NOTE: This was originally published on my other blog on 26-05-15. I am transferring everything I can, with intent to shut down my other blog.
This handy series of diagrams shows very clearly the best ways to behave to get a job (takes you off site) and what interviewers are looking for. Graphs with flatlines show probability of getting hired after doing particular things e.g. arriving late, turning up naked.
This second article is aimed at journalists (also takes you off site) but there’s loads of really good advice that often gets overlooked by job applicants in all industries.
Here’s my personal way to get a job (and I’m really good at getting jobs, just not keeping them), obviously just use the ones that apply to your situation because these are only from my experience as both an interviewee and interviewer:
1. Make sure your CV is up to date.
2. Take the time to write a good covering letter. I write a fresh one for each new job application. If words don’t come naturally to you, maybe make a template but make sure it’s not impersonal when you send it out.
3. Answer the phone when they call you. Don’t ask them to call you back – they will move on to the next candidate. I lost 2 job leads through this, because they had called at times I’d said I wasn’t available in my covering letter (their loss).
4. Pray a lot. I know this isn’t really a technique or anything but I find it helps especially with calming my anxiety, when I pray, then relinquish all control over the situation to God. My aim is to take responsibility for my actions but not control of the outcome because that leads to frustration and stress when I try to control something that I can’t control. We can’t control other people.
5. For a non-professional level job (such as office assistant, shop assistant, pharmacy assistant, call centre work), Turn up to the interview in: Black trousers, black shoes and socks, and some sort of smart top such as a shirt or blouse. If it’s cold, a jumper or jacket, if it’s warm, just the shirt. If you’ve been told otherwise, for example by the recruitment agency that sent you for interview, then do what they say, they will know that specific company better, and this advice is general.
6. For the professional level job (such as teacher, doctor, accountant, engineer, secretarial), turn up in a suit that matches and doesn’t have any holes, bobbles, stains or loose threads. You want to look well kempt and … well … professional. Secretarial (as in, personal secretary, legal or medical secretary) work requires this same standard because you will be expected to hit the same standards at interview as the people who you secretary for. The same generally goes for accounts assistant. Please don’t wear any old crap to a professional interview, you’ve ruined your chances of getting a job before you’ve even signed in at reception. I once went to two interviews alongside another teacher, we were both going for the same schools. She got sent away from both. She was wearing what looked like painting overalls. She got really angry at the second one and was blaming the school and saying that it was age discrimination. Reality check: Being over 50 and experienced in your job doesn’t exempt you from dressing up at interview.
7. Hair and makeup: Neutral make up and hair should be tidy. For me with my very frizzy hair, this usually means dragging it into a pony tail or bun unless I can be bothered to straighten it. NEVER use a curling tong or curlers to do interview hair, unless you’re going for a job in adult modeling. Likewise with bright make up, even if it’s on trend and you think it looks amazing. Interviewers tend to be a particular age group and they tend not to care for trends. Even make-up counter jobs want neutral makeup at interview – I went for an interview with Clarins and another girl got rejected because she literally looked like she’d been playing in a paint palette with gaudy brightly coloured make up and yellow nail varnish. I wore neutral, I made it to the end of the interview. As for nail varnish, clear, or a natural looking colour such as pale pink or peach, or don’t bother at all. If it’s chipped, take it off.
8. Tissues: Have some in your pocket or bag. There’s nothing worse than asking an interviewer for a tissue if hayfever or dust allergy or other runny nose attacks while you’re trying to answer a question.
9. Answer questions honestly, but not bluntly. For example, they sometimes ask, “why do you want this job?” You wouldn’t say “cos I need money, obviously” but you might say, “I am looking for work because I have bills to pay. I chose to apply for this job specifically because I liked the … [say something nice about the company drawing on the research you did before you came to the interview]” This question is really an opportunity to show that you want to work here. They’re under no obligation to hire you just because you need to get your electricity re-connected.
10. Try to learn from it. It’s really hard to take feedback, especially if you’re in an anxious place, but you need to close your eyes and rip the plaster off because otherwise you won’t know if there’s something really obvious and little that you could change that would enable you to get a job in the future. I once refused to leave an interview room until someone told me why I was being sent home (obviously that put me on the list of DEFINITELY not getting hired, but they had no intention of hiring me anyway), and I found out it was because my degree was a BA not a BSc, and they didn’t think the parents would be happy if their children were being taught science by a trained science teacher with a BA. I’d literally only been brought to interview to make the preferred candidate look good, but I’d done better than expected so they were now sending me home. This happens a lot in teaching, which is pretty illustrative of why it can be a very crappy job in the UK. But my point is, it wasn’t me who was the problem, and I went away not feeling inadequate in the slightest because I had not done anything wrong in my observed lesson or interview.
11. Apply for more than one job at once. Then when one doesn’t come back with anything, don’t wait for the others, apply for more, so you’ve always got something in the pipeline otherwise it’s easy to give up hope. I even apply for jobs that I don’t know if I’d like, and at times I’ve been surprised by how much fun they were when they were the jobs that I got hired for.
I will discuss the pros and cons of disclosing mental illness in a separate post because it’s a very big topic.