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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

We'll let you know

By Shelley Decker
Sun Media

Spit out the gum, turn off the cellphone and don't be rude.

It may seem like obvious advice for a job interview, but apparently it's not.

Behaving badly in interviews is rampant and costs up to 40% of people their potential job, said employee expert Michael Schell, who penned

Human Resource Approved Job Interviews and Resumes (Approved Group Inc., $24.95).

Everything from showing up late to answering cellphones has occurred when people are trying to win over a future employer.

"(American philosopher Ralph Waldo) Emerson said: 'Common sense is as rare as genius.' Do I ever find that to be true," said the Vancouver author.

Proper attire and etiquette combined with positive attitudes are crucial for people trying to land or keep a job.

"The little things all together are what make the complete picture and make the big difference," Schell said.

When it comes to bombing an interview or job, gender isn't an issue and neither is education, said Ian MacArthur, director of headhunting firm Madison MacArthur Inc. He helps people across the country hone their interview skills. If you regularly land an interview, but aren't shortlisted, you likely need some coaching, said the Toronto expert.

Anyone can learn the skills to have a great interview.

"It ain't rocket science," MacArthur said.

So what's a person supposed to do?

Prepare, prepare, prepare, agree the two. That means researching the company and preparing your answers to common questions. Know your short- and long-term goals, strengths and weaknesses and why you want to leave your job.

Rehearsing answers ensures you avoid the frequent flaw of rambling. Answer a question succinctly, agree the pair. That leaves enough time at the end to be observant, such as, "I notice by the picture on your desk you have a dog. I have one too," MacArthur suggests. It gives you a chance to personally connect and that offers an advantage over other candidates.

"Conduct yourself at all times as a professional," MacArthur said. "Just like the show on TV, you want to be the last person on the island at the end of the day."

This pair has provided more tips to boost your odds of finding success in an interview and job. INTERVIEW:
  • Videotape: Film a practice interview. You may be horrified to see yourself slumped in a chair or fidgeting.
  • Handshake: Men and women should offer a firm hand.
  • Eye contact: If you don't make eye contact you risk appearing bored or as if you were hiding something.
  • Don't complain: Never vent about your last job or that your boss sucked. Employers loathe complainers.
  • Appear eager: Enthusiasm impresses the boss.
  • Ask a question: Just make sure it's not about pay. IF YOU GET THE JOB:
  • Learn the ropes: Quickly get an understanding of a company's procedures and protocols. Bosses don't like an employee who goes over their head or makes their own system.
  • Be independent: Employers are too busy to babysit. Do your work, do it efficiently and don't come in late, leave early or take a long lunch. Don't waste time blabbing incessantly.
  • We're all equal: No employee should be treated like an indentured slave. Show people respect or you'll find yourself unpopular and unemployed.
  • Be positive: "Who wants to promote someone who's a sad sack or half the time is depressed or yelling at people?" MacArthur said.

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