I got to spend all of one day this week at a recruiting fair for a new project that’s just getting started. Like some job fairs, it may only be a meet-and-greet, but what may not hit home with some candidates, is that it is STILL an interview. I’m not a big fan of making interviews stressful – there’s enough of that that already happens….but I DO want to know enough about the candidate to be able to get a reasonable impression of who they are, what they think their strong points are, and any ideas that they might have about how to improve their environment.
Some candidates understand what its all about, come dressed well, prepared, and ready to answer questions, and have a few of their own. Others, well, not so much. I’ve had some interviews that were interesting and even fun – and others that seemed to drag on for the entire time. Here are a few pointers to help make it easier on both the candidate and the interviewer.
1) Even if it’s a job fair, remember, it’s still an interview – and since there are so many people going through the process, all we’ll have is what we had a chance to write down during the 30 minutes, and any lasting impressions (good or bad). Make sure they’re good ones.
2) Remember in a job fair that the interviewers are seeing LOTS of people all day long. They’re looking for ways to quickly determine if the person should move forward in the process. When I’m given a stack of resumes, my first pass is to reduce the pool to those I need to talk with….and I’m amazed that resumes still come through with typos and poor grammar. I’m not looking for perfect….but at least have SOMEONE review your resume before you hand it out. If you’re good, I want to talk to you – but if you can’t take the time to make sure this document is good, how can I know that you’re not just as sloppy on the job?
3) Get the basics right – Show up on time, dressed reasonably, and ready to go. You don’t have to over dress for the interview, but better to make that mistake than do the opposite. I had a candidate show up late, unshaven, in a sweatshirt and jeans….and getting any information was difficult at best. The next person came in suit and tie, fully prepared, and even had a portfolio of his achievements and certifications – I wanted to tell them – “You had me at hello.”
Job-hunting is a stressful exercise – it’s not easy for anyone, but you can make it easier by doing a few simple things – prepare, stand out, and get the basics right. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the job, but you’ll stand a lot better chance by standing out (in a good way).