10 Job Interview Tips {what employers are looking for}

job interview lineup

Image Credit: Pop Sugar

Over the past several years in restaurant business management, I have given countless interviews. Hundreds, possibly even a thousand. This may seem like an exaggeration, but considering that we interviewed over 700 people during our job fair when we opened Nashville in 2010 with just myself and two others I think that it's highly possible I've hit 1000 interviews by now. That, by the way, was one of the most exhausting things I've ever done and is really great story for a different time.

So, I thought I would do a mini series on job interviews. Today, we'll start with some advice for the Interviewee, and then I'll share some tips for the person on the other side of the desk.

 10 Tips to Win Your Interview

  1. Be a Good Candidate. By this, I basically mean be a good person. One of the questions I typically ask is "Do you consider yourself an honest person?" You'd be surprised by how telling the reactions are. Like it or not, the way you conduct yourself in your private life is a huge indicator of whether or not you will be a good employee. I once was interviewing a guy (that I had already decided that I wasn't going to hire due to the alcohol on his breath) about the flexibility of his schedule, and he replied "Well, most of the things I like to do for fun can be done late at night, so closing the restaurant isn't a problem." No thanks!
  2. Dress appropriately. Ok, so that's a pretty general statement, what does it mean? It means dress professionally and appropriately for the business that you are interviewing for. If you're interviewing for a position at a bank or a financial institution - that means a suit and tie for the guys, suit or skirt + jacket for the ladies. If the business you're applying for is casual like ours, jeans and a blazer is perfect. If you're interviewing at a super casual tech company where they serve beer during work hours and have bouncy houses on Fridays, still take it up a notch with a jacket and/or button down. Save the t-shirts for when you land the job.  It's also important to not overdress for the type of business you are interviewing at. It can indicate that you are out of touch and haven't done your research. Which brings me to...
  3. Do your homework. You can find out anything about any company thanks to Google. Check out their website and find out as much as you can before you go into the interview. If you know who you are interviewing with, find them on LinkedIn so you know what they look like. If there is a history or about section, read it over a couple of times. Know who the Owner/President is, what the company's mission statement is, what they are all about. You don't need to go crazy and make flash cards or anything. But I am definitely always impressed when I sit down with someone that clearly cared enough to check us out. It indicates to me that we are somewhere that they want to work at, rather than indicating that they are looking for just any job that will take them.
  4. Google yourself before the interview. A good employer that does their due diligence will be looking you up on the internet either before or after the interview. Look at your social media through an employer's eyes. Maybe consider taking down those photos from the bachelorette party, or at least making them private. Remember that the things that you say on social media are out there forever and may come back to haunt you. But hopefully {if you're a Good Candidate} it will help you!
  5. Be on time. Actually, be early. Enough said. You are halfway done with your interview before you even start if you're late. 5-10 minutes early is the sweet spot, too early and it can make your Interviewer feel rushed with whatever they are trying to wrap up before they sit down with you.
  6. Bring 2-3 copies of your resume. Preferably printed on nice paper. This isn't for my benefit, it's for yours. If you are interviewing somewhere formal, I'd suggest a folder for your resume.
  7. Relax. By nature, job interviews are stressful. You feel like you are being judged on the spot and that can make anyone twitch. But people are generally attracted to confidence (read: not timid, but not cocky), and that goes for job interviews, too. So take a couple of deep breaths, shake it off, and go in with a genuine smile.
  8. Interview them. The strongest candidates that I talk to always make me feel like they are interviewing us just as much as we are interviewing them. Good companies want to hire people that enjoy their jobs and enjoy their lives, which means that they are the type of people who hold job satisfaction to a high standard. So they ask questions about the culture of our company, what the team is like, what the goals for the company are. These are just examples of things that I am very happy to share because they are very important to me, too. So before the interview, jot down 5-8 questions you'd like to ask. Several may be answered in the course of the conversation, but rounding out the interview with 1 or 2 off your list will indicate that you are engaged and interested.
  9. Keep it relevant. Don't go too deep into your personal story. Interviewers DO want to know about you, but they don't want to hear your entire life story. It can sometimes very quickly veer off towards a "sob story" and the next thing you know the interviewer is just trying to find a way out. Which is the opposite of what you are going for. Give them enough to get a sense of who you are without spiraling out of control.
  10. Follow up. Chances are, the person that interviewed you is a very busy person. After the interview, send them a follow up email {or handwritten thank you note} simply thanking them for the opportunity and telling them that you hope to hear from them soon. That's it. No grand statement or anything long, you just want to seal the deal and indirectly remind them to follow up with you.

I would love to hear your comments or questions below. And... good luck!


xx Claire