The BEST Ways to Make a GREAT First Impression…Apply & Prepare for the Job Interview!

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Let’s face it, we live in a global social media environment…with the click of a button we can read, shop, virtual travel, like, post, or “tweet”, Skype or FaceTime most anywhere in the world.  We don’t even have to get dressed, brush our teeth, or leave our homes.    Job hunting and applying for job positions can be easily done via the web, and many times, is encouraged by the “apply online” tags that we see for many job opportunities.  We can apply in our jammies, any time of the day or night, and take all the time needed to answer the application questions.  Super easy and convenient.

But what comes next?  After the search and application, how do you make a GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION on the job interview?   How do you get NOTICED and REMEMBERED long after the interview?  How can you BEST prepare yourself to be your BEST?  So it’s with this goal that I write this blog post!  This series of articles will draw on my own Management experiences of nearly 20 years and countless interview scenarios.  I have no doubt, that with advanced thinking and preparation, YOU can create a GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION on your job interview, which can lead to you getting THE  JOB!

Let’s get started!  The FIRST step after you’ve applied for a job/sent your resume, is PREPARATION.  Even before the phone call or email to set up your interview is received, there’s a few things you can PREPARE so you can make that GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION:

  • Be SURE the jobs you apply for are JOBS you want…it’s easy to apply, apply, apply on-line but if you really don’t want to work retail hours, then don’t apply for retail jobs, etc.  Seems simple enough, but sometimes the need for a job clouds the reality of what the job will be …don’t waste your time and energy if you can’t commit to the job duties and hours.  Most of us have had jobs that weren’t our “dream” jobs, but be honest with yourself about what you’re willing to do and the hours you are available to work.  I guarantee this will be brought up in your interview, so don’t say you’re “flexible” with work hours if you can’t work every day of the week.  Employers are filling positions with varied hours, so identify what fits for you BEFORE you apply.   I’ve always appreciated employees who told me up front that they have a commitment every Tuesday, third weekend, or whatever, so I could work a schedule out with them in mind, if I feel they’re the right candidate for the job.
  • Set-up a calendar app on your phone and identify the dates & times YOU are FREE for the interview, and training.  I know, I know, you don’t even HAVE an interview YET, but when you do, you will STAND OUT if you already have mapped out a few time slots that you are available.  Look for about 3 hour chunks of time to commit for the interview, including the drive time to get to the interview.  Look ahead 3 weeks on your calendar.  The reason you set-up the calendar on your phone is that it will be easily accessible to you so you can quickly check your availability.  We ALL have busy lives, but if you can help the hiring manager to quickly find a mutual time to interview you, you’re that much closer to getting the job!
  • Prepare with paper and pen.  I know this might seem “archaic” in our media world, but studies show that when we WRITE THINGS DOWN they stick in our memory better…you can add the written information to your phone notes later, keep it ORGANIZED!
  • Research the company you have applied to, know what their “product” is, a bit of their history, and their goals is a great asset to YOU standing out from the crowd of applicants.  Even if the job position is part-time or seasonal, prepare as if it’s a full-time position…many part-time or seasonal workers STAND OUT in their work ethic and are asked to become full-time employees!
  •  Jot down a FEW questions you may need to ask when the interview date is being set up….a few of my favorites are:  “Where’s the best place to park, & is there a charge for parking?”  “What floor and office shall I meet you at?” “When I arrive, whom should I check in with?”  I can’t tell you enough about the many times applicants arrived LATE because they didn’t find parking, didn’t have $$$ to pay to park, or the parking lot was being resurfaced and the parking was shuttled so they had no idea of the difficulties. An applicant was marked as a “no show” for my interview because he spent 45 minutes in reception WITHOUT SPEAKING TO ANYONE!  He could have easily walked to the reception desk and introduced himself as the applicant with an appointment.  It’s ok to ask well-thought out questions, the manager may be dealing with 100 applicants and may not convey everything that would be helpful to YOU, so be pro-active and ASK!   Let’s face it, you may be super nervous the DAY of the interview, so PREPARE for as much as you can BEFORE!
  • Make sure that your resume is polished and up to date.  Even if you have limited job experience you can focus on your QUALITIES & ATTRIBUTES that would make you a GREAT employee to this company.  Many volunteer work episodes have great learning opportunities that can show a potential employer any skills you may have gained.
  • PLEASE keep your resume 1-2 pages ONLY…SIMPLE is better, and have it proofread by another “set of eyes” for grammatical errors.  You can expand on any points in your resume when asked, so make sure YOU KNOW your information! I’ve read a few resumes that were written by others and the applicant couldn’t answer a question about its content.  YOUR resume is YOURS no matter how it was prepared, so make sure it reflects YOU!
  • Print 2 copies of YOUR RESUME and BRING them with you to your interview.  I know, I know, you may have already emailed or attached your resume on-line, but having a copy with you can be invaluable.  I’ve interviewed many who DID NOT bring their resume to the interview, and they did not get a second interview.  It’s hard to believe that people state in their resume that they have “attention to detail” but fail to bring their resume.  The manager has STACKS of resumes/applications to look at, and not having to dig through to find YOURS can put you at the TOP.  Trust me on this!  Crisp, clear, non-wrinkled or smudged resumes, placed in a folder shows you care about making a GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION!

Ok, time to get started on these first steps! Be motivated to take the time to apply and prepare these tips in your job hunting for success.  Motivation puts the “fire” within you…that “fire” gets your inner power going!  YOU CAN DO THIS!!

Look for my next series tips on GETTING READY FOR THE INTERVIEW…the BIG day!!