- Don’t send a form cover letter: If you really want the job, craft your cover letter to sell yourself as a natural fit for the position. A generic cover letter just makes you one of a large and lazy crowd.
- Make your name part of the file name of your resume: Hiring managers see a lot of resumes, and move them around on their computers. Application_Developer.doc or CurrentResume.pdf just don’t cut it for personal branding. Make it easy on the hiring manager and make sure your name is part of the file name. For example, Chad_Broadus_Resume.doc, although long, is very descriptive.
- Be on time: Nothing says poor ability to estimate and plan like being late to an interview. If you can swing it, always shoot to be 20-30minutes early. That allows for bad directions and bad traffic.
- Err on the side of dressy: Let’s face it, there are still a lot of old school hiring managers out there that consider you to be a total nogoodnik if you show up in anything less than a suit. A collared shirt and slacks are the bare minimum here. And please, if you freshen your breath with a piece of gum before the interview, get rid of it before the start. A gum chewing Burt Reynolds isn’t all that appropriate.
- Do some rehearsal interviews with a friend: You may still be nervous during the real thing, but like practicing karate moves over and over, you’ll build up “muscle” memory, and coherent answers will just come out automatically. (Here are 50 questions to practice with.)
- Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” if you don’t know something: There’s nothing uglier than a candidate BSing their way through an answer. If we can’t trust you to be honest during the interview, how will we be able to work with you?
- Relax and be yourself: Once the interviewers figure out that you can actually do the job, it’s all about personality and fit. The more of the real you that comes through, the better.
Originally published June 23, 2009