Ten Tips for Mastering Your Interview with Human Resources

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Most companies will expect you to meet with their Human Resources department very early in the interview process. As a former HR professional, here are some tips that may help you make it to the next round of interviews.

  1. Never badmouth anything or anyone. This applies to your former employer, coworkers, or Osama bin Laden. We’re trying to screen out whiners and troublemakers. I don’t care if your last supervisor was a tyrant. Be kind and magnanimous about everything and everyone.
  2. Make sure your appearance is in order. We’ve covered this. Fair or not, you are judged based you based on how you look. Check your fly and make sure your eyebrows are smooth.
  3. Don’t smoke on the day of the interview. We can smell it. We don’t like it. There is an unconscious bias against smokers, and let’s face it, you have a reputation for being lazy. Smokers are more expensive to insure, too. Why would we want you on the payroll? Help me help you. Don’t smoke.
  4. Don’t be too aggressive and tell us how awesome you are. You’re here, aren’t you? A little humility, and some self-deprecating comments, will go along way with Human Resources professionals. Trust me.
  5. Don’t tell us your life story. We hate it when you confuse Human Resources with your mother, your therapist, or your best friend.
  6. Don’t expect us to have a timeline for the interview process. We have no idea how long it will take to fill the position. Ideally, we want to fill the opening tomorrow so we can get back to online shopping. Realistically, it will probably take a few months. Blame George Bush.
  7. Be prepared to talk about your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t ever tell us that you struggle to delegate. You care too much. You take on too much responsibility. An interview is a conversation, not a bad eHarmony profile. Show some self-awareness.
  8. When you take us through your resume, don’t gloss over the mistakes. We like it when you stop and tell us about an experience that taught you something. It shows character. Address your flaws outright and tell us how you learned something.
  9. Compliment us. Seriously. We are human beings, too. Scan our offices and look for awards, photos, or something noteworthy. Make a connection. This is what salespeople do, and it works. We will remember your praise.
  10. Make it easy for us to hire you. When you give us examples during the interview process, frame those examples in a way that relates to the job description, the issues in the industry, or the company’s mission. Be relevant and you will be remembered.

It doesn’t take a box of donuts or a pick-up line from a movie to charm the pants off your local HR professional. Be honest, tell a story, and try to relax. There’s no magic formula to acing your interview, but there are plenty of ways to put your foot in your mouth and sabotage your chances for success.

No pressure, but don’t blow it.

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