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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Booyakasha! Today we's goin' to talk about interviewin'

Job interviews can be a lot like being on Da Ali G Show. You think you know what you are getting into and then the interviewer throws something in about drug-sniffing dogs and WMD and completely messes you up. Next thing you know, you are tripping all over yourself and your interview ends…and you do not have a job.

Ok, so maybe the drug and WMD talk is a bit of a stretch but you know what I’m getting at. Job interviews have a tendency to be stressful anyway (even when you think you are prepared) but can quickly go downhill if you aren’t acquainted with the ABC’s of interviewing.

There is no earthly reason why KForce should have hired me; I bombed not only one interview, but both of them. To be honest, I stumbled upon KForce on accident. I had just finished school and was working as a paralegal (for my ex-husband’s friend so I’m not even sure it counts as a j-o-b…) and I was beyond bored and didn’t really know what I wanted to with myself. I was a Forensic Science major in college (following my dream to be a deer when I grew up, I decided to be a medical examiner) but eventually decided that I did not want to work with dead people and bugs. I don’t think I am too high maintenance but that was still a little too gross for me at the end of the day. My buddy, Thomas (now in our Denver office), worked at KForce and for some reason, thought I’d be a good fit so he floated my resume over to the Director of the Tech team, where they had a few openings. Sounded good to me, I thought, though I really had no idea what KForce was and what the entire staffing industry was about. In fact, other than Thomas, the only other person I met in staffing was wildly obnoxious and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work with his “kind”. Besides, I was already obnoxious enough; I didn’t need any help in that department. A few days after Thomas gave my resume to my now old boss, I got a call from the KForce internal recruiter, Sean. Apparently, they were interested enough to interview me and we set a time for the following day.

I’d like to say that I rocked the phone screen, but that’d be a lie. I’m pretty sure I bored the living hell out of Sean. We talked about running for a few minutes (good job getting me to warm up to you, Sean) and then he asked me, “So why do you want to get into staffing?”

“Ummmmmmm….” Why can’t you phone a friend on questions like this???? I thought to myself, “Because I want a job…” but I had enough sense (thank God for small miracles) not to say that. Instead I said something super lame and we chatted for a few more minutes and hung up. I was pretty sure KForce was going to shred my resume and I’d never be invited to join the world of the staffing elite.

And then, I got a second interview request and this time it was a face to face request with the two managers in the local Orlando office. I was as excited as a clueless 23 year old could be and started to do the natural thing…plan my outfit (not a suit, by the way, mistake number one…). The day of the interview rolled around and I did a little research, put on my most professional looking getup, and made the mistake of letting my ex-husband drive me to the interview…at the Bank of America building. He let me out on the curb (such a gentleman) at the BOA building and I quickly realized that KForce was nowhere to be found. My first thought was, “Boiler room, I knew it!!” and was quickly followed by, “Megan, you’re an idiot. You wrote down the wrong info.” I called The Force and realized that KForce was actually in the AmSouth building a couple of blocks down the road. Naturally, this would not have been the end of the world but…I was already five minutes late and it was insanely hot so I was guaranteed to show up sweaty and gross. Not so awesome. In any event, I hoofed it down the road, arrived 15 minutes late, visibly flustered.

Things did not get better. I was off my game (What game??? Who am I kidding???) and I had nothing to contribute. I had no questions to ask, I was horribly timid, and I didn’t know jack about technology. I thought I was almost done with the interview and I could go lick my wounds privately and then I was put to “the question”….

“So, Forensic Science?? What prompted that?”

Ok, how do I answer this and not sound like a complete freak????? Ah, I know.

“I wanted to be a coroner and I love crime scenes….”

WTF? Yeah, I really said that. There was a dead silence and then it got worse.

My interview eventually ended and I went home to fasten my noose. Then, I got a phone call and they wanted to hire me! Apparently, KForce was looking for a 23 year old flake that had not-so-secret dreams of working with dead people and I was the answer to their prayers. Never mind the fact that I was late, not in a suit, had nothing to contribute, didn’t engage the interviewer, was extremely boring, and had the communication skills of a four year old. They wanted to hire me!!!!

I accepted and rode off into the KForce sunset and for some reason, they have kept me around.

I lucked out BIG TIME (partially because I was an internal referral and partially because I was young and blonde) and they took a chance on me even though I sucked. Thank goodness they did because I can’t imagine doing anything else (and I’m not just saying that because “Big Brother” might be reading this). I will never leave this place unless my desk is packed up for me (please do not get any ideas, boss man) and during the course of my KForce dog years, I have learned a thing or two about interviewing.

Here is my top ten list of interviewing tips for a successful (or at the very least, less crappy) interview:

1)Don’t dress like a fool. Suits, suits, suits. I know some of you might disagree with me, but for an interview, wearing a suit is a must. You can wear your short shorts and flip flops when you have the job and they say it is ok…and not until then. And when I say “suit”, I mean a dark suit. Everyone wants to express themselves and get creative, but an interview is not the time.
2)Research the company. Know what they do. Be prepared to talk about what they do and why it appeals to you. Also know a little about the people that will be interviewing you.
3)Have a list of questions prepared for the interviewer. Even though “Ummmm” and “I don’t know” worked for me, it probably won’t work for you. Hell, it barely worked for me…and I’m a cute girl.
4)Write down a list of questions you think they will ask you and practice your answers beforehand…so when they ask about WMD you’ll be ready for it.
5)Be engaging. Don’t yawn. Don’t act disinterested. At the same time, don’t get overly emotional. Stay cool, calm, and collected always.
6)If you want the job, say so. If they say, “No”, storm out. Kidding.
7)Be on time. No, scratch that. Be a little early….but leave the tent and sleeping bag at home.
8)Do a drive-by the night before. Know where you are going so you aren’t cursing the day MapQuest was born the day of your interview.
9)If you are asked to provide work samples, make sure they are good. Framed pictures of unicorns need not apply. (And yes, the unicorn really happened…and no, the guy did not get the job.)
10)Say, "I don't know." If you are asked a question you do not know the answer to, admit that instead of beating around the bush…but be prepared to talk about what you would do to find the answer.


Anonymous said...

I agree with the comment on the suit. When I graduated from UCF my first job was at Cendant Timeshare Resort Group. I didn’t really like the group that I worked in so I started looking for a new job. While I was employed at Cendant I had the fortunate opportunity to interact with some of the other groups managers. One day we ended up on a conversation about interviews. One of the managers stated that they will NOT hire a person if they do not show up wearing a suit. After that day, I ended up with an interview at Lockheed Martin. As soon as I knew that I had an interview I went out and bought a Black suit. I went to the interview, was early, wore the suit, and was prepared to talk about my knowledge of software development and the Software Development process. I was offered and I accepted the position and have been working for Lockheed Martin since 2005. I really enjoy working for this organization and I am glad that I bought the suit.

Anonymous said...

Wow... EVERYTHING you just said is dead on and I couldn’t agree more. You're truly gifted at give amazing advice and I love reading your blogs. Thanks for all the great information :)

Ryan Florio

Anonymous said...

Forensic science and effective recruiting are very similar (Aside from cadavers, rigormortis and formaldehyde), so I can see why you were a natural for the job...In both jobs you search for something less than obvious and draw educated conclusions that defy the obvious to find the truth. But, as a recruiter, you have to then take that truth and sell it to customers. I have been in the consulting industry for 20 years and cannot overstate the value of a good recruiter.


Anonymous said...

I disagree with the suit piece. I interviewed for an "Extra" position with the Orlando Chippendales and showed up ina suit. They laughes at me and demanded that I strip off my suit. When I was down to my skibbies I danced and danced and danced and they gave me a job. I would have never gotten the job offer had I kept the suit on.

pagerwho said...

These are great tips and I really enjoy your style of writting. I have to whole-heartedly agree with the comment about the suit. It is an absolute must and I believe that it says something about the respect you have for yourself. I would also offer this tip: bring at least one copy of your resume to your interview. If you know it will be a group interview bring a copy for each member of the group.

I also like that you say to drive by the place of the interview the night before. While Bing, Google, MapQuest may not have failed you yet, some day they will and just be prepared ahead of time so that it doesn't fail you on the day of your interview.