Young People Ask . . .
How Do I Handle a Job Interview?
“Scared! That’s how I felt at the job interview,” remembers Sal when he was trying to get his first job. “I was afraid of failure because I had no work experience.”
Is that how you feel about applying for a job? You are not alone with that feeling. Just thinking about the interview can make many people—young or old—break out in a cold sweat, especially if it is their first. And almost everyone employed has had a first job interview. But they survived, and so can you.
Young people are underemployed—true. There are fewer jobs than there are youths who want them—true. This means it is useless to try to get a job—FALSE! Beware of the feeling, ‘There is a lack of opportunity.’ Opportunity offers itself every day if you are willing to go ahead and look for it. You may need a full-time job due to personal obligations or you may want a part-time job. In either case you can be the one who passes the job interview and gets the job if you take the initiative. And initiative is one of the big things employers look for in future workers. You must take the first step.
Do not look at the obstacles on the road to a successful job interview as insurmountable. Rather, view them as obstacles to be hurdled. A Bible proverb offers this advice: “The way of the lazy one is like a brier hedge, but the path of the upright ones is a way cast up.” To the lazy any challenge is imagined as a “brier hedge” too prickly to handle. So nothing is done. But to the wise the road is “cast up,” or looks as smooth and wide as a superhighway with all stonelike obstacles cleared away. The wise are willing to move ahead and meet the challenge.—Proverbs 15:19.
Before You Go
Do you know what your strengths and weaknesses are? Be honest with yourself, because having a realistic view of your strong and weak points is part of the preparation needed for job hunting. This knowledge acts as a guard against becoming cocky and demanding. Mr. Cleveland P. Jones, a consultant who conducts job seminars, comments about an attitude found in many youths: “They want a job where they work as little as they can but make the most money possible. Yet in today’s world, that is just not done. They have to keep in mind that they are going to start at the bottom of the ladder.”
The right to move up to a better job must be earned. But first you must have a job. Then by performing your duties well and by gaining valuable on-the-job experience not only will your confidence grow but your employer’s confidence in you will grow too. Now you are ready to handle more responsibility.
Wanting a job is not enough. You must find out what the job requires and then prepare to meet those requirements. Balk at the employer’s every request and likely you will miss the opportunity for a better job. Those requirements act as a ruler for measuring your potential worth as an employee. “I have known of people being fired,” says Jones, “because they told their employers, ‘Well, if I can’t listen to my radio, I can’t work.’”
“Before going on a job interview, remember, first impressions are lasting impressions,” comments Jones. He cautions against wearing blue jeans and sneakers to an interview and stresses the need to be clean and neat. ‘But, I have the right to wear whatever I want to,’ some may say. The employer also has the right to hire anyone he wants to. He has the job, and you are the one looking for that job. Right or wrong, the employer may conclude that the way a person dresses is the way the person will work.
Therefore, it is usually safe to dress up for any job interview, whether for an office job or for a factory job. When applying for an office job, dress as a business person dresses. When applying for a factory job, dress with clean and pressed slacks and shirt and with neat-looking shoes. If you are a woman, dress modestly and use cosmetics sparingly. And if applying for an office job, wear hose and dress shoes to complement a conservative dress.
Is a résumé (a short written account of your qualifications) always needed? A résumé may not be necessary for many jobs, such as in a factory, but it often is for an office job.
During the Interview
When going on the interview, always go alone, cautions Mr. Jones. The employer wants to talk to you and hear your reasons for wanting the job, not your friend’s. If you bring your mother or friends with you to the interview, the employer may conclude that you are immature.
‘Suppose the employer asks me if I have had prior work experience, how do I answer?’ you may wonder. Do not bluff. “Be honest,” Sal says. “They can tell if you’re lying or faking it.”
If this will be your first job, even though you may not realize it you may have had some prior work experience. How so? Did you ever have a summer job? Or did you do baby-sitting? Or did you have a regular work assignment in your home caring for family chores? Were you given a responsibility to take care of certain duties at your place of worship? Have you ever had training in public speaking? If so, then these things could be mentioned at the interview or listed in your résumé to show that you can handle responsibility.
Another important concern of employers is how interested you are in their company and the job being offered. Therefore you must convince them that you want to do the work and can do it and that you want the chance to prove it. The “what’s-in-it-for-me” type of attitude will turn off the interviewer’s interest in you faster than a push-button switch. The interviewer is interested in what you can do for the company, not in what the company can do for you.
Applying for and getting a full- or part-time job is a challenge that you can meet successfully. And when that job is used as a tool to help others, not just yourself, satisfaction becomes a fringe benefit.
[Box on page 24]
SALVATORE JAMES JONES
123 Fourth Street, Apt. 321
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Telephone: (212) 989-4586
POSITION APPLYING FOR
Customer Service representative
High School Graduate—attended Brooklyn High School, Brooklyn, NY, from September 1978 to June 1982
Summer job stocking shelves at Green’s Food Market, Brooklyn, NY, July and August 1981
Delivered morning newspapers for the Brooklyn Times, September 1980 to June 1981
Attend 45-minute public speaking course each week
Give 5-minute speech every 6 weeks to audience of 95 at Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Brooklyn, NY from 1972 to present
Assist in weekly lawn and shrubbery maintenance at Kingdom Hall from 1980 to present
Samuel Green, manager of Green’s Food Market, 789 Spruce Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11201
John P. Shepherd, presiding minister, 456 Elm Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Mrs. Anna Temple, neighbor, 125 Fourth Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Weight: 150 pounds
Marital Status: Single
[Box on page 25]
What to Do During the Job Interview
● Be grown-up, businesslike. Greet employer with proper respect. Call him “Mr.”—not “Jack,” “Buddy” or “Pal.”
● Sit up straight in chair, feet firmly on floor; look alert. Advance planning will help you to be calm, poised and at ease.
● Think before answering a question. Be polite, accurate, honest and frank. Give full information. Do not brag.
● Have guide sheet with you of all your jobs, dates of work, your wages, kinds of work you did, reasons you left.
● Be ready to show how your training and work experience will help you to get ahead on job you are asking for.
● For references, give the names (and complete addresses) of three reliable people who know you and your work.
● Be confident, enthusiastic, but do not bluff. Use good English and speak distinctly. But do not talk too much.
● Listen carefully; be polite and tactful. Above all, do not get into any arguments with your prospective employer.
● The employer is interested only in how well you will fit the job. Do not mention personal, home or money problems.
● If it seems you will not get the job, seek employer’s advice about other jobs with the firm that may come up.
● Send employer brief thank-you letter immediately after interview.*
Source: New York State Employment Service Office brochure How to “Sell Yourself” to an Employer.