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Don’t fidget in your interview, and you’re already halfway there.

6 minute read

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If you’re looking for a job, there’s no better time than the present.

According to job site CareerBuilder, 40 percent of employers are looking to hire full-time employees in 2019, and 47 percent are looking for part-time workers too. [1] They even project that 8 million more jobs will be added to the market by 2023. [2]

“Most employers remain confident in their outlook for financial growth and plans for hiring,” says Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. “Job seekers stand to benefit not only from having more options, but also from the growing intensity in the competition for talent.”

But there are the keywords: competition for talent. You’re not the only one looking for a job. However, there are a few ways to set yourself apart from other candidates — and they’re not too hard to pull off. If you do the right research, draft up the right resume, and practice the right body language for your interview, you’re better off than most.

1. Research can put you ahead of the game

If you don’t research before hopping into the application process, you’re wasting your time.

Thirty-five percent of employers specifically look for candidates that know a thing or two about the industry and their company’s competitors, according to CareerBuilder. [3] But 27 percent of employers think that the most common mistake job seekers make is not seeking this information out, a survey from staffing firm Accountemps found. [4]

There are seven key things to look up if you want to be fully prepared, according to job site Glassdoor: [5]

  1. The skills and experience the company values — What does the company look for in a candidate? You can browse their website and job postings, or ask current employees on social media.
  2. The company’s key players — Who is the CEO? Who is in charge of each department? All it takes is a quick look at the company’s “about” page or employee bios to find out.
  3. Current news coverage or recent events concerning the company — What have they been up to recently? Most companies have a web page dedicated to news coverage of their organization, but you can Google their name and click the “news” tab for a non-curated look.
  4. The company’s culture, mission, and values — Why does the company exist? How do they operate? This information will typically be on their website or social media networks, but you can ask employees for their take on it, too.
  5. The company’s clients, products, and services — Who does the company exist to serve? What do they offer? The company’s website will again be a good resource to find this out, along with news stories or government reports.
  6. The inside scoop — Every company projects a positive image, but are they telling the truth? Sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, [6] and Vault [7] have company reviews that reveal typical salaries, job duties, pros and cons of the organization, and more.
  7. The person interviewing you — If you make it past the resume stage, who will be interviewing you? The company may tell you right off the bat, but if they don’t, you can ask. Look for this person’s bio on the website, or find them on social media to discover their background, position, and interests.

A healthy dose of Google can help you figure out if the job is a good fit and set you up for a successful interview if you decide it is. But you have to be thorough — about 50 percent of workers have quit a job within six months after realizing that it wasn’t right for them, according to CareerBuilder, when a better look at the company possibly could have prevented this at the front end.

2. A good resume is brief, clean, and to-the-point

When you decide that the job is worth a shot, the next step is to build your resume — and employers are finicky about what’s on them. One wrong move could send your laminated paper to the trash pile, especially if it comes down to you and another candidate.

According to job advice site Career Sidekick, a resume should have: [8]

  • Your name and contact info
  • A “summary paragraph,” or short description of your qualifications and achievements
  • Your employment history
  • Your work skills
  • Your education

You can also put your community involvement or awards and achievements on it, but those aren’t typically required.

“Employers are looking for job candidates who provide the ‘wow factor’ and can immediately demonstrate the value they bring,” says Bill Driscoll, district president for Accountemps. “Sending a generic resume or showing up for the interview unprepared tells the hiring manager that the applicant has little interest in being hired.”

There are a thousand ways to organize your resume, but that’s up to you — just make sure it doesn’t exceed a page, as Debt.com previously reported. However, there are three hard and fast rules you should stick to when crafting your resume:

  1. Don’t add irrelevant information to application materials — Remember that experience speaks for itself! Showcase how much your work has paid off in your positions over the years. Talk about your accomplishments and stay away from reiterating job duties they already know about.
  2. Don’t skip proofreading — Read. Read again. Read a third time, and if you aren’t sure, ask a friend to read it over twice. Just one or two typos can mean your resume or cover letter gets tossed out, even if you are the most qualified candidate.
  3. Don’t lie — Whether it’s now or another time in the future, managers will always catch you in a lie. Be honest and stay away from fabricating your experience.

3. Body language is key during interviews

If your resume looks good to an employer, they’ll likely invite you over for an interview. This is the make-it or break-it moment — and it doesn’t take long to do either one.

Half of hiring managers said they know within the first five minutes whether you’re a good fit for the job, and 90 percent said they know within 15 minutes, according to a CareerBuilder survey. [9]

“There’s a lot riding on an interview,” says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “You have to make a great first impression, have knowledge of your target company and its product, and know exactly how to convey that you’re the perfect fit for the job. Going in well-prepared is key.”

And what you do with your hands may count as much as what comes out of your mouth.

Nonverbal cues are one of the main reasons bosses don’t hire potential applicants, previous survey research from CareerBuilder found. [10] Here are the 10 biggest nonverbal cues hiring managers pay attention to in an interview, according to the poll:

  • Failure to make eye contact: 68 percent
  • Failure to smile: 38 percent
  • Playing with something on the table: 36 percent
  • Fidgeting too much in his/her seat: 32 percent
  • Bad posture: 31 percent
  • Crossing their arms over their chest: 31 percent
  • Playing with hair or touching one’s face: 26 percent
  • A handshake that is too weak: 22 percent
  • Using too many hand gestures: 13 percent
  • Handshake is too strong: 8 percent

At least 30 percent of job applicants display poor body language, says a study of 300 U.S. managers from staffing firm OfficeTeam. [11]

“Providing thoughtful responses and asking intelligent questions carry a lot of weight during a job interview, but your body language can also speak volumes,” says Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam. “Candidates need to do everything they can to increase their chances of receiving an offer — and that includes avoiding negative and distracting nonverbal behaviors.”

But thankfully, there are a few ways to reduce your chances of fidgeting in your seat.

1. Research and rehearse

As we mentioned before, you should never even step foot into an interview without knowing exactly what kind of job you are applying for, the size and scope of the company, and basic knowledge of how the company works.

Once you do your homework, rehearse that information out loud, repeatedly. Then make up your “elevator pitch,” that 30-second spiel that should answer the guaranteed prompt to “tell me a little bit about yourself.”

2. Find a practice partner

You can practice in front of a mirror and watch your body language, but that only gets you so far. Ideally, find a friend or family member willing to help you practice.

You should rehearse your elevator pitch and have them ask you tough questions — not just the standard “What’s your greatest weakness?” — so that you can practice thinking quickly on your feet. Ask for feedback about any unconscious body language that could come across as nervous, fidgety, or defiant.

3. Take a deep breath

If you’re focused too much on forcing your hands not to shake or wander, it subtracts brainpower from the task at hand, which is getting through an interview and making a good impression of yourself.

Lacing your fingers together or keeping your hands in your lap may help some people, but do whatever you need beforehand — drink a green tea, do some yoga, take a drive, go on a run — to make sure you’ll be relaxed during the actual interview.

Just don’t be late — because then they won’t even need five minutes to judge you.

Hope Dean contributed to this report.

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About the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn

Zinn is a freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Published by Debt.com, LLC Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: 3 Simple Steps to Getting Hired - AMP.