This is the time of year when college graduates are out in force, searching for jobs and lining up interviews. Sadly, many of those who score face-to-face interviews will not be hired – not because they aren't adequately educated, but because they simply do not know how to behave during meetings with hiring managers.
Interpersonal skills are sorely lacking
Employers have long noted that the Millennial generation has a deficit of social skills that are crucial to workplace success. Poor communication skills and a lack of preparedness for the workaday world loom large, and may be at the root of some strange behavior that young people have been known to exhibit during job interviews.
Last year, a USA Today article described some of the weird things new college graduates did on their interviews, including bringing a pet cat along – and interacting more with the animal than with the hiring manager.
Young applicants have also brought their parents into job interviews, as well as taken cell phone calls and sent texts. In a survey of hiring managers last summer by staffing firm Express Employment, 61% of respondents ranked answering a call the second-worst thing job applicants can do during an interview – immediately following lying about one's work experience.
Another issue is Millennials' casual approach to appearance. Employers still expect applicants to dress professionally and be well-groomed when they show up for an interview, and sloppy attire will quickly turn off any HR manager. Last year, an Adecco Staffing survey showed half of hiring managers believed that showing up to an interview wearing inappropriate attire is the worst mistake applicants can make.
Tips for making a good impression
Now that it's clear what employers don't want, how can applicants ace job interviews once they've dressed up and turned off their phones? Three very important factors come through loud and clear:
1. Resumes are still extremely important. In the Adecco survey, 54% of managers said that a poor resume will prevent an applicant from being granted an interview. Spelling mistakes really rankle, and will put you out of the running very quickly.
2. You should be clear and articulate during the interview. Poor communication skills are cited often by HR managers as problematic during an interview, and the ability to successfully interact with other people is considered crucial to job success by 83% of managers, according to Millennial Branding.
3. Don't be afraid to show some personality, and radiate a positive attitude. A recent poll by CareerBuilder showed that 72% of employers value this particular soft skill. Only dependability and a strong work ethic scored higher with HR managers.
Being properly prepared before a job interview will not only impress the hiring manager, but will make you stand out from the rest of the applicants in a very positive way. Being prepared has another advantage: You will feel more comfortable during the interview, making communication much less stilted.
And, of course, leave the parents – and the pets – at home.