THE IMPORTANCE OF ATTITUDE!
by: Melissa Stilley Avery
What is more important to a prospective employer – skills or attitude? The answer is that both are very important! If you do not have the appropriate skills for the position chances are that you won’t have been scheduled for an interview, but even if you meet every requirement for education, work history and knowledge your attitude can make you or break you – both before AND after a job interview! Below are some do’s and don’ts for before, during, and after your interview that will help you succeed in your search for an exciting new job.
Before Your Interview:
When writing your resume and cover letter, avoid any negativity towards yourself or others. Make your resume honest and positive. The resume is often the first contact that a new employer will have with you, and first impressions, even on paper, do matter. If you include information about why you are currently seeking new employment in your cover letter, do not say something to the effect of, “My current/most recent boss was too demanding/unrealistic/etc”. Instead, either leave this section out completely or word it in a way that comes across as positive rather than negative.
When you receive a phone call requesting an interview keep in mind that the caller may be your prospective boss or someone that they have delegated to call you on their behalf. It does not matter what title this person holds, you should treat them as you would the employer – with respect and politeness. If you act offended that the boss didn’t call personally or act as though the person calling doesn’t matter because they are not the one hiring you, you can bet that that information will be shared and will be a part of the hiring decision.
Arrival – when going for the interview itself, plan ahead. If you do not know exactly where the office is located, drive by the day before (at approximately the same time as your interview if possible) in order to get an accurate feel for traffic flow and how long it will take you to arrive. You do want to arrive early, but not grossly so. Planning to be there about 10-15 minutes early is a good rule of thumb. If you arrive 30-45 minutes early it may be an inconvenience to the office staff, if you arrive last minute it shows that you may have punctuality issues. Remember to dress for success – be sure that your clothing and footwear choices are appropriate to the office setting and the season and that they are clean and pressed. Dressing too casually or in wrinkled clothing gives the impression that this position isn’t all that important to you.
During Your Interview:
First, remember that your attitude and behavior in the waiting area is very important! How you treat the receptionist actually does have an impact on the employer’s feelings toward hiring you. Again, be polite and respectful. Do not act as though the receptionist is there to serve you, or is beneath you. Negative behavior of this sort will most definitely be passed along – as will positive behavior and a pleasant attitude. While waiting for your interview, do not fidget, talk or text on your cell phone or repeatedly glance at your watch or the office clock. You do not want to appear inpatient or engage in unprofessional behavior. Instead, turn your phone off before entering the office and if you are asked to wait, glance through a magazine or brochures that the office has in their wait area. If you are flustered due to something that happened before you left home or traffic on the way to your appointment, take a few deep calming breaths before you enter the office. Appearing flustered will make your prospective employer think that you are unable to handle stressful situations.
Remember to relax! Nervousness can come across as incompetence or being unprepared. To help settle your nerves, try researching the company before leaving home. The more you know, the calmer you will be. It also shows your prospective employer that you are serious in your interest in their company. Prepare a few logical questions about the company and/or position in case you are asked if you have any questions – that way you do not feel put on the spot and unprepared. Breathe calmly and slowly during your interview, show enthusiasm and interest and try to give clear honest answers to the questions you are asked. Remember to keep your facial expressions friendly and open. Do not scowl or frown, even if asked a question that is difficult to answer.
At some point in your interview, you will inevitably be asked about your previous employment experiences and why you are no longer with those companies. How you handle the answer to this question will say a lot about you! Do not speak badly of your former company or former boss. Problems with other employees or a lack of organization might suggest that you are uncooperative or are unable to adjust to different situations. A prospective employer, upon hearing you degrade a former employer or company, will believe that you will do the same to them. No one likes to be talked about negatively! Instead, keep your answer neutral – do not lie, but do project a positive and move-ahead attitude. It is better to say, “I am searching for a position where I am able to focus more on helping my patients/customers/clients to meet their goal(s)”, than to say, “My former company didn’t know what they were doing and expected me to do too many different things at one time”.
After Your Interview:
As your interview is ending, smile and shake hands with the interviewer, thank them for the opportunity to interview with them and let them know that you look forward to hearing from them in the future. Remember to remain professional all the way to your car no matter how you feel the interview went. Smile, say “Have a nice day” to those you encounter along the way, and walk with your head up and your back straight.
After your interview it is acceptable to send a polite Thank You note to the interviewer, again expressing your gratitude for their time and the opportunity to learn more about the company, along with a hope that you will speak with them again soon. Do not be too long-winded about it – a simple thank you mentioning those points will suffice. Also, do not beg or grovel for the job. If the decision of who to hire comes down to yourself and another candidate, your post-interview attitude may help make the decision – you want it to be a positive factor, not a negative one!
Remember that the wheels of hiring sometimes move more slowly than you might like. Be patient! Most likely, the interviewer has several candidates lined up and must meet with each of them, even if they really liked you. Once the interviews are completed, they will review resumes and interview notes on each candidate, and then make their decision. In some companies these items will be shared with another individual or several individuals before a decision is made. If you have not heard from the company after a week, it is okay to call once and politely ask if there is anything else they need from you, but check your attitude before you pick up that phone! You want to appear friendly and helpful, not disgruntled or aggravated about how long their decision is taking. Remember that you will most likely have to leave a message either on voicemail or with a live person, and your attitude towards that person or machine or about leaving a message in general, will be noted. Do not call back repeatedly to find out the status of the position or have an attitude when you do call. Employers do not want to feel as though they are being bullied into making a decision, or making a decision before they are ready. Impatience is not a desirable quality!
To be successful, remember that attitude is just as important (and often more so) than all the degrees and titles you can collect! Before any contact with any potential employer be sure to give yourself an attitude check and be sure that you are projecting a friendly, outgoing and pleasant attitude. Put a smile in your voice, even if you are only leaving a message. Treat everyone in the office or on the phone as though their feelings about you are extremely important to whether or not you get the job – because they are!