There are a lot of people out there looking for jobs these days, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to give a little advice about interviewing – and what you shouldn’t do if you want to get the job. I recently interviewed several individuals for a position that was open at my law firm (I”m a DUI lawyer). The market for lawyers of any kind is tight, so I had a lot of good, qualified candidates. The ones that made the interview were the best. All they had to do was stand out against the others, and not do anything dumb. Most did. One didn’t.
We all know the things you should do in an interview: act interested, be prepared to show you know something about the company, read up on the people that will likely be interviewing you, practice. That’s easy. But so often people forget one of the most important rules – there is room for sarcasm and fun, but if you don’t back that up with something serious, you’re going to look foolish.
Here’s what I’m talking about. I was interviewing these potential candidates for my Tacoma DUI lawyer position. The candidates that made it to the interview were all good. To help me decide, I gave each an opportunity to tell me why they thought I should choose them over everyone else – a bit of a closing argument, if you will. I didn’t give them any other instructions other than that – show me you want to be here.
Most of the answers were pretty good. I don’t know if they’d practiced or if they just wanted the job that bad, but I was pretty impressed. I guess it’s amazing what you can come up with when you don’t have any other options but to just go for it. But some fell very flat. And one, in particular, violated the rule that I just discussed. This person said, “my birthday is on Monday, and it would be a great birthday present.” And that was it.
Now that’s a great example of what I mean by using sarcasm and not backing it up. Sure, they could have started with that and it would have been just fine. We both would have shared a chuckle. He could have said, “Seriously though, I don’t take off for my birthday. I normally just keep working.” But when nothing followed, it just fell flat. I didn’t have anything to think except: (1) this person will not be the next DUI lawyer in my office; and (2) I hope they come up with something better than that if they’re in trial.
Bottom line, if you you’re interviewing a little sarcasm is okay, if that’s who you are. But don’t forget to give them more. They are trying to decide if you are a good fit for their company. Most companies need more than sarcasm to be successful.