How is your job interview behaviour?

Do you ace your job interviews? Do you know what to do and what not to do during job interviews? A survey conducted by Harris Interactive in November/December 2013 among more than 2,000 hiring managers and HR professionals reveals common mistakes applicants make during job interviews and hilarious mistakes as well. So, keeping in mind that nearly 50% of employers will make their final decisions about you within 5 minutes after the interview started, here are a few lists and stats for you:

According to employers, the most common mistakes candidates make in interviews are:

  • Appearing disinterested (55%)
  • Dressing inappropriately (53%)
  • Appearing arrogant (53%)
  • Talking negatively about current or previous employers (50%)
  • Answering a cellphone or texting during the interview (49%)
  • Appearing uninformed about the company or role (39%)
  • Not providing specific examples (33&)
  • Not asking good questions (32%)
  • Providing too much personal information (20%)
  • Asking the hiring manager personal questions (17%)

Do not underestimate the importance of body language during job interviews. Communication is more than words, here is what annoys employers:

  • Failure to make eye contact (70%)
  • Failure to smile (44%)
  • Bad posture (35%)
  • Fidgeting too much in one’s seat (35%)
  • Playing with something on the table (29%)
  • Handshake that is too weak (27%)
  • Crossing one’s arms over one’s chest (24%)
  • Playing with one’s hair or touching one’s face (24%)
  • Using too many hand gestures (10%)
  • Handshake that is too strong (5%)

Now, to put a smile on your face, here are some sure ways to goof up your job interview. Remember, these are real life examples that were provided by employers during the Harris survey:

  • Applicant answered a phone call for an interview with a competitor
  • Applicant showed up in a jogging suit because he was going running after the interview
  • Applicant asked for a hug
  • Applicant informed interviewer that she “took too much valium” and didn’t think the interview was indicative of her personality
  • Applicant checked Facebook during the interview
  • Applicant popped out his teeths when discussing dental benefits
  • Applicant kept her iPod headphones on during the interview
  • Applicant said that he questioned his daugther’s paternity
  • Applicant asked for name and phone number of the receptionist because he really liked her

 

Do you think your resume or CV will be read by humans…….

…or by robots? Huh? Did you say robots? Yes, I did. Let me explain: Recruitment agencies and companies use software often called ATS or Applicant Tracking Software. Programs like Taleo, Kenexa, PeopleSoft and others. To support recruiters and staffing people, this software performs a lot of tasks for them. One of them is that a modern ATS has a built-in functionality to parse (or read) your CV or resume. I would say that about half of all organizations (and a majority of large organizations) use ATS’s to pre-qualify or screen applicants making the lives of recruiters easier. So, it is important for you to be prepared and optimize your resume or CV to get past the ATS. Here are some do’s and dont’s to think about when you prepare your resume for an ATS:

Don’t:

  • use creative formatting to make your resume look nice, an ATS can choke on it
  • use pictures, logos or other graphics, an ATS has no eyes
  • send your resume as a PDF, not all ATS’s can handle that
  • use non-standard fonts
  • insert information in tables in your resume

Do:

  • use standard fonts like Tahoma, Verdana, Arial
  • make sure that your resume is rich in keywords to match the job description
  • use bulleted lists of your qualifications and skills
  • spell check your resume and use appropriate punctuation
  • include your contact information near the top of the page

Make sure your resume or CV is organized in neat sections with proper headings. It is best not to use header and/or footer in an ATS version of your resume or CV. Also, check for abbreviations, to be safe it is best not to use them but to spell out words, ATS’s can be a little limited in vocabulary and may not understand abbreviations that you use. When you need to do cutting & pasting, have an ASCII version of your resume ready to prevent nasty things happening to your formatting. If you can, upload your resume or CV. Bear in mind that an ATS analyzed keywords, titles etc. to assess your experience. These systems are capable of rejecting the majority of candidates that do not meet the requirements. 

Finally

Is this good or is it bad? Well, both. It is good because it helps the staffing folks speed up the processing of applications. It is good because you as an applicant, can include more information in preparing an ATS-friendly resume to help you stand out from the competition because an ATS doesn’t care about the lenght of your resume. It is bad because ATS’s can’t think the way humans can, it’s a bit like performing surgery on patients using garden tools. It is bad because hiring managers and recruiters will miss out on well qualified candidates because the robots have decided they didn’t make the cut.

Good luck battling the robots in landing your next job!

Is your resume packed with hollow phrases?

Many job postings (still) list personal qualifications to such extent that it is hard to believe that there are actually people out there that are a 100% match. To qualify for even the simplest entry-level jobs, we need to be detail-oriented, goal-oriented, ambitious, competent, determined, well-organized and creative. Right? So, it is understandable that many resumes and CV’s advertise many of these wonderful attributes. Nowadays, that is pretty much old school because many employers no longer pay attention to these subjective criteria and hollow phrases. So, if you are an “Engaging and goal-oriented personality with high drive” and you possess a “can-do mentality” and you are a “strong, people-oriented relationship builder”…you run the risk of having your resume rejected. There is nothing wrong with including your strongest skills in your resume but rather than “bluntly” stating them, provide examples from your professional experience that illustrate and prove them. That way you can convince hiring managers because you are showing your skills.

About the length of your CV or resume

Although there doesn’t seem to be a general opinion about the length of your resume or CV, my advice is to keep it as short as possible. (exception to this rule is, for instance in the USA, when a full length CV is called for Two, three pages tops should do it. There is no need to provide detailed information about jobs you held a long time ago. Be brief about them. And scrutinize your resume or CV for information that can perhaps be removed. It will improve the readability.