Remember when you were in elementary school and the teacher gave you a gold star or another treat for exhibiting a positive character trait? Now that you’ve gotten a bit more life experience, have you ever wondered why some people can’t seem to advance their career? They have all of the required qualifications for their dream job, plus some. So, it would seem as if they only have to show up for their interview appointment, wow the interviewers with their answers to a few questions, then walk away with a new job in short order…right?! Curiously, though, that is often not what happens? Why didn’t they get the job? The position seemed like it was made for them. Could it possibly be that they unwittingly did or said something that made the interviewers question their character? Maybe this has even happened to you and left you wondering the same thing. You may ask, “What is character?” Put simply, character is that vibe, positive or negative, that you exhibit to others as you interact with them. Since you want those around you to get a positive vibe. Know that during the selection process employers are not only assessing your education and experience as qualifications for the job, they’re also assessing your “fit” for their organizational culture. That includes their perception of your character. Well, the truth of the matter is that body language, facial expressions, and off-color comments, and the like can cause interviewers to perceive you in an unfavorable light. Finding yourself in this situation can deflate your hopes of landing your next big career opportunity. Take heart, though, and don’t you dare give up because you can turn things around. This is exactly why your interview preparation should not only involve mock interviewing sessions. It should also include practicing appropriate body language, including making eye contact; making small talk sans any inappropriate comments; avoiding unfavorable facial expressions, etc., so that interviewers will perceive you as a team player when it comes to the rules of effective interviewing. A few little tweaks, such as the ones suggested below, to your approach can make an awesome positive impact on the outcome of your next big interview. They include social media presence; written communication; interpersonal interactions; verbal communication; and resilience. Let’s take a closer look at each of these five:
Improve or Maintain a Positive Social Media Presence - By now, I’d dare say that most employers rely, to some extent, on candidate’ social media activity to make selection decisions. So, I can’t express to you enough, the importance of making certain that you have a positive social media presence. It is your brand. I think that most people are aware that many employers now use social media at some point in their selection process to identify their candidate of choice. So, just as treating everyone with respect in person is important, treating them with respect when interacting with them virtually is just as, or more important these days. This assessment does not stop at your direct interactions with other people. Your general online social posts are included as well. The world-wide-web makes our world very small. Someone could forward your post to others and you never Take it from me know who knows whom. I once ended up working for someone who had the same hairstylist as I did. If you develop a reputation of constantly posting profane-laced language in your online posts, your character quotient decreases greatly with each instance. If a potential employer came across any of them, it could cost you a job offer. The reason is that they have this engrained perception of you as an out-of-control colleague or manager who would resort to using profanity and other counter-productive behavior and language when interacting with employees. Is your “right” to free speech worth that loss. I had a dear friend who was in the ministry and she unfriended someone because of the content of their online posts. She felt that she could not be perceived as an endorser of the other person’s online behavior.
Written Communication – Your first written communication samples to your potential new employer are your resume and your cover letter. They are also the very first impression that the employer has of you. Consider that if your dream job requires a strong attention to detail…fair or not, employers will develop their perception of your character on the strength of these two documents. If your resume is not well-formatted, or if it or your cover letter contains a lot of typos, misspelled words, and/or bad grammar, employers will presume that you are lazy, take no pride in representing yourself well. They will then naturally feel that you will not represent their brand well, either. So, it is vitally important that you, or someone who has strong writing skills, proofread these documents before you submit them as your application to vacancy announcements. I also recommend that you consider using a service such as Grammarly. I use the free version for my business and I really like it.
Interpersonal interactions – Remember that your first interpersonal interaction with your potential new employer is when their representative calls you for a telephone screening. The job search journey can be exciting. The anticipation of an employer calling in response to your resume submission to their vacancy announcement is almost indescribable. Even in all of your excitement, be careful to not fumble when the ball is in your court and cause your potential new employer to perceive your actions incorrectly. One way to avert a misstep is to allow calls from unfamiliar phone numbers to go to voice mail, then check your message and return their call. Think about it, when employers call you could be at work. If you answer the phone, how are you going to handle the situation when you realize that the person on the line is calling to discuss your interest in a new job? Co-workers, or even worse, your manager could be close by. There could be a lot of background noise, and don’t forget that callers’ voices tend to travel loudly over a cell line. If you happen to find yourself in this situation, I suggest that you thank the person for calling then politely inform them that you are not in a good place to talk at the moment and ask if you can call them back. Doing so will give you an opportunity to hopefully review the vacancy announcement and to collect your thoughts on how your experience relates to the position. Recruiters and hiring managers are used to this type of request and they realize that as excited as you are about their call, you have a life that does not stop during your job search. You are responsible for managing the distractions on your end so they have no opportunity to not advance you to the next step in the selection process. I have not encountered one who did not agree to a call-back. Remember, they want the call to be productive, so they don’t want any distractions to interfere with their accurate assessment of you as a candidate. The next opportunity for positive interpersonal interactions with a potential employer is during your in-person interview. Make certain that you speak cordially to everyone; firmly shake the interviewers’ hands, and maintain a healthy, confident amount of eye contact. Believe it when I tell you that it makes you more credible.
Verbal Communication – The telephone screen is your opportunity to showcase your solid command of the English language. So, please speak properly during your conversations with employers. Speak clearly and at a level that allows the other person to hear you well. Pronounce words correctly. Speak in complete sentences. Ask appropriate questions. Answer the interviewer’s questions completely. Don’t go overboard with your explanations, but give succinctly detailed answers that respond to each aspect of the question asked.
They also look for your enthusiasm for the prospect of becoming a member of their team. So, don’t be afraid to tell them that you are honored to be a candidate and that the position is just the type of opportunity that you want. This will let the interviewers know that you will be committed to doing the best job possible…because it is something that you want.
Become more aware of how your behavior impacts others around you so that you can be the “high-character” candidate that your dream employer is looking for!