Have you ever thought it was a waste of time to fill out an application? Well get that out of your mind. Your application does not get you a job but it can prevent you from getting one. Correctly completing an application is vital for your chances to get to the next step of the interview process.
Employers use your application for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, applications are used to build a record and file for you. They are also used to gain permission to check items in your background such as job history, credit history, driving background, legal convictions, and references. Frequently an application is used to quickly screen out candidates, it can be considered a test. Did you fill it out completely and correctly? Some employers even use applications to verify consistency within your resume.
When you go to a face-to-face interview, you should assume that you will be required to fill out an application. Therefore, you should have all necessary information quickly available for you to reference. If you put together a Self-Reference Guidebook (you will find instructions to Self-References Guidebooks next) you will be thoroughly prepared to fill out any application without mistakes.
When you are given an application to fill out, make sure you fill it out completely. Your resume never replaces an application! Completing your application is your first opportunity to show that you follow directions. So do so with diligence.
Tips for completing an application correctly:
- Read the application completely before starting to fill it out.
- Always bring a pen.
- Bring a Self-Reference Guidebook with all-important information.
- Be completely honest.
- Print your answers neatly.
- Spell everything correctly.
- Do not leave any blank spaces, if a question does not apply simply put N/A.
- Your job history should begin with your most recent position and then work backwards.
- Include exact addresses, phone numbers, and former supervisor’s contact information in your job history.
- Be concise with your answers.
- Additional information (like hobbies or organizations) should only include relevant and recent information.
- Avoid including anything that could be controversial, like religion or politics.
- When asked your desired salary, it is acceptable to print “negotiable.”
- Reference information should be complete with mailing addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses.
- Proof read your completed application; verify that there are no mistakes.
- Sign and date the application before turning it in.
- Never fold or tear your application.
General Interviewing Tips
Smile, you’re on stage! Sound tough? Once you understand the keys to a successful interview, you can relax a little. There is only so much preparation you can do; hopefully, you have done it by now. If you know the proper etiquette and have rehearsed the questions you might be asked and that you intend to ask, you will be ahead of the game.
- Dress better than you are required to.
- Bring your Self-Reference Guidebook and pen.
- Bring extra copies (2-5) of your resume, references, and letters of recommendation.
- Bring a notepad to takes notes.
Etiquette During the Interview
Common sense? Maybe, but frequently candidates make crucial mistakes that often cost them job offers.
- Show up 5 – 10 minutes early (only)
- Be friendly and respectful to everyone
- If given an application, fill it out thoroughly
- Be patient if you need to wait
- Offer a firm handshake
- Greet the interviewer with the name they introduce themselves with
- Maintain strong eye contact and a smile
- Use proper grammar
- Listen carefully
- Answer questions honestly and thoroughly, back up your answers with success stories
- Be interactive and engage in conversations
- Be enthusiastic and positive
- Sit up straight
- Ask for a business card
- Thank the interviewer
- Send thank you notes to everyone you met
- Wear excessive flashy jewelry
- Wear heavy cologne or perfume
- Wear heavy make-up
- Wear revealing or tight fitting clothing
- Bring a cell phone or pager into the interview
- Chew gum
- Smoke or drink alcohol
- Use negative body language like crossing your arms
- Use limiting terms such as “only”, “a little” or “just”
- Exaggerate your experience
- Look at your watch
- Appear bored
- Discuss controversial type topics such as, religion or politics
- Interrogate the interviewer
- Use curse words
- Talk negatively about you former employers
Presenting Your Skills and Achievements
It cannot be said too much, back everything up with a story. When you are presenting your skills, be sure you give details; how long you have had such skills, and how have you used them. When you are referring to skills that you do not have extensive experience with, NEVER use limiting terms such as “only”, “little” and “just.” You are prejudging whether or not your skills are strong enough and not allowing the employer to make that judgment. Instead simply state what you have done.
Of course, NEVER exaggerate your experience, but don’t underestimate it either. Simply state the facts.
If you do not have experience or a particular skill that an employer inquires about, either state what you know about it or how you would go about learning it. If you have never heard of the skill, ask the employer to give you more details, maybe you have heard of it, but by a different name. The important thing is to show the employer that you are able and willing to learn new skills.
Your personal qualities are just as important, if not more important, than your experience and skills. Everyone says, “I’m a fast learner,” “I’m great with people,” “I’m a team player,” or “I’m a great leader.” These are all noble qualities that you may posses. However, to stand out among all the others that posses these qualities, you need to prove them to the employer. You do this by backing your claims up with stories and examples.
Asking for the job is probably the most important thing you can do in the interview. Employers want to hire people who are excited and motivated.
Ending the interview with “Thank you for your time and I am interested in this opportunity” is not the same as asking for the job. This is just a polite way to end the interview. Consider the times when the employer ended the interview by saying “you will be hearing from us” and you heard from them through a “thanks, but no thanks” letter. You need to show enthusiasm. Find a way that is comfortable for you to express your excitement about joining the employer and making an immediate impact.