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Important Interview Odds & Ends [update 8-29 - I got the job!]

The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
edited August 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
In just shy of two weeks I have an interview scheduled for a position that is, essentially, a slam-dunk as far as experience and specialization is concerned. My concern is that while I've spent the last three years doing this work in the non-profit sector, I'm interviewing for a position across the aisle with a major mortgage servicer.

I'm a bit nervous because I'm very comfortable and used to interacting with individuals and entities within the non-profit sector which, understandably, tends to be more "relaxed" compared to large banks. There are a few things I'm slightly worried/nervous/scared about, as I'm really, really hopeful that this will turn out well. The job itself is specifically perfect for my development and background, and these sorts of opportunities don't come along very often in my location. In the two or so years I have consistently sought postings, this is the first of it's kind that has been based out of my city that I've been able to come across.

Background, if necessary, is that this is a long-term applicant search. I submitted a resume early last month and completed a first phone interview. I was called last week to come in for a face-to-face second interview in two weeks, and the final decision, I was told, would probably be made around late August/early September. The process alone is stretched to nearly three months, which is far from the usual 2-3 day turn around time from resume out to hired I've had for my last three positions in the non-profit world.

Questions that are still lingering:
*I have my eyebrow pierced with a pretty unobtrusive barbell. Behind my glasses it can barely be seen and most people don't even notice. I have never been concerned before, but I'm thinking it's probably a good idea to put in a retainer for the interview to be safe, right? The direct supervisor for the position is located in the south, which tends to have different standards than the northeast.
*References will, in all likelihood, be asked for. I'm having a dilemma in which I believe I can easily provide two good individuals, but I'm a bit stumped for the third and am considering listing an individual that I worked with for a hobby-like "business". He's a author and I published a small collection of his work. Are there any issues with this, as he doesn't have any real professional experience with anything close to relevant?
*I'll be wearing a suit and getting a good haircut the week before, is there anything presentation wise I may be overlooking?
*I'm a heavy smoker, and while this has never been a problem before, I have always been told to not smoke before an interview. I'm, frankly, not really capable of this as otherwise I'll be a nervous wreck. I'm willing to take the chance, but any suggestions on how to not smell like a smoker, even if I have a cigarette 20-30 minutes before it begins?

Lastly, I'm prone to read into things quite a lot. I'm maintaining a confident, "I'm perfect for this" attitude (I am), and feel like I'm being seen as a strong candidate. I'm curious if anyone has been in corporate hiring positions and would know if being made the very first interview in a 2-3 day interview period either could mean something as I was certainly not the first one to go during the first round of phone interviews? (I'm pretty much aware that the answer to this is that I'm being an over-analyzing goof).

Any other advice or words of warning are always appreciated. I know I'm probably stressing over little things, but I want to do my due diligence in ensuring that I feel ready to walk in that door.

The Crowing One on
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Posts

  • NeylaNeyla Registered User regular
    Being once a heavy smoker (almost 2 months smoke free now!), you always "think" you don't smell. But if they are a non-smoker, they will always smell it. best you can do to "minimize it" is smoke outside that day (good ventilation, so no smoking on the drive to!), wash your hands thoroughly with soap after each butt, and spritz some of your colonge into your hair. Just remember that clothes and hair are the worst for holding the smell.

    I am sure you will already be sucking on breath mints before hand as well ;)

    Good luck!

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  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    Skip the cologne and go for some febreeze on your shirt, a good scrub of your hands, and a breath mint. Don't smoke with your suit jacket on!!

    Take the barbell out. It's unprofessional in the banking sector in all parts of the country, not just in the south.

    Do they NEED 3 references? two good ones are better than two good ones and one dodgy one. Is there a client at your NPO that you can use, someone you helped out that can sing your praises rather than someone who sounds unrelated to the job?

    Go for the red tie. Power tie ftw.

    Being the first interview is usually good. You set the bar, and so only better candidates can beat you out for the job at that point. At least, that's how I always felt when I was conducting the interviews!

  • EshEsh Tending bar. Eating out. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    Maybe get some nicotine gum? With Febreze or cologne you still smell like smoke. Just with an added layer of perfume. If you MUST do one, make it Febreze. Wearing cologne to an interview is pretty unprofessional.

    And yeah, ditch the barbell. I wouldn't even put the spacer in. You'd be surprised what people can notice.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."

    Final Fantasy XIV:Lilja Sunblade
  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    I'm absolutely going to be trying to minimize the smoke-smell/smoking. I've been somewhat spotty on using it, but I have an e-cig that can take the edge off a bit. I'm going to stick with that best I can. I think I have some gum around from an aborted quit attempt. I didn't even think of that, but I'm sure it'll help!

    I'm so very not familiar with banking from the corporate side. No piercing at all? I'm hoping that I won't have to completely remove it, but it may just be a trade-off if I get the job. For the interview it will be gone.

    Do you think the tie is necessary? I've never been a tie guy (it didn't even register), but now that I'm thinking about it, it's probably a must, right?

    The position, fyi, is a mid-range "specialist" type. A step or two above a case manager-type and my area of responsibility would cover the entire state (I'd be the only one). I'm sure that just reinforces the idea that I should really be as slick and professional as I possibly can be. Not really much of a chance of overdressing (I won't be in my tux), I would think?

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  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    I'd go for the tie, even if you're not really a tie guy. Worst case scenario is you've over dressed a little for the interview, a quick step into a lavatory and you can ditch the tie in a pocket or a briefcase if you feel it's too out of place for the environment (hint: it won't be).

    Ringo wrote: »
    Well except what see317 said. That guy's always wrong.
  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    Oh hey! That's reminds me...

    I usually carry around a nice Victorinox messenger bag, but I also have a brown leather satchel and a black leather computer bag I use from time to time. I'm guessing that I should probably use whichever of those is in the best condition and avoid the messenger bag entirely? Would it matter?

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  • EshEsh Tending bar. Eating out. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    Wear a tie. Definitley.

    Use the brown leather satchel.

    And yeah, if you get the job, the piercing is gone gone gone.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."

    Final Fantasy XIV:Lilja Sunblade
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    What Esh said.

    Also if you're intent on quitting smoking, if you're asked about "what's your greatest weakness" you can play off that.

    Good luck.

  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    Honestly, for a banking job interview, I wouldn't show up in anything other than a suit.

  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    bowen wrote:
    Also if you're intent on quitting smoking, if you're asked about "what's your greatest weakness" you can play off that.

    That's one of those things that I'm just not going to touch, if it doesn't get brought up. No reason to advertise that I'm a smoker.

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  • ParielPariel Registered User regular
    There are lots and lots of smokers in the corporate world. One of my coworkers is gone after lunch every day for a smoke. I wouldn't advertise it, but don't be afraid to own up to it either. If you really are looking to quit, mention it if the subject arises. As said above, non-smokers can normally recognize a smoker pretty quick by smell.

    Definitely go for the tie, and a professional bag and notebook/whatever you're carrying your extra resumes in.

    Make sure you've taken a look at samples of behaviour-based interview questions. Your expertise is at best only equally as important as the experiences you can draw on -- and you might not be able to remember them at a moment's notice.

    To repeat spool32's question, do you need three references? If not, give them two, if so, give them the best you've got. What people say about you often matters more than who they are (although that is often quite important as well). Showing the diversity of your experiences is often helpful as well; three similar references don't tell an employer much.

  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    Pariel wrote:
    To repeat spool32's question, do you need three references? If not, give them two, if so, give them the best you've got. What people say about you often matters more than who they are (although that is often quite important as well). Showing the diversity of your experiences is often helpful as well; three similar references don't tell an employer much.

    In actuality I haven't been asked for references, but I want them ready in case they ask for them. For something like this I can't imagine they wouldn't check.

    I'll ready the two (one from a previous employer and one from my time as the executive president of a non-profit, both which are very relevant). They need need a third I can work something out.

    I'm good in interview, and I have a stock of probably 20-30 specific stories/events that I tend to use to "toot my horn" in interviews/presentations/trainings/etc. I have no fears about the interview, itself, just the bits and pieces that I'm not thinking about because I've been non-profit for so long.

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  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    So this is probably a silly question, but what's considered a conservative tie these days? Is skinny still hip? was it ever hip? I'm so clearly not a tie person.

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  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    This, or something like it. Skinny is not hip, and if it was, you would want to avoid it. Banking sector = conservative dress! Being cool is not part of the interview process. :-)

    spool32 on
  • EshEsh Tending bar. Eating out. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    spool32 wrote:
    This, or something like it. Skinny is not hip, and if it was, you would want to avoid it. Banking sector = conservative dress! Being cool is not part of the interview process. $-)

    Thinner ties are fine. Skinny isn't really though, but that doesn't mean you need to wear your dad's ties from the 70s.

    I generally either take a fashionable female friend with me, or let the people at Nordstrom advise me. They're generally pretty good about that sort of thing as it's their job. J. Crew actually has some really nice stuff nowadays as well.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."

    Final Fantasy XIV:Lilja Sunblade
  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    Ditch the bag. You're not spending the night. Grab a $10 black padfolio at Staples/OfficMAX/Kinkos.

    Bring 5 copies of your resume and references on heavier-weight paper if possible. Anything labeled "Ink Jet" is OK, just try to avoid "copier" paper. I'd put that third reference down. Label it as "personal" or "professional," or maybe "contract work"?

    As for the scheduling, usually the better candidates are interviewed first, but could just be how it worked out. They could offer on the spot, or a month from now, just depends on their urgency and process.

    Excision wrote: »
    My girlfriend is going down tonight!

    Steam:MichaelLC
  • DhalphirDhalphir don't you open that trapdoor you're a fool if you dareRegistered User regular
    If you smoke beforehand, you are not going to be able to disguise it completely from a non-smoker. That stuff is impossible to miss as a non-smoker. The best you can hope for is to minimise it to a degree where they won't be bothered by it, but that also depends on the person.

    if you have ANY other recourse for eliminating nerves than a real cigarette, do it.

    Tube-san wrote:
    I apologise for my rudeness desu.
  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    Agreed on the suggestion to ask the sales dude. He will know what's in, and not sucker you. Men's Wearhouse, Nordstrom's, Jos. A. Bank, anywhere they sell suits they will have one dude who can point you to a stylish tie for less than $20.

  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    Awesome. Thanks for all the feedback! I think I have everything necessarily, but I'll revive if anything else freaks me out.

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  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    I wanted to pop in for a short update. Had the interview this morning and I think it went very well.

    Lasted about 40 minutes. The first half was going over my work history and general interview questions (which overlapped some with my first interview) and the second half was when they re-phrased themselves about wanting someone they, essentially, liked and wanted to work with as there are, apparently, a lot of collaborative aspects. We ended up joking and swapping stories all tangentially related for about 15-20 minutes. We all seemed to get along well.

    At one point they shifted their language to a "she'll give you..." as opposed to a "would give you..." for a section concerning a very specific thing that they had been working on. I feel like I'm reading into it too much. I still believe that I'm a very strong candidate.

    It'll be another 3 weeks before a decision gets made, so I'm not certain if there's anything else, really, to ask about unless anyone can think of anything else.

    Oh, wait.

    So I keep getting advised to sent a follow-up note to the interviewers. In this case all communication has been done through a HR rep, and I have none of their contact info. Should I follow-up, and what would be the best way (through HR? track down their emails?). Both interviewers are also on vacation until they come back to make a decision.

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  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    Ideally you get someone's card at the end of the interview as you ask when you can expect a call back. I have a hard time with it too.

    Since they'll be on vacation, I'd just ask the rep for their e-mail. Or you can probably figure out the convention if the rep is from their company: Say rep is John Smith, and his email is jsmith@acme.com, so you can guess they'll be FLast@acme.com.

    Excision wrote: »
    My girlfriend is going down tonight!

    Steam:MichaelLC
  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    MichaelLC wrote:
    Ideally you get someone's card at the end of the interview as you ask when you can expect a call back. I have a hard time with it too.

    Since they'll be on vacation, I'd just ask the rep for their e-mail. Or you can probably figure out the convention if the rep is from their company: Say rep is John Smith, and his email is jsmith@acme.com, so you can guess they'll be FLast@acme.com.

    I know their emails, if necessary, through my being in the industry for so long. They didn't give me ANY contact at all.

    They do all contact through a different HR person and they gave me their call-back schedule without giving contact info. I dunno, but I don't think they expect nor consider to be necessary a follow-up?

    The Crowing One on
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  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    I'd send short emails to both of them saying what a pleasure it was speaking to them today about the Butt Inspector position, and as you discussed today, your time at ButtTech really made you an excellent inspector.

    Excision wrote: »
    My girlfriend is going down tonight!

    Steam:MichaelLC
  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    A quick update. I received a call about 20 minutes ago. I got the job.

    Thanks to everyone who chimed in and lent a hand of support. You all are the best.

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  • ceresceres Just your problem OooModerator mod
    Congratulations! :D

    I've got my own life and I've got my own plans
    I hope you understand, and like the way that I am
    Dear Satan...
  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    Congrats!

    You'll :bz perfect for the job.

    Excision wrote: »
    My girlfriend is going down tonight!

    Steam:MichaelLC
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