There are certain parts of the interview process that people overly obsess over and spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on. The irony is that these items are not that terribly important to hiring managers and recruiters. I feel sorry that so many people are needlessly wasting their valuable time and energy on relatively unimportant stuff.
For instance, job seekers get completely preoccupied with what type of font to use on their résumé and agonize over how many pages long it should be.
“Is it one or two? Which is the best way to go?”
“I have 20-plus years of experience and I need at least three pages! What should I do?”
“Can it be more than two pages? Will they think I’m too old and disregard it if it is too long?”
“What type of format is contemporary?”
They will write the résumé and then rewrite it about 10 more times. Job seekers will pay a lot of money out of pocket for résumé-writing experts. They’ll bring it to family and friends for second, third or fourth opinions, only to have their résumé appear differently on every computer screen or mobile device. Your exhaustive efforts to find the perfect one-page document turns into three-plus pages on a hiring manager’s smartphone.
The reality is that the vast majority of hiring managers and recruiters don’t particularly care about these kind of trivial things. The only thing that truly matters to them is that you are able to clearly and concisely convey what you do and that your skills and background experience closely match the job requirements.
Another area where people become overly worried and paranoid is preparing questions for when the inevitable “Do you have any questions for me?” question arises. It seems that people tend to focus more on thinking about the questions to ask at the end of the interview rather than focusing on the interview itself. All the while the interview is going on, they are trying to think, “What questions should I ask to show that I am interested?” This stress takes applicants out of the moment. They are so worried about having a question or two to ask at the end that they can barely focus on the actual interview.
The simple solution that I advise people to do is to treat the interview as a conversation. When you have legitimate questions during the interview, just ask them in that moment. It’s much more organic, feels natural and takes away the pressure of having to ask them at the end. Assuming that during the course of the lengthy interview, you ask half-a-dozen questions, when the time comes at the end of the interview and you don’t have any, you can simply say, “Thank you for answering all of my questions. You gave me a great understanding of the opportunity. I think you were very generous in answering all my questions and concerns.”
Once candidates have completed an interview round, they are often very unsure about what to do about follow-up thank-you emails.
“Do I send a handwritten note?”
“Should I send it the same day or a day later?”
“Am I supposed to write a lengthy note to express my full gratitude?”
“Could I use this time to better answer the questions that I botched in the interview or elaborate on a few points that I didn’t have enough time to fully flesh out?”
Candidates anguish over whether this note will influence if they receive an offer or not. The simple solution is to send a short and concise thank-you email, either the day of the interview or a day later, to express your interest and make sure that you stay fresh in their minds. If you space out and forget, don’t distress. Sometimes it is helpful to wait a few more days to remind them of your interview. It doesn’t have to be anything Shakespearean or fancy. Keeping it short and sweet takes the stress out of writing the email because you don’t have to torture yourself unnecessarily worrying about spelling, typos or grammar.
The dress code for interviews has changed dramatically over the years. In the past, it was de rigueur for a person to wear a very conservative dark blue suit, white shirt, solid tie and shiny black shoes for men and the corporate power suit for women. Now, things are very different. Tech and startup companies are polar opposites when it comes to their dress-code expectations. The first thing that I would suggest is for you to wear what you feel most comfortable in. Interviews are stressful enough. If you don’t feel comfortable in what you’re wearing, it will adversely impact your interview style. If you are not uptight with your attire, I would make sure that you match your wardrobe to the type of company that you are interviewing with. For instance, if it is a new, cutting-edge, tech-oriented place, it might be acceptable to wear jeans. Whereas, if you are interviewing at a stuffy bank, it might make sense for you to pull out your conservative blue suit. Also,dress slightly above the role you are trying to achieve, so that you stand out a cut above the rest.
The one thing that you should really focus on is to making sure that you are submitting your résumé for a position that you have the right background, experience and educational level required by the job description. Before the interview, conduct your due diligence to ensure that you are fully aware of and understand what the role calls for, the corporate culture, backgrounds of the interviewers and be able to enthusiastically present yourself to perfectly match the type of person they are looking for. This will significantly improve your chances of getting the job. This last aspect is the most important because that is the benchmark for how they will gauge your suitability. When deliberating if someone is the right fit, the hiring manager will contemplate if the candidate is going to come in and make his or her life easier and do what they are supposed to, as opposed to what font is on the résumé. Don’t worry about the other small stuff, as this is what you should spend most of your time perfecting to attain the job.