Recently I received a resume from someone who had just earned a master’s degree from a reputable local school. In addition to an impressive educational background, she had strong experience working in her family’s business and as an intern with several established firms. On the basis of her resume, she appeared to be a leading candidate for an open position at one of my Silicon Valley client companies. I scheduled a phone interview with her, excited about our upcoming conversation.
As good as the applicant’s resume was, her interviewing skills were almost non-existent. She was awkward and had difficulty answering my questions in an articulate manner. Worst of all, she was completely unprepared for our conversation. When I asked her what she found appealing about the specific position for which she had applied, she responded, “I don’t know. I applied for a lot of jobs.” She had not done any research on the client company prior to speaking with me, did not bother to look up the ad to which she responded and she seemed abrupt and aloof throughout the call.
Unfortunately my experience with this applicant was not unique. On a regular basis, I am shocked by the way in which Millennials–especially recent graduates–conduct themselves during the screening and interview process. It truly seems as if growing up with constant access to computers and connected technology has come at the price of etiquette and common courtesy. Here are some tips and suggestions for Millennial job seekers who are looking to make a great impression and stand out from the crowd.
Be Sincere and Respectful
Understand that every interaction with a recruiter or prospective employer represents multiple opportunities with respect to professional future. Even if a particular job posting pans out, the manager or recruiter may have feedback or insight to further inform your job search. Demonstrate respect for the other person’s time by being punctual for appointments and calls. Be genuinely appreciative of their time, and communicate that in a gracious manner. Respect the English language by crafting your e-mail messages thoughtfully and politely, using complete sentences. Emojis are appropriate for IMing and texting with your friends, but they are a distraction in the professional world and detract from your professional image.
It is disrespectful to ignore voicemails. As a rule, return all calls by the next business day, and listen to your messages before returning calls. It can be very frustrating when a person takes the time to provide you detailed information in a voicemail, only to have to repeat that when you call back and say, “I saw that you called. What’s up?” When leaving voicemails, limit your message to no more than 60 seconds if possible. Clearly state your name and callback number at the beginning and end of the message.
Prepare Thoroughly for Every Interview
At one time, the following items were almost universally understood and practiced, but today they are less common. Following these practices will help distinguish you from your peers!
-Always have a copy of your resume and the job description with you when interviewing. This will let you refer back and forth between the two when answering questions.
-Prior to an interview, perform background research on the company. Another candidate in a phone call admitted, “I don’t research the companies I apply for because it is a waste of time considering you may not hear back from them.” I cannot stress enough, prior to a phone interview or any onsite interview, visit their website. Search news sites and press releases for recent coverage. Establish a preliminary understanding of their industry is possible. All of these things will enable you to provide knowledgeable answers and engage in intelligent conversation with the interviewer. Additional best practices for phone interviews may be found here.
-Prepare a list of three to five questions that you can ask the interviewer. There are many online examples of suitable questions to ask. Select ones that are of genuine interest to you and will help inform you as to whether the company and position are a good match for your strengths and personality.
Mambo Media Blog features an excellent article on business etiquette for Millennials. Bibliophiles are encouraged to read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” a classic personal development book with timeless wisdom for treating people with dignity and kindness.