Millennials have a lot of things going against them. We have a bad economy, degrees we don’t know how to sell to employers, and a job market that would much rather pretend we don’t exist than actually hire us. The fact is though, we deserve some of the blame for our job hunt troubles. Studies show that we consistently come up short during the interview process in areas where we should be overwhelmingly succeeding. In light of this, we’ve decided to put together five crucial interview tips so you can nail that next opportunity.
1. Put Your Phone Away
Millennials have a complicated relationship with technology. We were the first generation to grow up with computers and were typically introduced to cellphones during our high school years. These early experiences through childhood and adolescence have granted us a unique perspective, and allowed us to flourish in a period of exponential technological growth, but this does carry its own set of drawbacks. As a result, Millennials are notoriously glued to our phones. On average, we actually spend over 3.2 hours on them per day, which amounts to a whopping 22.4 hours over the course of a week. While this may not be a problem in and of itself, it certainly is a problem during the interview process.
The fact is, gluing yourself to your phone, even when waiting for your interview in a lobby, doesn’t make for the best first impression. Employers want to see that you’re focused, enthusiastic, and that you have ambition. If the first thing your potential employer sees is you surfing the internet or going on a texting spree, they could question your work ethic without ever giving you a chance to prove yourself. Setting an early tone is crucial for nailing your interview, and excessive cell phone usage may project the wrong image because it’s impossible for others to know whether you’re reading a New York Times article or surfing Facebook. Bring a book or even a crossword puzzle instead, so that you can convey an image of productivity even while you’re just trying to kill time.
2. Dress to Impress
Our generation also tends to make some questionable wardrobe decisions before we attend interviews. According to a survey provided by Forbes, 75% of potential employers believe that the top mistake our generation makes during the interview process is showing up in casual dress. By not taking the extra time and effort to look professional, we validate all the negative stereotypes people have about millennials. Showing up to an interview in jeans or a t-shirt displays apathy, laziness, and a sense of entitlement. It makes an unflattering statement that we deserve the position without going to the extra mile to actually earn it.
By putting extra thought and care into your attire, you enter the interview ahead of the curve. You send a clear message to your employer that you’re professional, and that you truly want to be there. Any opportunity you have to make a positive impression in the short time you have during your interview increases your chances of landing the job. If you’re unsure of how formally you should dress for the interview, always err on the side of caution dress as formal as possible. This is one of the easiest but also most important ways to put your best foot forward the next time you receive a call after submitting your resume.
3. Don’t Be Over Eager
This may sound contradictory in comparison to the advice we’ve provided so far, but it’s entirely possible to come off as over eager during the interview. While employers want you to be enthusiastic and engaged, you don’t want to inadvertently appear desperate while you rattle off your qualifications and accomplishments. You want to project an air of professionalism and enthusiasm without going off on tangents detailing how excited you are for the opportunity or how much you want the position. Doing so runs the risk of turning off potential employers, so take your time before answering. It’s much better to pause thoughtfully than to stall for time by rambling, and as we’ve stated before, every opportunity you have to make a strong impression during the interview is vital to your chances of actually landing the job.
4. Seriously, Don’t Be Late
The results of a recent study find that 33% of millennials believe that showing up to an interview late by five minutes or more is entirely acceptable. We shouldn’t have to say this, but it’s not. Showing up late is the easiest way to cost yourself a job, because it gives your employer ample reason to ignore your qualifications and achievements. Hiring managers already have their fair share of reservations about millennials to begin with, so giving fuel to the fire is the last thing you want you do.
One way you can negate the risk of not making it to your interview on time is to make your travel plans in advance. Look up traffic reports if you’re driving, show up early to your bus and subway stops, or splurge on an uber, but do whatever it takes to make sure you aren’t late. Or better yet, grab a cup of coffee across the street and show up well in advance. Not only will this give you an opportunity to calm your nerves and compose yourself for the interview, but it’ll also project an image of professionalism.
5. Consult with a Career Coach
Our last piece of advice for preparing yourself for the interview is to consider consulting a career a coach before engaging in your interviews. This is important for a number of reasons. While there are other ways to prepare yourself for these important meetings, consulting with a professional can give you crucial insights into how to conduct yourself, tailor your skills for your target industry, and maintain a balanced conversational flow when meeting your potential employer.
A large portion of the millennial generation are either just graduating college or entering the workforce for the
first time, so these types of consultations can prove invaluable in overcoming lack of experience in the professional world. As it so happens, our company provides this service courtesy of a career coach with 32 years of work experience in domestic and international companies. In addition to entrepreneurial experience building companies from the ground up, our coach has hired hundreds of employees and offers valuable insights into exactly what it takes to effectively market yourself during the interview process.
As stated at the beginning of this article, millennials have a lot of things going against them in the current job climate. We’re tied to stereotypical images of entitlement and laziness that don’t fully represent us as a generation, we’re entering into a job market that doesn’t know what to do with us, and more likely than not, we’re also buried in copious amounts of student loan debt. Despite these obstacles, our generation has unique skills and insights that give us ample opportunity to succeed in today’s professional world. The trick is giving yourself a fair platform to market them, and this comes from learning how to conduct yourself professionally in every aspect of the hiring process.