Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Did you know?

On average, every corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes. But only 4 to 6 of these people will be called for an interview, and only 1 of those will be offered a job.

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So, if you are one of those four to six people who got called for an interview, you want to be prepared to make an excellent first impression. Whether it’s fair or not, first impressions count for a lot. And no first impression is more crucial to one’s employment than the job interview. In fact, an entire industry of interview coaching has been created, helping prospective job seekers learn how to deal with the interview process. These coaches cover topics such as what to wear to the interview, what to say, how to speak, and even how to sit.

Let’s not kid ourselves. These skills are crucial in many other areas as well. Knowing how to conduct one’s self during an interview is also essential for those who are in the shidduch parsha, and certainly for anyone who is interested in making a good first impression. That’s why I’m going to present a few general rules of thumb that are tried and true and highly recommended by interview coaches across the spectrum.

According to experts, the first ten seconds of an interview are the most crucial, as that is when the interviewer sizes up potential candidate. So even if you have a sterling resume and all the right credentials, if you are not exuding confidence and competence during the first moments of your interview you will probably be passed up.

Here are some suggestions acing the interview:

  1. It’s important to relax during a job interview, which is of course easier said than done. Be positive and confident and try to make others around you feel the same as well. Think of the interview as a conversation, not an interrogation. And above all, be focused on the issue at hand – you really want that job.
  2. Be properly dressed. For men, this means wearing a suit. For women, it means coming well groomed, dressed neatly in a suit or ensemble that says to the world, “I’m ready to go out there and work!” According to Carole Martin, Interview Coach guru, “Your clothes and accessories should be conservative and neutral rather than wild and loud. Your clothes are your packaging and should not take attention away from the product.”
  3. Just as important as what you wear is that intangible concept we like to call “body language.” Every one of our actions speaks volumes. To exhibit self confidence, walk in to the interview with a smile, maintain eye contact and (when halachically appropriate) offer a firm handshake. Sit up straight and tall and maintain a relaxed position. Do not chew gum, swing your legs, cross your arms, slouch, or play with your clothing. I know these “rules” may seem trivial, but believe me when I tell you that there are many people who “blow” the interview because of annoying little behaviors like these.
  4. Be on time, or even better, be about ten minutes early. In an article for Job Search, Alison Doyle writes, “If need be, take some time to drive to the office ahead of time so you know exactly where you’re going.” Make all arrangements well ahead of time; leave the house at least a half hour earlier than you normally would, just in case there’s an unforeseen delay. Remember that your timeliness is evidence of your commitment, dependability, and professionalism. If, despite all your best efforts, there is still a delay, make sure to call ahead of time to give notice.
  5. Bring along any necessary papers and documentation, including samples of your past works and accomplishments, if necessary. Also bring a copy of your resume and a list of references. By all means, do not fold or scrunch your papers in order to fit them into your purse or pocket. Instead, place them neatly in a folder and carry a bag or briefcase. Your interviewer will certainly notice the attention to detail.
  6. Your voice and your vocabulary says a lot about you. Don’t speak too loudly, but don’t mumble either. Remember that most interviewers are looking for “enthusiasm and energy,” and these are the qualities you are trying to convey. Be upbeat and optimistic without coming off like a cheerleader.
  7. It’s always a good idea to review potential interview questions ahead of time. If you study the job announcement carefully, you will have a good idea of what the employer is looking for, and you can hone your answers accordingly. Do a little research on the company itself, and get a feel of what the firm is all about. There’s a good chance your interviewer will ask, “What do you know about our company?” and “Why do you want to work here?” Be prepared for these questions. You want to come off sounding polished, professional, and knowledgeable.
  8. During the interview, you are selling yourself. Answer questions with an illustrative story rather than with a simple yes or no. An article in Job Bank USA states, “Whenever possible, answer questions with a short story that gives specific examples of your experiences. A quick story will be remembered by the interviewer.”
  9. When it’s all over, thank the interviewer. When you get home, it’s a good idea to send a brief thank you note to the interviewer, reminding him or her once again of your desire to gain a position in the company. If you are not contacted within a week, follow up with a phone call.

 

You always knew you were one in a million – the interview is your chance to prove it!

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An acclaimed educator and social skills ​specialist​, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@gmail.com.