Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How to Fail A Job Interview

I'm flying out to another work project. The woman in the seat behind me is gabbing loudly on her cell phone. Before I can get too upset at her verbal invasion of my space, I realize she is an interviewer. She is telling her BFF about this horrible interview she just conducted. I thought I’d tell you what this guy did… DON’T DO what he did!!

  1. He showed up to the interview in wrinkly clothes and smelled bad. 
  2. He was visibly nervous shaking and sweating. She couldn’t stand to smell or look at him, and almost canceled the interview. I didn’t hear why she continued… but she did. 
  3. She asked to see his resume and he couldn’t find it- was fumbling, dropping stuff, digging through papers trying to find it. Finally gave it to her in half crumpled b/c he was so stressed out. I don’t understand why she asked this- she should already have it- but the bottom line is, he appeared unprepared. 
  4.  He stumbled and stuttered over her questions. 
  5. When he realized she wasn’t going to hire him, he pleaded with her to give him a chance. 

What can we learn from this?

  1. Sometimes it hurts, but looks matter! Dress appropriately for the job in clean, wrinkle-free clothes and make sure you are freshly groomed. EVEN if *YOU* don’t think it’s important, it I*IS* important to most other people that you. So shower, apply cologne if you need it, make sure your hair is done (to *THEIR* standards, not necessarily *YOURS*), brush your teeth, add makeup if you need it, trim/shave if you appear unkempt, and if your hair is shaggy get a haircut. Learn to smile naturally. This takes practice, especially for folks on the spectrum who’ve never realized they were constantly frowning. 
  2. If you get nervous, find ways to PRACTICE talking in stressful situations. Being on the spectrum is often accompanied by extreme anxiety at new situations. A job interview can be really, REALLY stressful. You know that once you learn how to do the job you’ll be great at it. But the interviewer doesn’t know that. All s/he sees is someone who may be too anxious to perform needed job tasks. You can practice interviewing with friends, or even join a formal organization geared towards helping people speaking on-the-spot. Toastmasters is one such organization that’s helped me improve both my written speeches and no-notice impromptu talks. If you don’t have time or access to a Toastmasters meeting, or if you feel uncomfortable asking friends/family to help you practice, and you can also practice making small talk with strangers in the store. It’s not an interview, but it’s stressful enough to help you overcome nervousness. Another great resource that helped me is an audio called “How to make your point in 30 seconds or less.” 
  3. Be prepared. Have all your paperwork in easy to find manner- whatever works for you. Some people use folders with pockets, padfolios with multiple folder pockets, 3-ring binders with tabs for each entry. Some good things to have are your resume, any articles/accomplishments you’ve had, quick notes about the company and/or the person doing the interview. The key is to make it quick. You don’t want 20 pages on every award you won in elementary and high school. Under pressure you won’t be able to find what you need to show the interviewer that you are the best fit for the job. 
  4. This goes in hand with #2. Prepare! There are interview websites that list all kinds of crazy interview questions. If you don’t have a friend who can help quiz you, then use these websites to generate your own bank of questions to practice with. This is especially important for people on the spectrum with “experienced” based memories that will help you if you have at least practiced answering the question at least once. Similarly, many people with this type of memory freeze up and panic when hit with an awkward question catches them by surprise. The more you practice, the better able you will be to draw from your memory of closely related questions and answer with calm clarity. 
  5. Do not beg the interviewer. If you have to beg, you’ve probably lost your chance at the job. If you know you didn’t do well at the interview, but this really is the job for you, try your best to calm down and explain (in 30 seconds or less) why you are a good fit for the job. Remember, the 2 most important things an interviewer is evaluating are 1) your ability to do the job and 2) your ability to fit in with the company’s culture (that is, get along with your coworkers). 

Sometimes being able to get along with your coworkers is even more important than how well you can do the job so make sure to smile and above all, show the interviewer that hiring you will not only profit the company, but make him/her look good as the person who selected you. After reading my little notes, I hope you’ll be the kind of person that causes an interviewer to rave about how she was blown away during your interview!! If you have a job interview coming up, I do hope you’ll let me know how it goes.