The Laid-Off Life: The Impression That I Get

Nancy Anderson
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"There are some people who leave impressions not so lasting as the imprint of an oar upon the water." – Author Kate Chopin
Thank you for your time, and we’ll be in touch.

If every new beginning is some other beginning’s end, then every end is a new start all on its own. So, let’s start from the end.

A lot of lip service - in the job hunt, in dating, in sales, in life - is paid to first impressions. You know, they say you never get a second chance to make a first impression (or a second chance to fix your parachute). But often and nearly always overlooked is your last impression. A really good pie can be excellent at the first bite, but if that final taste is sour, that’s your lasting impression of the pie. Bet you’ll never order that pie again, and maybe not even patronize that restaurant again. Pie faux pas FTL.

BRB – going to get some pie.

Same goes for life, and for our purposes, same goes for a job interview. We’ve discussed to death the do’s and don’ts of how to act and present yourself in your job interview: proper attire, firm handshake, well-designed résumé, rehearsed talking points, how not to umm-and-uhh, how to make eye contact, how to discretely slip a Tic-Tac. All things that are completely unrelated to the job you’re interviewing for and unconnected from any and all talent you have in your chosen field, but all things that are just as – or maybe even more – important to actually snagging the position you’re trying to get. We’re all human, and (believe it or not) so are the hiring managers and human resource reps we’re interviewing with. The truth is that just like anything, we have to work the system, and snatching up that perfect job is at best 40% talent and 60% getting them to like you. It’s a game you best be good at playing.

Maybe it’s unfair. If you’re generally timid or shy, or even overbearing and gregarious, you’re at a disadvantage. If you’re not good at expressing yourself and making people like you, you can have the greatest résumé ever and still not get the job. Conversely, you can even not be the most qualified candidate and still collar that gig with your winning personality. If someone likes you, they’re going to have a better and possibly inflated idea of your ability to do the job (trust me on that last part). You’re going to be a part of their team, and how they think you’ll fit and how you’ll relate to your co-workers is an important and key element in your personal profile.

Poor first impressions can dig you a hole you can’t get out of, and the impressions you garner through the course of an interview can win you a job. But what about that last piece of the literal and proverbial pie? A sour last taste in your interviewer’s mouth can sink your chances. Any interview you have will almost without deviation end with the following: "So, that’s all I’ve got, do you have any questions for me?"

Don’t you dare ever say, "No, I think we’ve covered everything already!" If you do, I’m coming to your house and flicking the back of your head with my finger in front of your children. Even if you have to make stuff up, ask questions. Sound engaged, sound proactive, sound interested. I can think of zillion things you can ask, but here are some generalized suggestions:
  • Why is this position open?
  • How can someone improve on what the last person did?
  • Who is your biggest competitor and what do they do right and wrong?
  • What will the new person need to accomplish in the first 90 days?
  • Why did you, Mr. or Mrs. Interviewer, come to this company?
  • How would you describe your management style and interaction with your staff?
  • What are the work environment and corporate culture like?
  • Can you describe a typical day in this position?
  • What have been the department's successes in the last couple of years?
  • What’s the makeup of the team as far as experience?
  • What are your major projects for the coming year?
  • When top performers leave the company why do they leave and where do they usually go?
And you can make the questions personal, and don’t be afraid to encourage an answer about your consideration for the position:
  • If hired, where do you see me in the company in the next five years?
  • Do you have any concerns about me fulfilling the responsibilities of this position?
  • Is there anything that I need to clear up in order to be the top candidate?
See how easy? Now, you’ve learned a lot more about the company, showed you’ve been paying attention and interest, and left a captivating last impression. Before leaving, make sure you mention anything else about yourself or your résumé that you feel hasn’t been addressed but should be, offer references (which you’ve printed out nicely to match your résumé), concisely remind your interviewer why you want the job and what you can offer, ask for the interviewer’s business card and contact information, ask (politely) what the timeframe for their filling the position is, and ask when do you expect to be informed of the next step in the process. Shake hands firmly and all-businesslike before leaving (and do NOT forget to say 'thank you' and smile), and whether your interviewer walks you out or you walk out on your own, remember that every step of leaving the meeting all the way to getting in to your car may be being watched by someone (even the receptionist) whose opinion matters. And make sure you follow up within 24 hours with a thank-you email.

Because your latest impression is your last impression, and your last impression is your latest impression. That’s why I leave you with this:

Michael Hochman
? Laid-Off Life on Twitter ? Laid-Off Life on Facebook

Michael is a Copywriter, Creative Marketer, and Broadcasting Professional still in search of full-time employment after 14 months of full-time job hunting, thanks to an "involuntary career sabbatical". A Philly native and Syracuse graduate, Michael will gladly accept any job offer you may have for him. Any. Really. Please give me a job??

"Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called everybody, and they meet at the bar." - Drew Carey

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