Are You Sabotaging Your Interview for The “A” Team?

You left the interview frustrated and confused. You got in front of the decision-makers, but you didn’t get the job. Again. What’s holding you back?

Hiring for “A” teams is a very hot topic in small business owner forums these days. A major concern is commitment of potential employees. Will they be committed to the business and share the company’s passion for the services and products provided? Another topic frequently addressed in these forums is one of employee longevity – is the  person willing to put in time learning the way we do business or is it just a stepping stone? While it’s true that current jobs do not have the “30 year and retire with a gold watch” aspect found in the 1930s-1950s, employers still want to know that their time and effort put into training an employee is not in vain.

Before going to the interview do some homework and turn the tide in your favor to get hired.

The Cost of Hiring.. and Firing

Employers are becoming more selective of potential candidates for good reason. Hiring the wrong employee not only damages employee morale, it can damage business growth and cost them dearly.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that hiring the wrong entry-level employee can cost an employer between $5,000-7,000 after three months. Firing a manager that makes $20,000 per year will cost $40,000.  Add the unseen costs of lower employee morale, employee burnout, lost business, dissatisfied customers, and the cost to continue interviewing. It becomes a human resources’ nightmare.

This doesn’t include possible costs that result from employee lawsuits. A detailed list of employee rights and possible violations are listed on the U.S. Department of Labor website.  For these reasons, employers are careful to hire the right employee in the beginning to prevent the nightmares of terminating a bad employee.

Know the Company

This can’t be stressed enough. Before interviewing, take time to research the company. What is their mission statement? Understand its company culture. Learn as much as possible about its dress code and the dynamics of its management. Are you interested in its products or services? If you don’t care about the company, why should it care about hiring you?  One line from the “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” movie is Part of the crew, part of the ship.   The interviewer will recognize if you’re not interested in being a part of the crew; instead of letting you jump ship at the first opportunity, s/he won’t even let you cross the gangplank.

Do You Add Value?

When the employer asks you to describe one way you added value to a previous employer, what will you say?  Can you provide qualitative or quantitative results for contributions you brought to a previous employer? Can you explain why s/he should hire you? Are you progressive and understand how to use social media to promote a company? Employers welcome new hires who are progressive and aware of current technologies. You want to keep the company flowing with new energy, not float in stagnant waters.

Dress for Success

First impressions are hard to change. Presenting a professional image can make it or break it for a new hire.  Dressing like a professional, even if interviewing to flip burgers or push carts at Target, you’ll make a better impression and promote faster than if you assume it doesn’t matter.

Studies show that women who wear a fitted suit, a nice blouse and coordinated skirt are likely to be hired over someone wearing a coordinated pant suit, and definitely over someone wearing jeans–even if they cost $150.  Guys do better if they wear sport or dress shirts that are pressed, wear a tie, and wear slacks with a pressed crease down the leg.

This brings me to a touchy area, but it must be addressed – so here goes! Personal expression that includes wild hair colors, body piercings, radical tattoos is fine, but some employers are fairly old school. What I suggest is go back to the original hair color, cover the visible tattoos, and remove the obvious piercings for the interview. The idea is to get your foot in the door and prove your worth. After that, an employer may not have a problem with your appearance but be far more concerned about how much you add value and contributre to the organization.

Body language and personal expression are key factors to winning a job. Most employers have determined whether they’ll hire you based on your résumé and possibly  phone interview.  But the final factor is determined within the first five seconds after you walk into the room. The way you walk and your appearance reveals your self-confidence, self-esteem and professionalism. If you’ve prepared for the interview it shows, will make all the difference in how you’re perceived and whether you’re hired or still desperate for a paycheck.

What interview preparations have you taken to get hired?

4 Responses to “Are You Sabotaging Your Interview for The “A” Team?”

  1. Adrian Schuurmans August 8, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

    This is something I cover in a workshop, 1st impressions and how
    important they are. We actually offer a workshop called “Dress for
    Success” and there is a service in Vancouver with the same name. You
    can go in and buy a suit for $10 or so. These are not tacky suits,
    businessmen and businesswomen have donated them. If you land a job,
    they will GIVE you 3 outfits. All the service asks is when you are
    working for a time, make a donation. I think that demonstrates the
    importance of 1st impressions.

    I use the line “You don’t get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression”.

    I tell my clients ‘HR has a pretty good idea of whether you have the
    skills, you need to expand on them and show you fit their culture,
    mission statement and can grow with the company”, very similar to what
    you have stated, along with the cost of hiring. Everyone interviewing
    has the basic skills/qualifications and they are looking for the
    outstanding candidate. We can’t both be wrong can we? I use myself as
    an example in class. When I interviewed I brought up: working with
    persons with disabilities, my recovery, being a TA, where I hope to be
    in 5 years and personal philosophy. I tied each of those to the
    companies services and mission statement. Doing homework paid off.

    I like the questions you pose in the ‘value’ paragraph. Everyone
    talks about adding value however I think many clients (well many of
    mine), don’t understand what it means. Their POV is I go to work, they
    pay me, end of story. Maybe you could do an article on just ‘Adding
    Value: How and why.” with the types of things that could be considered
    value added?

    • Linda A. Hamilton August 8, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

      Thanks for your comments Adrian. I agree that not all job candidates clearly understand the importance of knowing their strengths or being able to clearly explain what they do that adds value to an employer. They fall short here and employers take note. It makes them appear that they might be listing false accomplishments on their resume. One of the biggest factors in getting hired is understanding your personal value to your employer and how you contribute. Those candidates that do know their true value will get hired much faster than those who don’t.

      I also think your Dress for Success program sounds great! Gave me an idea for local assistance with folks in my area.

      Thanks for sharing all your great information. Glad, too, that you found the blog worthwhile. Always appreciate feedback from a resume colleague.

  2. Janine Finnell February 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    Linda, I second the motion put forth by Adrian that you write a separate article that expands on the topics that you raised in the paragraph on “Do You Add Value?” Your insights really resonated with me, were very well articulated, and helped me in thinking in more tangible terms about the value that I bring to my employer. For example, I really liked what you said about people who are progressive and aware of current technologies. I was able to identify with that statement as someone who has been becoming more involved in social media technologies. In fact, I was so proud of myself because I recently sent out a Tweet in the Spanish language (which I am studying!) Thanks, Janine.

    • Linda A. Hamilton February 4, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

      Thank you Janine. I am developing a series of blog posts that will cover such topics, which I will begin posting very soon. You bring up some excellent points and from my work I’ve met many job searchers who are struggling with to find employment opportunities that bridge the gaps of age and progressive thinking. Watch for upcoming blog posts and sign up to be automatically notified when new posts will appear.

      All the best!