Despite Georgia’s more than 10 percent unemployment rate, there are jobs available for those who know how to play the interviewing game, said human resources expert Adrienne Brealond. She conducted “Interviewing Skills,” a workshop sponsored by the Involvement/Relationship Team at Bouldercrest Church of Christ April 3.
Brealond, who has more than 24 years of experience in corporate management, including human resources, said, “The interview is a game and you’ve got to play it better than the other people out there. I interview people every day, and it saddens me to see people do not know how to dress or what to say,” she explained.
The elimination process starts before the interview, however–with resumes.
“I first look to eliminate those with typos,” she began. “Then I eliminate those resumes that are five pages or more. Next, I look to eliminate those applicants with multiple, short-term jobs in unrelated fields. I look for resumes that are concise and focused.”
Brealond also cautions those using resume templates to delete the template prompts from the final draft.
Practice, prepare and perform are the three words Brealond uses to underscore the work to be done before the interview.
Preparing for an interview is similar to rehearsing to go onstage, she said. Research the company, know the product or service and the name of the company’s CEO. Prepare your attire, and make sure your resume is ready.
Anticipate frequently asked questions, she advises. “No one needs to know if you’re married, have kids, or your age,” Brealond explained. “When asked to tell about yourself, don’t stall. Rehearse what you’ll say. Don’t say: ‘I’m a people person’ or ‘I’m a team player.’ Tell about specific examples when you demonstrated being a team player or a people person.”
She noted that interviewers take notice of punctuality and preparation when meeting job seekers.
“If your resume got you in the door, you are there to sell your experience,” Brealond said. “What you need to know is when you walk into the lobby, they’re looking. Come early and with your own pen.”
The interview is the time to sell yourself, Brealond continued. She advises: Have a firm handshake. Maintain eye contact. Speak loud enough to be heard and speak clearly. Do not slouch. Be confident, but not cocky. Be honest and enthusiastic.
“Do not become familiar with the interviewer,” Brealond warned. “Don’t make comments like, ‘Girl, where did you get your hair done?’ or ‘Girl, I like your nails.’ Churchgoers should not say such things to the interviewer as, ‘Jesus sent me here today.’”
Interviewers use various techniques to elicit responses. There may be a “poker face interviewer,” or you may be asked “behavioral questions.”
“The ‘poker face’ interviewer wants to see if you will shut down or continue with your enthusiasm,” Brealond said. “This gives them some idea how you will react in job situations where you will have to maintain yourself.
“Behavioral interviewing seeks indications of how you respond in various situations,” Brealond explained. “Behavioral questions have different objectives, such as, ‘Tell me about a time when…,’ or ‘give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.’ Or, you may be asked: ‘Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with an upset customer or coworker.’”
Carefully and honestly address being fired or having a felony conviction.
“Don’t lie about being convicted of a felony,” Brealond emphasized. “Be honest. Answer yes, and explain that you were ticketed and note that you will speak more about it in the interview.
“If you were terminated by an employer, don’t say ‘I did my job to the best of my ability.’ Instead, say ‘I did my job.’ Give examples of your work habits and remain poised.”
There is still work to be done after the interview, Brealond added. Keep a log of interviews for future references. Know the person’s name who interviewed you. Send a thank- you note. For this, e-mails are acceptable, and written notes stand out. Finally, Brealond said, if you interview on Friday, don’t call back for a decision on Monday, then again on Tuesday and Wednesday of the following week.
“Interviews are decisive,” Brealond said. “The decisions are made early, and you have to network and present yourself. Become a salesperson for ‘You, Inc.’”