Although my birth year technically makes me a millennial, I’m definitely in the oldest group of the generation. Straddling Gen X and Gen Y means I have more hiring experience (as interviewer and interviewee) than your typical recent graduate, but not enough experience to be applying to executive level positions that would most likely be irrelevant to you.
Because of my history of hiring and building teams within companies, friends will often ask me to review their resume or ask for interview tips. Here are three pieces of advice I like to pass on:
Focus on well-fitting, neutral clothing instead of trendy, designer clothing.
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen applicants in our age group make is wearing ill-fitting, wrinkled clothing. You don’t need to break the bank for striking interview style; pick up some basics, such as a few blouses or shirts, pencil skirts and dress pants, from a local Target or Ann Taylor in neutral colors (remember, you want the interview board to remember you, not the hot pink print of your pants). If you try on any item and feel like you are in-between sizes, buy the larger size. Then, take these items and get them tailored to fit your body. The result will be a look that is clean and flattering, boosting your confidence for the big day and will show the hiring committee that you mean business!
Guys, this goes for you, too. Don’t forget to shine your shoes and, when in doubt, opt for a conservative look. The one exception to this rule is for interviews at retail companies known for a specific style. Usually, the recruiter will make a note of the dress code in the email if that is the case, but do not hesitate to ask if they don’t mention it. Finally, don’t forget to wash and style your hair for a truly polished look!
Prepare three key points you want to include in your interview, no matter what.
What are the three major factors that you think make you an ideal candidate for the position? Write them down (really), because this will help you commit them to memory. Be sure to work these points in your interview, even if you are not asked questions directly relevant to your points. Answer the question first and then “tack-on” your most relevant factor.
Be courteous, attentive, and make eye contact with EVERYONE you meet.
This includes the entire interview board, the office assistant, and other team members. If your attitude is confident and you give the impression that you would be easy to work with, you are much more likely to get the job, especially if you experience is similar to other applicants. And if you’re rude to one person, word will travel quickly that you aren’t an appropriate “cultural” fit.