- There was lots of eye contact.
- They exhibited loads of energy and enthusiasm,
- And best of all, each one of them provided plenty of examples to back up their experiences and qualifications for the job.
I’m so proud of all their hard work and perseverence. And it got me to thinking that just as ex-offenders face some standard stumbling blocks, there are some basic ways to ace the interview:
4. Keep it brief . An interview isn’t the time for drawn out confessions. If you’re asked about your criminal record, it’s okay to answer this question simply and move on. There’s no need to go into detail about specific charges unless you’re asked. What’s important is that you look the person in the eye and acknowledge your mistake. Then you can quickly move on to what you’ve learned, how youv’e changed and how you’re working to turn your life around. Mention any positive steps you’ve taken while serving your sentence. For example: “Yes. At the time of my crime, my thinking was distorted by drugs. I realize I caused a lot of people pain and regret that. But since then I’ve gone to rehab and managed to stay clean. I’ve also completed my GED and taken a course in computers to better prepare myself for the job market so that I can become a productive member of society”….. Remember less is usually more. Chatty job applicants often lose out on jobs because they volunteer too much information. So take a deep breath and don’t rush to fill every silence. Avoid negatives, long explanations and getting too comfortable. Instead, keep your comments short, well-thought out and to the point.
5. Back it up. As noted above, bring examples to support any assertions you make about your accomplishments or experiences. One former student of mine was looking for a job in sales. But when she got an interview, she didn’t just say she was good in sales, she was able to back it up with evidence — she was the #1 sales person at the store where she worked. You should have similar examples for every question you might be asked, even if you have to write them down so you don’t forget. What was your biggest accomplishment? Can you give an example of a time you’ve shown initiative or resolved a problem on the job? Everyone has had successes. Make sure you’re able to explain and get credit for yours.
6. Close strong. Interviewers typically end the interview by asking if you have any questions. The only acceptable answer is YES. This is where you get a chance to show that you’re curious and have researched the company. Almost any question is good here, though you should probably save the questions about pay and benefits for after you’re given a job offer. Some good examples: What happened to the last person who had this job? What kind of training and advancement opportunities are typical for this position? How soon do you expect to fill this position? After your questions have been answered, it is a good time to reiterate your strengths and interest in the job and why you would be the best person to meet the employers needs. I’ll cover some approaches to this pitch in a future post.