced the telephone interview by having the company information at your fingertips and by remembering to keep background noise to a minimum.  You are at the next step.  The in-person interview.

HR managers tell me time and again how a candidate who has made it to the in-person interview can lose all credibility in an instant.  How does this happen?  Candidates need to remember they are being observed from the moment they arrive on company property until the moment they depart.  This includes driving your car onto the parking lot.  If it looks like you live in your car, clean it up or borrow or rent one for the day.

Do not underestimate the value of a receptionist!  Some receptionists are the first to interview a candidate.  This is not the time to be overly familiar with someone you just met or worse yet rude.  I have been hired on numerous occasions to play the role of receptionist in order to obtain a third party observation of how potential candidates interact with all levels of staff.

Most HR managers are driven to distraction when a candidate arrives with nothing in their hands.  Now I don’t mean you are to come bearing gifts.  You should arrive with a portfolio holding several copies of your resume, a list of your references, and pen and paper to take notes.  Your portfolio should be sturdy enough to lean on for note-taking since it is rude to lean on someone’s desk.  Even technology companies tell me they prefer the candidate to use pen and paper opposed to a smartphone or tablet for note-taking.  If you are unsure, ask in advance of your interview.  If told no technology, leave your phone in the car.  Even in your pocket or briefcase on vibrate; it is a distraction to you and those around you.  You are at the interview for human interaction, not to read your emails and texts, or to take calls.

Prepare a list of questions you would like answered about the company.  One HR manager told me how a sought-after candidate lost his credibility when the interviewer asked if he had any questions regarding the company or the position.  The candidate replied, “No.  I know everything.”  Even if you believe you know all there is to know about the company and the position, prepare some well thought out questions.”

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