Many job seekers see a job as won or lost based on the interview. While that part of the process is obviously important, what you do before sitting down with the hiring manager can play just as much of a role in whether you are selected as any other component. To help ensure you don’t lose the job before you sit down for the interview, here are some tips for mastering the early stages of the hiring process.

Resumes and Cover Letters Missteps

Your resume and cover letter serve as your first impression when you apply for a position. Making critical errors1 at this stage can have your application immediately moved to the shredder. Spelling and grammar errors are essentially unacceptable, especially with the number of tools available to help you review the documents. Failing to proofread your resume and cover letter suggest you struggle with attention to detail, as well as communication and writing skills, none of which will help you get hired.

Similarly, a resume that is too long will often be discarded. Depending on your level of experience, most resumes should be no longer than one or two pages. Carrying on beyond that often means extraneous or irrelevant information hasn’t been edited out and may appear generally unfocused. Additionally, most hiring managers don’t have the time to search through three or more pages of information for the pieces they need, so most simply won’t bother.

Lack of Appreciation

Whenever you are contacted about a position, whether in writing, over the phone, or in person, you need to display interest and enthusiasm regarding the opportunity when you respond. For example, if you are offered an interview slot, make sure to thank the hiring manager or interview coordinator for the opportunity and express that you look forward to the meeting. Not only is this polite, but it also shows you have a genuine interest in the opportunity. Failing to show appreciation during your conversations will work against you.

Being Late or Too Early to the Interview

Most candidates know that being late to an interview will reflect poorly on them, but being too early can actually do the same. In both cases, it can suggest a lack of respect for the hiring manager’s time. If you are late, it suggests you don’t mind keeping them waiting and may indicate poor time management skills and a lack of preparation. Being too early may appear as though you don’t respect that they likely have more on their plate than just interviewing you, and may imply you expect them to rush through or stop what they are doing to meet with you instead.

In most situations, being 10 to 15 minutes early2 is appropriate for an interview. If you end up getting to the building earlier than that, it is wise to wait in your car or go for a short walk around the area until it is closer to your appointment time. However, if you are late, there may be little you can do to recover.

A Poor Handshake

Your handshake has an impact on your professional image.3 If your hand remains limp, it can imply that you are fragile or lack confidence. In contrast, if your grip is too strong, it seems like you are trying to overpower the interviewer and comes off as overly aggressive.

Handshakes need to be firm, but controlled. The handshake process is the same regardless of whether you or the interviewer are male or female. Keep it clean, crisp, and always professional.

By managing the early stages of the process properly, you have a better shot of staying in contention. Then, you can let your interview skills shine and give them a chance to truly see everything you have to offer.

Work With a Top Staffing Agency in Atlanta

If you are looking for additional job search tips or are actively seeking new employment opportunities, the recruiters at Employ Partners can help you make the right first impression. Contact a top staffing agency in Atlanta today to see what may be available in your area.


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