By Dr. Deborah Marynak
A good first impression can improve your career — and you have just five minutes to make one in a job interview. That’s how long it takes half of hiring managers to figure out whether a job candidate would be a good fit for a position, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey.
“Interviewers gather clues about you based on whether you are punctual, how you are dressed, your handshake, the eye contact you make and the first words that come out of your mouth,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder. “That’s why it’s important to have a strategy for a great first impression every time you interview.”
Now is a particularly good time to figure that out as the job market shows signs of improvement. Still, don’t expect the job hunt to be easy. While opportunities abound, competition for them is fierce.
“Organizations are much more particular,” said Kim Seeling Smith, founder of human resources training and consulting firm Ignite Global. “We went through years of cost cutting and headcount reduction, so when they hire, they want to make sure they hire the best person. Employers are being pickier, so it’s really critical to nail the interview.”
Kim went on to say that one of the first things Interviewers look at is body language. Some of the most common faux pas include:
- Failure to make eye contact was the most common job-interview error; 67% of hiring managers identified this as the biggest body language error
- Failing to smile throughout the interview
- Playing with something on the table.
- Poor posture
Other Job Interview errors:
- Getting caught lying is reported as an instant deal breaker by over two-thirds of employers.
- Answering a call or a text during the interview
- Appearing arrogant or entitled ranked third among job-interview deal breakers
On top of avoiding these mistakes, you need to prepare well in order to ace your next interview, Haefner added. “Due to technology, job candidates have all the information they could need at their fingertips through a web search,” she said. “Because of this, companies now expect you will do your due diligence before your interview more than ever.”
Seeling Smith recommends finding out who will be conducting the interview and “LinkedIn stalking them.” Learn about their background and current job title and figure out whether that person would be your supervisor or simply among the people you might work with, she said.
Also find out as much as you can about the actual role you’re applying for. Try talking to someone in human resources before your interview to learn the three key attributes that the hiring managing is seeking from the right candidate and the three main goals she wants this position to achieve. “Then it’s your job to come up with examples of where you have been able to deliver a similar skill in the past,” said Seeling Smith.
Of course, you need to be prepared to answer common interview questions, too. Seeling Smith suggested practicing your answers in advance and keeping your responses between 30 seconds and two minutes.
Finally, don’t forget that a job interview is a two-way street. You’re not only trying to prove that you are the right person for the job; you also want to figure out if the position and the company are a good fit for you. So ask questions about the role (not about compensation at this point), such as why it exists, how it impacts the company and how success is measured.
Your questions can help you get answers and make you a more appealing candidate at the same time. Since people often make the mistake of neglecting to do this, asking good questions during an interview is a great way to stand out from the hiring pool.
“Interviewers learn as much or more about the candidates that they’re interviewing by the questions that the candidates ask than by the answer they give to the interviewers’ questions,” said Seeling Smith.
Compensation questions should come towards the end of the interview and it does not have to be a one-way conversation. Be prepared to defend your position when if you’re asked: “what kind of compensation are you looking to make?” Most importantly, make sure you can deliver the qualifications they’re looking for in a candidate.
“Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it.”
– Katherine Whitehorn
Dr. Deborah Marynak is the owner of Dental Staffing.org, a dentist with over 30 years experience, and is committed to helping Dental Professionals find the right fit for both employees and employers. She also works with Dental Offices to help them streamline their clinical systems and teachrd Dental Teams how to effectively document to avoid risk.