It's well-known that job hunting is a military spouse's least favorite pastime. It can be exhausting searching for a job that fits the right schedule, is close to where you're stationed and pays enough to be worth the drive.
With so many hurdles in the military spouse rat race, don't let job interviews become another one. Here are five mistakes you may be making at job interviews:
5 Common Mistakes Military Spouses Make During Job Interviews
Being Dressed Inappropriately
As a placement specialist for warehouses, I've seen it all. From sheer blouses and offensive T-shirts to the finest of suits, they've all come to my office looking for the same job.
Theoretically, it doesn't matter what you wear to our office. You'll be hired into the warehouse as long as you pass the background check and drug test.
However, the old adage of "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have" still stands.
Originally I signed up to work in the warehouse. When I went for my interview, I wore black slacks and a red collared shirt. When I was called back for my interview, the woman doing my interview gave me a strange look and said, "Would you prefer to work in the office?"
I felt like I had found my fairy godmother.
I told her "absolutely!" and how most of my work experience is in offices. She took me to the office manager who did a separate interview, and they hired me that day.
I found out later that it was because I was in the right place at the right time and I was dressed properly. Before she had even spoken to me, she already had picked me out of the crowd of T-shirts and tank tops. Never underestimate the power of a pair of nice black slacks and a crisp, collared shirt.
If you struggle with the cost of a good interview outfit, most bases and posts have a thrift store (which I always find fantastic clothing in!), or you can also contact organizations like Dress For Success for assistance.
Not Presenting Yourself Professionally
It's not just about the clothes. If you're wearing a designer suit, but you're late and you're slouching in your seat, looking at your iPhone during the interview, looking bored or irritated or only giving one-word answers to the interviewer's questions, then chances are that you aren't getting the job.
When going to a job interview, take as little with you into the building as possible. If you choose to bring a briefcase, don't bring your purse. Bring your résumé in a professional folder. You also should leave your phone in the car or turn it off and put it in your handbag.
Sit up straight and look confident, engage with the interviewer and have a genuine conversation.
You Act Like You Are Too Good for This Job
Don't walk into a job interview thinking you're the most important person there. Sure, you should be confident, but don't be narcissistic.
Don't interrupt the interviewer to ask questions, don't put down the other applicants and do not sneer at anyone.
Also, for the sake of everyone's time and sanity, never think you are too good for a job (and if you do, don't schedule an interview for that job). You aren't doing the company any favors by interviewing for a job with them.
Aim to be polite, kind and humble.
You are scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. interview and it's 2:30, and you're just now being seen. I know this can be frustrating, but when an HR manager, boss or CEO schedules an interview, they cannot predict what will happen the day of the interview.
Pro tip: Give yourself a four-hour window for your job interview. I know this seems outrageous at first glance, but what it really boils down to is: Do you want this job?
If you do, then you'll be ready to wait as long as you possibly can manage. I've also seen interviews where HR hires someone and wants them to fill out the paperwork immediately or even tour the facility. Give yourself time for whatever happens.
If you're in a rush the whole time, they will think you don't see working for them as important, and they will not give you the job.
Not Saying No
It's OK to say "no" or to turn down a job. I know that's a hard concept when you need or want a job, but the only thing worse than not getting a job is taking a job that has a schedule or requirement that doesn't work for you.
It sets you up for frustration, stress and failure.
If your child care center closes at 6 p.m. and the boss hints that sometimes you will have to work late nights, you need to consider if that will work for you and your family. If the answer is no, then clearly communicate that.
"I cannot work past 5:30 p.m. If that's not an option, then I'm going to have to say, 'No, thank you.'"
Or if the job doesn't pay enough to cover your gas, much less child care, then it's best to let them know politely that you don't think it's the right fit.
If this job is going to affect your family life negatively or if you're just going to have to quit in a month because the schedule or pay doesn't work, then just say no.
Job interviews don't have to be the worst part of the job search. Remember that it's just a conversation with another person about whether you and the job fit.
It's like putting together a puzzle -- there's no shame in finding two pieces that don't fit together. You just keep looking until you find the right matching pieces.
If you're still nervous, just remember the 5 Ps: Be prompt, patient, presentable, professional and personable, and remember that it's OK to say "no."
This article originally appeared at NextGen Military Spouse.
More articles from NetGen Military Spouse:
- How to Write Your Exquisite Elevator Pitch
- What Employers Need to Know about Military Spouses
- Fighting the Guilt: What's a Working Military Spouse to Do?
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