Interviewing for a great retail job

There are people more qualified than me to write about job hunting and interviewing skills. I have not needed to apply for a job in quite a while. But this worked for me in the past, so I thought I would share it:
  1. Customise the CV and each letter for every job application. It is time consuming, but important. Don’t lie, but highlight the parts of your experience and achievements that are relevant to the job you are applying for.
  2. Don’t apply for jobs that don’t suit your background – you end up looking stupid and your judgement will be considered questionable. If you want to make a career change, you will have to go outside the normal channels to find a job.
  3. Don’t try and be completely out-of-the-box when applying for regular, management-type jobs. It may be suitable under certain circumstances, but not usually. Companies may not want to take the risk of hiring an oddball – even if you think you are being innovative or funny.
  4. Dress well – dark suit preferably - and be clean and slick. Everybody knows you are dressing up, but I think the point is that you are sending a message that you are prepared to play the game and do ‘what is expected’.
  5. Prepare answers to a list of standard questions that you surely know you are going to be asked. Don’t rattle off the answers in the interview, but demonstrate that you give the question some thought. (Your strengths and weaknesses, where you want to be in 5 years time etc.)
  6. Don’t lean back in a chair. Sit slightly forward – as if you are ready to get on with the job, but without appearing ready to run away.
  7. Keep your hands on the table (palms up) in a posture of openness and willingness to accept.
  8. Look your interviewer in the eye.
  9. Mimic the interviewer’s body language – subtly.
  10. Answer questions truthfully, but don’t give information that is unnecessary or too revealing. Everybody has flaws. You don’t have to brag about your ability to fart in a crowded room without looking guilty.
  11. Don’t accept offers of food or drink. You won’t be taken seriously if you have coke dribbling down your chin.
  12. Be prepared to chit chat in the opening minute, but even if it took you an hour to find parking, don’t go on and on about it – the interviewer does not really care.
  13. Make sure you have a few intelligent questions lined up when you are given your turn at the end. But there is plenty of time to go into the finer detail later. In particular avoid talking salary. If pushed, give some platitude about ‘market rates’ or ‘according to my ability’. Once the decision to employ is made, the company has made an emotional investment in you and that is the best time to talk salary. Having said that, I personally try and leave money out of the equation altogether – it should be the last thing on your mind when pursuing a career.
  14. At the close of the interview, make sure you are clear as to what the next step will be and what is expected of you. The last thing you want to do is to have to phone the interviewer back the next day to check.

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