Secrets from the Inside: An HR’s Guide to Acing the Job Interview and Getting Hired!

How to get hired, job interview, how to get a job, Job, Interview

Greetings “Being Melody” readers. I’m Kristin, HR Manager for a fortune 500 retailer. I was definitely excited about being asked to contribute some insight on job hunting. But I have to be honest, I was nervous about writing this because the information on the proper etiquette is vast and sometimes contradictory depending on the type of job market you would like to enter. So with that said I’m going to focus on tips that can transcend markets. But before I go any further, let me just say, that these are my opinions and do not represent the company I work for or anyone else’s opinions for that matter. Now that I’ve said the ‘legal’ stuff, let me start serving the tea.

So let’s start with the pre-interview, this is the time when the recruiter or hiring manager is looking at your resume is about to call you to ‘phone screen’ you or invite you in for an interview. Here are some things to make sure you are invited and ready:

  1. Your contact information is your first impression. Set up a professional email address and voice mail message. Not having your voicemail set up or an email address will have you passed over and the recruiter moving on quickly. And keep it simple and pleasant. For example” Hi you’ve reached Sorry I am not available please leave a message after the tone. Or just use the automated greeting provided. Your email address should not be twerkqueen69@gmail.com or anything similar. Use your name in your email address jsmith@gmail.com or” jbsmith12@yahoo.com”. You want to be taken seriously, so get rid of ring backs too, not only did they go out with the jerk but they can say things about you that you may not want your potential new employer to know quite yet.
  2. If you’re applying for a retail or non-corporate type local position and want to call to check on your application, do not call five minutes after you’ve applied for a position. Yes I know you want the job, but honestly, recruiters are typically handling multiple positions at one time and do have other responsibilities. They may not even be ready to work through the candidates for the position you applied for. Give it a few days before calling, and then when you do finally call do not be aggressive. Meaning do not call every day or multiples times a day to check on your application. If they say they will you, then wait on them. By continuing to call you now appear as if you cannot follow simple instructions or do not listen well. And no one is interested in people who can’t follow the simplest of instructions or can’t listen.
  3. Do not use slang. You’re looking for a job not a homey.
  4. If they leave a message, return their call in a timely manner. Do not wait more than 24 hours to return their call. Most recruiters will take your laidback approach as not being interested in the position and move on if you wait too long. Leave a message and a good time for them to reach you if they are unavailable when you return their call.
  5. They are going to ask why you applied or want to work for this company. Be able to speak to both of those points. Avoid saying “I need a job, so I applied”, that’s obvious since the recruiter has your resume/application in front of them. Tell them what about the position/company attracted you and what skills you have that made you feel this position would be a good fit for you. Be clear and concise.

OK so let’s say you get the interview cause you were able to ‘sparkle through the phone’ and seem like a great culture fit for the company. What do you do now? PREPARE!!!!

  1. Research the company. We live in a world where information is literally at your fingertips. USE IT. Google the company: look at not only how the company is performing but what others have to say about it and what they are doing for the community around it.
  2. Get someone to help you prep. Google search “examples of interview questions”. This will help you get in the mind frame of interviewing. If you haven’t interviewed in a while it is a great way to practice before the big day.
    1. After being asked a question, pause and gather your thoughts. Think of an example that you can fully explain and shows you at your best. Don’t say things like ‘well just last week’, ‘just the other day’ etc. if you can help it because the perception may become that your experience is limited or you’re still ‘new’ to the field.
    2. State the problem, the step you took to resolve, the outcome and anything learned/changed because of it.
  3. Leave in enough time to get there early, but not too early. Do not arrive more than 10 minutes early for an interview. Arriving earlier than this can be viewed as rude and inconsiderate. The recruiter may feel rushed and trust me we do not like feeling rushed.
  4. Dress appropriately and try to be one level up in dress than the position you apply for. If you know that most folks wear jeans to work at the company, wear khakis. If it’s an office job, try dressing business professional. No wrinkles. Keep your accessories to a minimum and nothing large in size. Also, no six inch spiked stilettos or rhinestone studded heels. You don’t have to wear all black, pops of color are good but don’t go overboard and look like the rainbow. Cleavage should be covered. Clothes should fit but not be tight. Make up: keep it simple and natural. Unless you’re interviewing to be a makeup artist, then go all out and be glamorous. False lashes should be natural looking, nails shouldn’t be wildly colored or too long. Yes I know you want to be you. But get the job first, learn the dress code and be you within in the dress code. You are still you and can do all these things I’m telling you not to do when you are not at work. Trust me, it will be ok. No short skirts, keep them at knee length or right above the knee. Spandex/stretch material is for the gym, not a job interview. Unless it is Spanx and then by all means wear it under your outfit to keep everything in place.  
  5. Bring at least 2 copies of your resume.
  6. Ask questions. That’s right, you should ask questions. Interviewers love when you do this. This interviews is not just about making sure you fit the company but also that the company fits you. What good is it to land a job and then find out that it’s something you hate or you don’t even like the company or its mission? Companies want engaged employees who want to come to work and stay with them awhile. Think about the things you need in order to be ‘happy’ at work and base your questions off that.
  7. NO weak handshakes. That goes for you ladies too. Practice. Have an assertive grip. Weak handshakes are a sign of low confidence. Too strong of a handshake and you can be seen as aggressive. Full grip of the hand, slight squeeze. That’s all it takes.
  8. Ask for business cards. After the interview you need to send a thank you correspondence within 24 hours of the interview. If you don’t know how to write one or are afraid to write one, google ‘interview thank you notes’ and you’ll find a plethora of examples to tailor to your needs. Thank you notes are a lost art form, but always appreciated and help you stand out in the crowd.
  9. Last but not least, following up after the interview. Before you leave ask for a timeframe on when a decision will be made and how will interviewed candidates be notified of the decision. Then wait the time listed for a decision. IF they say two weeks, then do not follow up before two weeks has passed and try not to be aggressive in your inquiries. That means do not call and email daily for updates. If you’re inquiring about a decision before the time they gave you is up, then it may appear like you were not listening or are impatient. That’s not a good look for you. Do not allow yourself to be perceived as extra thirsty.

Alright, I think I’ve probably given you enough to chew on by now. This list by no means contains everything you need to do to get hired. However, it is a good starting point for you to make a positive impact at your next interview. I want to thank you all for taking the time to read this and if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. I’d love to hear what you think. Until next time folks!!

Kristin's Headshot

Kristin is a native of South Carolina. A graduate of Winthrop University (undergraduate) and Clemson University (graduate school). She is a young HR professional, with a Master’s degree in Human Resource Development, who has a passion for people and engaging them at all levels. She loves to lend a helping hand in her community when possible. She is a foodie, a DIY diva, sock enthusiast and loves to dabble in make-up. Currently she resides in Spartanburg, SC and works for a Fortune 500 home improvement retail company as an HR Manager.
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