So what qualifies the Czar as an authority on job interviews? Plenty! We have interviewed for dozens of jobs, and have interviewed people for jobs probably nearly as much. And in that time, weve realized a few truths that will help anybody look smarter… at least, smarter than those without web access to this page. Lets start with that eye-opener…
Having a great-looking résumé is not as important as you might think… in most cases, it will look like crap once theyre done with it. Instead of using fancy stationery and explosive color, just put it on plain white paper with simple, clear fonts. Anything more will be illegible once its photocopied and faxed around. And surprisingly, this mistreatment happens a lot to résumés, partially because so many people need to review a résumé before the interviewing process begins, but mostly because people like to copy and fax them around because they want a good laugh at your expense.
Note that the word is spelled résumé, not resume. Resume is a verb meaning to continue. Résumé is a noun, that means I dont know a lot, but am using big words to impress you.
An address is very important on a résumé, unless its a prison address. Also, put a phone number with the address. For maximum effect, be sure its your phone number, and that the phone works. If youre somehow still employed somewhere, dont put down your current work number, especially (a) if its risky for you to get a call at work from a prospective employer, and (b) if its a 900 number.
Some people put down what their objective is, next. We could never figure this out, since everyones objective is the same: a job which can mostly pay the bills, and from which one can steal whatever office supplies one needs. Our advice is to skip the objective, since, for one thing, its potentially limiting, and for another, nobody cares but you what your long-term goals are.
The next section should be your experience. Start with your most current job, and then go backward until you were born. Avoid gaps in your work history, particularly if the gaps are long enough to be prison sentences (see the paragraph above on addresses; employers dont trust active felons). If you have a gap in your résumé because you are afraid to put down an extremely unpleasant job experience, thats okay. Just make something up that sounds good. Put the time spent at each job, but be careful: interviewers get suspicious when you seem to leave every job after three weeks.
When describing what you did at each job, be creative. Remember, this is an ad, not a tax form. Honesty is right out (remember how that one car ad you saw convinced you to purchase that model, because of the elegant comfort, great mileage, and sexy design, and yet failed to mention anything about the transmission dropping out onto the pavement every few hours? Your résumé should be like this.)
Use action words in your résumé, like managed, transformed, enabled, oriented, sieged, and decapitated. Avoid weak or negative words like, hated, vomited, unseamed from nave to chaps, gurgled, or fainted. For example:
Worked in mail sorting department. Licked stamps all day. Sometimes cleaned counters. Occasionally napped and struck up conversations with FedEx guy. Stole eleven staplers. Am willing to part with staplers if you hire me.
Managed and transformed large-scale messaging and routing substation. Worked in key management capacity with high efficiency in applications. Functioned as core member of red team on periodic continuous quality improvement (CQI) program in facility renovation. Provided human resource management in scheduling on-the-job (OTJ) flex-time. Acted in key liaison role with Fortune 500 company. Boosted inventory beyond recommendations of inventory control. Developed active plan to migrate resources as leveraging tool.
Now, mind you, this can backfire. As an experienced résumé reader, we know about this stuff. You might think you could never compete with this guy:
Managed entire Systems Coordination Analysis department. Functioned as employment liaison between all levels of management, provided interfacing mechanisms to strategic development teams, and was responsible for $300,000 in direct savings to company profit plan. Key member of employee post-pay profit distribution program. Directly oversaw non-corporate appropriation, and provided technological direction on companys 1,000-node wide-area-network (WAN).
In fact, you stand a great chance, because this is what hes really telling us:
I was a one-man department that had no real function, so I assigned it a name that you could never possibly identify. I was the guy in our office who pretty much walked around and talked everyones ear off all day, although I sometimes sat in on some meetings without knowing what was being discussed. I saved the company $300,000 dollars by not embezzling that much from the profit plan… not that I even had the chance. By the way, I participated in the companys benefits program. Also, I stole a lot of stuff from supplies for my own, non-business use, and I had a computer on my desk that was connected to the network.
So rather than being down on yourself, cheer up! The résumé doesnt mean anything you dont want it to!
When done with your experience, be sure to put down what your educational background is. This doesnt mean diddly: interviewers just want to see what school you went to, and see if it was a rival to theirs.
That leads us to…
Here are some basic tips for the interview:
- Show up on time. Do not be three days late.
- Dress appropriately. Avoid Mardi Gras costumes or fig leaves. Be conservative: dress exactly like the interviewer, even if it means dragging a suitcase around with a variety of clothing and accessories.
- Do not mimic the interviewers lisp.
- A sense of humor is good, but avoid puppets or gags like wax lips.
- Dont bring your lawyer.
- Avoid answering personal questions, such as How old are you, Are you pregnant, or Would you show me pictures of yourself in the shower.
- Avoid falling asleep.