By Miriam Salpeter
One of the most challenging and frustrating aspects of a job search is that there is no one "right way" to handle any aspect of the process. The interview is no exception; every employer has an idea about what constitutes a good answer to a key question. Candidates can follow otherwise good advice that backfires because their desired employers have different expectations from the norm.
What's a job seeker to do? Prepare to balance important, desirable traits with the types of replies employers are likely to want to hear. Tim Elmore, founder and president of a nonprofit firm focused on youth leadership development called Growing Leaders (www.GrowingLeaders.com), offers this advice. It's particularly geared to young job seekers to help them succeed at an interview:
1. Balance confidence with teachability. Elmore notes: "Research from a variety of employment sources reveal that the majority of young employees believe their boss can learn a lot from them."
Elmore also acknowledges that while it may be true that more experienced interviewers do have a lot to learn from young employees, an interviewee who appears arrogant may repel a baby boomer. He suggests communicating your strong value, but without leaving the employer with the feeling you believe you know everything.
2. Balance warmth with formality. It's easy to get very comfortable, especially when interviewing in informal workplaces, where most of the interviewers are casually dressed and invite you to open up and share your true personality. "Often, recent college grads become far too informal, joking about personal elements in their lives or about the interviewer themselves. This is risky," Elmore notes.
Many human resources professionals suggest young candidates don't take interviews seriously enough, and that this is the No. 1 problem with hiring young employees. Some candidates even text or take a phone call during the interview. Elmore suggests candidates make an effort to be warm and friendly, but maintain a professional distance that is appropriate for a first meeting.
3. Balance creativity with cooperation. Elmore explains: "Today, 83 percent of new graduates are looking for a place where their creativity is valued. Two out of three want to invent their own position at work." Keep in mind, this is a terrific aspiration, but your new employer may expect you to first function within the company's existing structure. Elmore says, "Let the interviewer know you have creative ideas, but leave the impression that you're prepared to get on board with the organization's plans."
Tips 4-6 and the complete USNews article