Gini Dietrich

First Impression: Eight Ways to Avoid a Bad One

By: Gini Dietrich | November 30, 2010 | 
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I’ve been curious about a phenomenon we’re seeing when we interview candidates these days. Their first impressions suck. Not everyone, but I’d venture to say 90 percent of them.Why do they suck? Because they’re not doing any research on Arment Dietrich nor are they reading Spin Sucks before they interview with us.

Maybe it’s because we’ve been using Twitter as our recruiting playground and people have gotten lazy because they feel like they know me, and I know them, so they just have to go through the process before they’re offered a job. But I’m here to tell you, that perception is wrong. It’s actually MORE disappointing to me if we interview someone I feel like I know pretty well online, just to have my team say, “Yeah, Gin. They sucked. They didn’t ask any questions and didn’t know who we work with every day. They’ve never even read the blog.”

I hear that AT LEAST once a week. I hear it so much we’re restructuring the way we interview. When you don’t do your research, you’re wasting my team’s time, you’re wasting your time, and you’re greatly disappointing me. Those first impressions you leave with my team? They’re lasting and nothing you can do will change their perception of what it would be like to work with you. And it doesn’t matter how much I like you online. If someone on my team got a really bad first impression from you, you won’t get a job here.

I’m here to help, though. Following are eight ways you can avoid a bad first impression and make it through the process to interview with the top decision maker (and hopefully get yourself a job).

1. Don’t complain about being out of work online. Not on Facebook. Not on Twitter. Not on your blog. Sure, you can write about what you’re looking for in a new job. You can even write about the lessons you’re learning by being out of work, but the second you moan and groan about how awful it is, we’re taking you off our potential talent list. Julie Walraven wrote a great post about that yesterday. Read it here.

2. Do your stinkin’ research. Come on, people! How hard is it to Google a company, Google the people you’re going to meet, visit the website, and read a few blog posts? Just like you like to have your ego stroked, the minute you make the people you’re interviewing with feel like you did a bit of work to find out more about them, the more likely they are to move you up the chain as a “YES! Please hire!”

3. Don’t offend the person interviewing you. I once interviewed a guy who said, “I Googled you and saw all these stories in big publications like USA Today and NY Times. But then I clicked on them and saw they’re just comments you’ve left. Don’t you have anything better to do?” Yeah. I ended the interview right then and there and, when the guy had the gall to ask me to open some doors for him at the bigger agencies, I told him in my nice Gini way to stick it.

4. Stalk the social networks. Most people, especially in PR and marketing, now have online profiles on the social platforms. See if you can find a company’s Facebook page, a Twitter profile, and Twitter profiles for the people you’ll be meeting. Look at Google profiles and Amplify and Hashable and Quora. Find ways to get to know the people you’ll be interviewing with BEFORE you actually meet them.

5. Use LinkedIn to get more information. Go into LinkedIn and look up the people you’re meeting with and see who you know in common. Then call those people to get more information on what you should know and the kinds of questions you should ask. A couple of weeks ago, a friend called me because she’s interviewing at a big agency in Chicago and she asked me a bunch of questions about the firm, such as what she should know about them, what kind of reputation they have, and what’s my outside perception of them. She also asked me what questions I would ask, if I were interviewing there. I was happy to help her and I’m pretty sure she’s well prepared for the interview now.

6. Prepare questions ahead of time. There is almost nothing more irritating to me than when a candidate has gone through a day of interviews and finishes with me and I ask if they have any questions. You’d be surprised how many times I hear, “Nope. I asked them all of the others.” Really? You don’t think the CEO might have a different perspective? You have nothing to ask me? Nope. And that’s when I end the interview. I don’t know if you asked the same questions already, but you’d better ask me something.

7. Be prepared to answer, “What change would you make on your first day?” I always ask that and, to use Megan as the example again, because she was interviewing for the chief financial officer position, she came to the interview with a spreadsheet that showed how we could generate revenue in other ways. I didn’t ask her for this. Heck, I hadn’t even asked, “What change would you make on your first day” yet. She was just prepared and between that and the amazing chemistry she and I have, she got the job. Hands down.

8. Demonstrate that you are well read. We’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth repeating. We always ask what people read. This is to see a) if they are a consumer of media (which is pertinent in our line of work) and b) to determine what kind of writer they likely are before they take the writing test. If you tell us you don’t have time to read or can’t list some of the most popular, as well as some of the obscure, PR and marketing blogs, you’re not going to get a job with us. And for heaven’s sakes…if you don’t say you read Spin Sucks and can talk about, intelligently, something you read here, you lose.

And one more tip for those of you in PR or marketing? If you’re not already following Help a PR Pro Out on Twitter, do so by following #HAPPO. Also check out the LinkedIn group. There likely is also a hashtag for your city. I’m the HAPPO champion in Chicago and our hashtag is #HAPPOCHI. More information can be found on Arik Hanson’s blog about a Twitter event on December 8 and an in real life, networking event toward the end of January.

So there you have. My tips for avoiding a bad first impression. What tips do you have?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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96 responses to “First Impression: Eight Ways to Avoid a Bad One”

  1. arikhanson says:

    LOVED this post, Gini. While I don’t hire people, I live out many of your tips on a regular basis when I meet with new clients and potential partners. I put numbers 2, 4, 5 an 6 to good use almost every time I meet with someone new. Simple Google search. Check their Twitter handle. Check them out on LinkedIn. And, I’m constantly surprised that the people I’m chatting with are surprised that I’ve done my homework on them ahead of time.

  2. arikhanson says:

    LOVED this post, Gini. While I don’t hire people, I live out many of your tips on a regular basis when I meet with new clients and potential partners. I put numbers 2, 4, 5 an 6 to good use almost every time I meet with someone new. Simple Google search. Check their Twitter handle. Check them out on LinkedIn. And, I’m constantly surprised that the people I’m chatting with are surprised that I’ve done my homework on them ahead of time.

  3. ginidietrich says:

    @arikhanson You are so right that this falls into client service, as well. And heck! Just in meeting friends or people for the first time in real life. I don’t know if we’re getting lazy or it’s just more prevalent now because we can see it.

  4. Thanks, Gini, for the reference and link. Yesterday’s post was voicing both a pet peeve and the desire I have for job seekers to succeed. Bright people who should know better commit all of these all the time. Interviews are stressful but being unprepared is just sily when you are up against so much competition. If you get as far as the interview, don’t forget to treat it seriously! You are so far ahead of those who can’t seem to get anyone to call them.

  5. arikhanson says:

    @ginidietrich I don’t think this is a new problem. It’s been around for years. I’m just disappointed more folks aren’t taking advantage of the tools that are now available. Think back 15 years. If you’re looking for a job at Edelman, there was no real way to know who worked there, what the org structure looked like, or who your boss would be (other than good, old-fashoined WOM). Today, a simple LinkedIn search takes care of that. Just surprised that more people aren’t using the tools as part of the interviewing process. With the dearth of information now avaialble (especially for agencies), there’s absolutely no excuse to show up to an interview under-prepared.

  6. ginidietrich says:

    @JulieWalraven I agree with you and it’s dumbfounding to me that people don’t do their research. I think it’s more rampant now…or I’m just not as tolerant and we interview differently these days.

  7. ginidietrich says:

    @arikhanson When we were looking for our first jobs, you mean. 🙂

  8. HowieSPM says:

    This is awesome stuff Gini. You had that previou post on interviewing that I really liked. Maybe you should open a recruiting division? I was lucky when I first saught a job I was coached by an entry level recruiter. Then when I was looking to change careers in 2007 I had an opportunity that was big dollars and was coached by a hend end recruiter. I didn’t get that job not because I did poorly, in fact they got rave reviews back but the company was seeking someone plug and play with an existing roledex which is something I did not have. Sadly I was not given a chance to over come that. If I had gotten the next interview I would have. It was a Sales position. I sell. I closed things with the Corp HR guy, but it was the local guy who was set in wanting the roledex.

    This is another big point on top of your 8. Think of the position you are interviewing for. You need to be that person. Megan as CFO showed you her skills with the spreadsheet. Sales people had better know how to ask questions, over come objections, and close. Marketers had better showcase their marketing skills. You can do this in an interview. Your resume and your references do not prove your skills. For a Sales position if I don’t ask for the job at the end or the next interview, they will think I can not ask for an order from a customer. Simple as that. Doesn’t matter how nice and smart I am.

  9. ginidietrich says:

    @HowieSPM Great, great point! Be the person of the job for which you’re interviewing!

  10. PRcreator says:

    I am most shocked by the fact that people meet you through Twitter and then DON’T read your blog? This is Social Media 101 — not just interviewing tips. If you tweet with someone, look at their Web site! I do this before I follow someone, so I know I’m interested and that we have something to offer each other. I am ashamed of how lazy my generation has gotten. Instead of using social media to our EXTREME advantage, we’re using it as a crutch. Sites like LinkedIn and Twitter and more company’s having blogs than ever before, there has never been a better way to get to know your potential boss and company. It’s never been easier to be prepared! Great post.

  11. a_greenwood says:

    Well said.

  12. a_greenwood says:

    Well said.

  13. ginidietrich says:

    @a_greenwood Man of many words!

  14. ginidietrich says:

    @PRcreator I love this comment! Just like @arikhanson and I were discussing, when we were looking for jobs, we didn’t have these tools. Now you have access to the freaking leadership at the companies where you’re interviewing. I’m with you – I don’t get it!

  15. wabbitoid says:

    All very good points. Of course, you’re preaching to the ol’ choir here since the people you want to reach most aren’t reading SpinSucks … 🙂

    I just want to apmplify #1 a little bit. I think it’s very easy to take what you’ve learned by being out of work and scratching and make it into a positive statement – or at least something like one. I also think there’s a lot of character in bucking up other people who are out of work and feeling down.

    When life gives you lemons, dig up some cream and eggs and a pie shell, make a lemon merengue pie, and whip it back at life! That is my motto (which, like everything I say, is a bit long – I’m working on it).

  16. Nourhy says:

    One would think that some of these tips would be common sense to most but apparently not. These are great tips even if your not interviewing for a job.

  17. ginidietrich says:

    @Nourhy One would think, huh?!

  18. ginidietrich says:

    @wabbitoid I agree with you and it’s likely we’d read what you write (which is really smart and very thoughtful) and be totally cool with it. What makes me nuts is people who friend me on Facebook and then whine about how much their life sucks every day.

  19. BethHarte says:

    Gini, your candor these past few days has been wonderful! 🙂

    I must just have crappy job interview experiences because a few times when I researched companies and did my homework regarding the market (which I always thought was a smart move as a marketer, right?), it was used against me. One guy literally got verbally violent on me. It was an after hours interview and no one was around, so I immediately ended the interview because on top of being nervous, I was put in the position of being afraid for my safety. In retrospect, I think I must have hit a nerve or uncovered a weakness with my research intelligence that he wanted no part of.

    On the flip side, I’d offer up that potential employers also do their homework on candidates. Years ago I was on an interview and the hiring manager asked me “What do you dislike most about marketing?” I asked him “Have you read my blog? It’s called The Harte of Marketing for a reason.” Then I said, “Yes, you know, actually there is something I dislike about marketing. It’s having a potential manager who isn’t as passionate about every area of marketing as I am.” And with that I thanked him for his time and ended the interview. To this day, I am not even sure he got my point. 😉

  20. ginidietrich says:

    @BethHarte I love you! VERY good point about employers doing their homework, too. Perhaps I’ll write a blog post about THAT! And, I’m telling you, if you weren’t already taken, I’d have you here in two seconds to interview for an executive position for Project Jack Bauer. I read your stuff and my heart longs to work with you. And if you found a weakness in our planning, I’d kiss you! But then…maybe that’d want you to end the interview!

  21. Sushi says:

    @Nourhy One would definitely think that. I’m amazed how many tip sheets say to research your employers. Shouldn’t that be obvious?!

  22. BethHarte says:

    @ginidietrich I really appreciate the vote of confidence, thank you Gini. 🙂

    Yes, it’s very important for employers to also look into future employees. Not to dig up ammunition to use against them, but to see how they really think, how they behave, if they screw up do they admit it & move on, etc., etc. However, that said, if someone who isn’t “social” is applying it doesn’t mean you can’t investigate and check their resume against what they said they did. For example, if they are in PR and their resume states some big PR hits, do a Google search to find them and check out the sentiment, what the media said, what customer reactions were, etc. It’s one thing to get picked up in the NYT, it’s something different if the sentiment is neutral or negative.

    I dig project Jack Bauer, just so you know…

    LOL! In my book, a future employer showing excitement/affection is better than hostility or stupidity, any day.

  23. barryrsilver says:

    You left out the obvious like be on time and dress properly, so at least you get a better quality of unqualified. My tip: Try to turn the interview so you (the candidate) can listen more than you talk. You’ll need to be able to do that if hired and it’s hard to sound dumb when listening.

  24. C_Pappas says:

    This is SO true and I even remember not having the research or tools available to ‘shop’ for my next job online. Remember pounding the pavement in painful shoes, a suit and a stack of resumes? We have such a great opportunity to get to know the person interviewing us before we even walk into the room (believe me, they already Googled us I am sure!) and have a genuine conversation wrapped around some professional speak.

    I am still amazed though at the laziness of people seeking jobs and I love your #1 because I think these are the people that complain openly. My heart goes go out to professionals who have lost their jobs and sincerely wish them the best of luck. Finding a job is a full-time job and should be treated as such. If you were a sales person, I would hope that you wouldn’t walk into a client site without researching them first. Same rules apply here. Remember: you are selling yourself!

  25. MatchesMalone says:

    It follows that it is possible to game even this system. A random catch all for your #6 is, “Why do you want to hire me?”

  26. BethLandis says:

    Great article Gini, excellent points! As a recent grad applying/interviewing for jobs, I love to hear what the employers point of view is, I love soaking up any tidbit of information that could potentially give me an edge. There is definitely so much to learn in this process – and if your looking you will find an excellent network of people online willing to share some wisdom on the subject! Thank you!

  27. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jenna Langer, Jenna Langer. Jenna Langer said: @jkretch Hey jkretch, I just mentioned you in my comment on "First Impression: Eight Ways to Avoid a Bad One": http://fyre.it/cY […]

  28. jennalanger says:

    This is part of the problem with recent graudates. We had a few applications for internships that were complete form letters and showed no research about our company or industry. The candidates that stood out showed enthusiasm for the product and that made the difference.

    I like #7 a lot. Recently I pulled out my old notebook and found a sheet of paper with ideas for the original livefyre that I brought when I first met jkretch . I was so excited to be involved there was no way he could say no to me (besides the fact that I was willing to work for free 🙂

  29. HowieSPM says:

    You failed to discuss showers. Is a pre-interview shower a good idea or can one be carried over from the previous week. Some places like Los Angeles and Las Vegas have limited water supplies.

  30. RicardoBueno says:

    Definitely love and agree with number’s 1 & 6. Never, ever be negative online (or otherwise). That’s my policy anyway. It just about always comes off bad. I don’t like negative people so I’m sure other’s feel the same way. And in regards to being prepared, whether it’s for a job interview, a new client proposal, etc., there’s nothing quite like being prepared and knowing that you hit it out of the ball-park so-to-speak. It’s a great feeling so do your homework and knock it out on the first try.

    Great post and tips Gini!

  31. ginidietrich says:

    @HowieSPM I don’t think showers are a necessity if you wear cologne or perfume. Massive amounts of it.

  32. ginidietrich says:

    @jennalanger SEE! If you had come into an interview with me and showed me some of those ideas (assuming they were good!), I would have hired you on the spot. It’s not that hard. You are someone new graduates should look up to, for sure!

  33. ginidietrich says:

    @BethLandis The fact that you’ll soak up information from employers gives you an edge. Trust me when I say, your competition isn’t doing it.

  34. ginidietrich says:

    @MatchesMalone Game the system? I am confused.

  35. ginidietrich says:

    @barryrsilver Barry, great, great point! When I hit publish I thought, “Oh shoot. I should have written about attire.” As my mom always says, “It’s better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.” While we don’t wear suits at work, I definitely see it as a sign of respect if you interview in a suit. But I also don’t hold it against you if you don’t. But too-tight clothes, cleavage, and short skirts are definitely a no-no.

  36. ginidietrich says:

    @BethHarte You’re right that a simple Google search is sometimes all you need. On both sides.

  37. ginidietrich says:

    @RicardoBueno I can’t reply to your comment so doing it here. You’re right that this falls into client proposals, too. Isn’t it so much better to go to a meeting with a new business prospect and have ideas you can discuss that get them excited to hire you?!

  38. Gini, great reminders for job seekers and anyone else who’s trying to drum up business. The guy belittling your blog commenting and questioning how you spend your time takes the cake!

    Being on both the hiring and applicant side of things, I’m amazed at how many people are clueless about basic research. These days, it couldn’t be easier either. With all the information at our fingertips, major lost points to those who don’t look into a company and its products.

    As for anyone not reading Spin Sucks, well shame on them! 😉

  39. Marc_Luber says:

    As a former recruiter who coached tons of attorneys on interviewing, I gotta say I love this post Gini! I was always blown away by how often 20 and 30-something attorneys from the top schools would not get it when it comes to your points above. Some tips I’d add would be to let your enthusiasm for the opportunity show and to let your personality show. If you’re interviewing somewhere, it’s hopefully because you have some enthusiasm for the company and/or opportunity. If the people interviewing you can’t feel that, you may not be leaving a BAD impression, but you’re at least leaving NO impression OR the impression that something is MISSING from you as a candidate…..and both of those may as well be a BAD impression since it will push you to the bottom of the pile. As for personality, candidates are often so concerned with getting all of these other points checked off their list that they forget that humans like to hire humans. No one wants to run to Starbucks or grab a quick lunch with a robot for a coworker. Be YOU and leave an impression behind of who YOU are because no impression is a bad impression.

  40. KevinVandever says:

    Great post, Gini! A colleague and I interviewed someone last week for a project management position. During the interview, the candidate stated: “I understand why you are changing your web site because I was on it the other day and it was slow and it goes all over the place, I couldn’t find anything”. The person interviewing with me was the designer and driver behind the web site. We didn’t hire that person, but we did end up pulling a funny prank on my colleague based on that interview so all was not lost.

    Also, I agree with Beth about the company doing its homework, too. Oh, and it helps to flatter the interviewer…uh, I mean, to put in the research. I had one guy go on about how much he enjoyed my book and how it helped him in his career. I asked him for examples to see if he really had any or was just sucking up, which is also cool, and it turns out that he had concrete examples. He had also commented on one of my opinion columns and I had remembered his comment (this is part of the company doing its homework).

    I also expect the person to have questions for me at the end, but I usually get nothing. I wonder if people think it a sign of weakness or feel it is risky to ask something that may have been covered during the interview process. Whatever the case, it is rare to get more than the, “nope, I’m good” answer at the end.

    Thanks for the post!

  41. @KevinVandever Just to play devil’s advocate here, WAS the site slow and difficult to navigate? If so, the designer’s wounded ego shouldn’t be a deciding factor in the hire.

    A candidate shouldn’t just be a yes man. Showing that they know the product should be a plus. Granted, I may not have been critical unless asked to provide criticism. However, if there was truth in the comment, I find that as no good reason to terminate someone’s candidacy.

    In regard to the candidate who read your book, that’s a great example of an applicant who’s smart! Very nice!

  42. jennalanger says:

    @ginidietrich Get this: I just interviewed an intern, anniedreshfield over Skype. She sent over her cover letter a week ago and did exactly what i like, showed enthusiasm for our product and excitement to learn. And what did she say today? Well, she had just read my comment here on this article! Now that’s doing your research. She’ll be working with us this summer, the amazing Livefyre Community Team continues to grow! 🙂

  43. ginidietrich says:

    @WordsDoneWrite Shame on them is right! LOL! It’s super irritating to my staff when someone interviews with us because they have a “relationship” with me and then it’s clear they haven’t taken the time to do their research. I think they’re likely harder on the candidate because of it, but I’m not going to stop that thinking one bit.

  44. ginidietrich says:

    @Marc_Luber I wonder if it’s because schools don’t teach us how to interview? Great tips on being you and letting your enthusiasm shine through, too. This is why you’re good at what you do!

  45. ginidietrich says:

    @WordsDoneWrite @KevinVandever I’m with Amber here. I mean, she did win the 8th grade best English student award. But I also love that you are Kevin in everything you do – including a prank joke on the poor guy you work with.

  46. ginidietrich says:

    @jennalanger anniedreshfield
    Annie? You rock! And now I’m going to follow you on Twitter, too!

  47. barryrsilver says:

    @ginidietrich But too tight clothes, too short skirts and too much cleavage is in the eye of the beholder, right? Seriously (well business seriously) I’m sure there are firms that would count wearing a suit for an interview as a negative, but when it comes to first impressions, conservative dress is safe. If there is a connection use personality to close the deal.

  48. @ginidietrich @KevinVandever Hee hee. Thanks, Gini! I’m just as proud as that as I am my Press Club awards. 🙂

  49. @ginidietrich Well, and really, DOUBLE SHAME on them. For someone who has a relationship with you to be anything but stellar when meeting your colleagues is really pretty thoughtless. Because of your prior online relationship, it kind of implies a loose recommendation from you (only because you’ve deemed them worthy of your time and energy). That alone should mean that the applicant will do right by you and not embarrass you.

    I need to start issuing tickets to those who lack common sense. Geez.

  50. KevinVandever says:

    @WordsDoneWrite @ginidietrich @KevinVandever Great points! You play devil’s advocate well. I agree that we shouldn’t dismiss the candidate over what he said about our site. The site is slow to load so he was right with that comment. The other stuff regarding navigation and not being able to find anything is not something we’ve heard from others nor experienced ourselves. I think he could have done quite well if he had delivered the statements in a different manner, as you said, showing that he knows the site, but he came off too condescending and put my colleague on the defensive, which, right or wrong, didn’t help him much. His condescending tone carried through the whole interview so we didn’t feel he’d be a good fit for the position. That, and he failed to mention my book. He’s dead to me!

    Gini, I won the Best Disposition award in 3rd grade, so there!

  51. rachaelseda says:

    I love this post! Great points! I went and spoke to students at the university I graduated from to offer advice on life after graduation and suggested just about all of these points. These are all simple things you can do to stand out and land a job. If you are going to be lazy about an interview – that’s a bad sign.

    The not having questions prepared is a big one…at least have some written down and in a portfolio so if you are overwhelmed by the end of the interview you can glance at your notes! One tip I would add is to think of every possible question an interviewer might ask you prior to the interview. Think about your answers…talk them out aloud to yourself….or even write them down, this will only help your prepare and be ready to answer those difficult questions. AND yes please study! There is no excuse with the internet and social networks…there is a lot you can find out about a person and a company. Always bring your “A” game 😉

  52. rachaelseda says:

    I love this post! Great points! I went and spoke to students at the university I graduated from to offer advice on life after graduation and suggested just about all of these points. These are all simple things you can do to stand out and land a job. If you are going to be lazy about an interview – that’s a bad sign.

    The not having questions prepared is a big one…at least have some written down and in a portfolio so if you are overwhelmed by the end of the interview you can glance at your notes! One tip I would add is to think of every possible question an interviewer might ask you prior to the interview. Think about your answers…talk them out aloud to yourself….or even write them down, this will only help your prepare and be ready to answer those difficult questions. AND yes please study! There is no excuse with the internet and social networks…there is a lot you can find out about a person and a company. Always bring your “A” game 😉

  53. Great post.
    One can’t underscore enough the power of asking questions in an interview. Even if it doesn’t secure the job, the interview should be two-way – don’t you want to know more about the business practices and culture where you’re committing yourself?
    It had been a few years since my last interview as I started my own business directly out of college, but I had to swallow some pride recently and apply for a part time job. After I was offered the position, the guy who hired me said that it was my initiative to engage in the interview with questions and comments that made me stand out from other qualified candidates.
    The way I see it (like your CFOs revenue generation ideas), if what one has to offer isn’t wanted, take those talents somewhere else where they will be appreciated, but don’t be passive in expressing who you are and what value you can bring – otherwise you may be ousted as a candidate or worse, working in an environment wholly unsuited for you. I’m young, inexperienced, and often, naive, but that’s my take on it.

  54. ginidietrich says:

    @KevinVandever @WordsDoneWrite I won a Frisbee throwing contest in kindergarten!

  55. ginidietrich says:

    @rachaelseda Yeah! What she said!

  56. ginidietrich says:

    @JamesDBurrell2 Your point about the candidate interviewing the company is a really good one. How, on earth, can you know you want to work somewhere if you’re the one who has done all the talking? I’d say you are right on track!

  57. sherrilynne says:

    This post is both good and disappointing. It’s good that you take your time to offer tips and advice to candidates. It’s good that you remain optimistic enough to make the effort to educate supposedly bright people about the bleeding obvious. However it’s disappointing that you have to. I’m afaid I’m more of a cynic than you. Here are some tips I put together out of frustration well over a year ago http://sherrilynnestarkie.com/2009/05/31/top-tips-to-get-a-job-in-pr/

  58. ginidietrich says:

    @sherrilynne You’re right – it IS disappointing! I guess I look at it as educating those bright, young minds coming out of school who weren’t taught how to interview during college. If someone experienced interviews here and behaves this way, we just write them off. There is no education and there is tons of cynicism…which is really what got me to this spot to begin with. Off to read your post now!

  59. […] Twitter feed and noticed the Community Manager was interacting in a conversation about an article; I followed the link. And what did I find? The article was about pet peeves employers have about job/internship […]

  60. rachaelseda says:

    @JamesDBurrell2 Yes you are interviewing them too! They have to sell the job and place to you as well!

  61. annebuchanan says:

    Gini —

    What a great post. Thank you for taking the time to articulate what a lot of us employers are seeing.

    Two thoughts: Interviewing is a contact sport that requires a candidate to make eye contact, carry the conversational ball when it’s her turn, and play an active role in the exchange. I sometimes worry that the newest crop of graduates has become overly dependent on technology, at the expense of Real Life Interaction. Practice talking to others. Engage with adults. Learn how to carry and steer a conversation.

    My other comment is this: It is true that we see a lot of candidates who need to strengthen their interviewing and research skills. But the flip side for me is that when I see an emerging star, they stand out like a meteor. In a perverse sort of way, it almost makes it easier to spot the good ones.

    Anne

  62. 3HatsComm says:

    @ginidietrich @WordsDoneWrite I’ll triple that shame and wonder if they’ve really thought about the job? Sure they have an airquote “relationship” with you, but given that they haven’t taken the time to read the blog, research the firm.. do they REALLY understand the gig for which they’re applying?

  63. @ginidietrich @KevinVandever Geez, you two. We all know nothing before 8th grade counts. If it did, I’d win because I was named Best Baby Ever in the Entire Universe in a contest sponsored by the Best Babies Association. Man, respect the title, eh? 😉

  64. 3HatsComm says:

    Grrr.. my comment was eaten. Anyway.. I’m a solo PR so I have not interviewed others, but had plenty of job and client interviews. Hard to believe someone would not do the research, try to fake a connection in this way. Sad that you have to call it out, it’s basic job interviewing. Research, connections, prepare. DUH.

    For the Q&A part, a friend of mine was getting ready to sit for her dissertation defense and I told her to think of the 3-5 questions she dreads the most. Now answer them. Being that prepared for the tough stuff will give you more confindence, maybe help you come up with your own good questions.

    My tip is don’t front, or once more, with Velveeta “be yourself.” Doesn’t mean show up in jeans and curse like a fool or in a suit you can’t afford and spew jargon and name-drop when you don’t know what your talking about. Just means that someone like you would be savvy enough to spot a faker faking it, so no reason to try. Keep it real, FWIW.

  65. ginidietrich says:

    @annebuchanan Sad that we have to have these reminders at all, but you’re right about practicing with another human being.

  66. ginidietrich says:

    @3HatsComm OMG! Such a great point about cursing. I had a final interview with a candidate everyone LOVED! She used the F word no less than 10 times in her interview with me and I thought, “I’d never her trust her alone with clients.” So we didn’t hire her.

  67. 3HatsComm says:

    Gini, Hmm.. this is sorta sounding like bad blind dates, all of these obvious DON’Ts. I’m sure there are stories out there about gum smacking, flip-flop sandals and work-inappropriate jokes. Let me amend my tip: be your best PROFESSIONAL self.

  68. @3HatsComm Gum smacking merits an immediate point toward the exit. Way to show me that after 20+ years of actively participating in society, you’re unable to glean the fact that chewing gum in public is considered improper manners & an annoyance. Go hide with the other dull browns in the box of crayons; you’re not impressing anyone.

  69. JonHearty says:

    Great post ginidietrich . It’s great to see your views on this subject applied to your business; it provides a clear, real-world example of what works and what does not. Because of the tools and networks available in today’s social space, these tips are relevant to not only the hiring process, but also other various forms of prospecting and business development. Keep the Arment Dietrich examples flowing!

  70. Fabulous tips, and power to the HAPPO champs! 😉

    I definitely agree with you on the not asking questions point. It drives me crazy any time I’m interviewing someone and they look at me blankly when I give them the chance to ask questions about my role or my company.

    Preparation and confidence (not cockiness…big difference!) are two huge factors that can make or break a job opportunity.

  71. […] Dietrich gives you 8 ways to avoid making a bad first impression over at Spin […]

  72. EdwardMBury says:

    Please let me add: 1. Make sure your clothes match.2. Avoid picking your nose.
    Seriously, being prepared with questions, having a positive online profile and reading the company blog (I do read Spin Sucks, by the way) are all fine. But public relations is a relationship-oriented profession, and face-to-face communications remains paramount even in today’s increasingly online world.
    Any candidate for a position in public relations — or any profession for that matter — has to look professional and have the ability to participate in a conversation that takes place across a meeting table, as well as one involving a keyboard.

  73. RichBurghgraef says:

    Great article Gini. Interesting spin on the research. I expect people I interview to have some understanding of what we do, but I also want them to ask questions so they can better understand. If you’ve done your research and act like you know everything there is to know about us, you will definitely turn me off. Heck, I started the company and like to think I have my hand in most of what we do and I don’t even know everything there is to know!

    I look for people who are interviewing me as much as I interview them. My biggest problem is being in sales, my job is to develop relationships for a living. It is tough sometimes to sit back and let someone develop a relationship with me; but I want to see how they build rapport. I also want them asking me questions and really listening to the answers. Too many people ask questions to sound prepared, but then get into the job and really don’t have a feel if it is actually a good fit for them.

    Finally, I hate being late and hate when people are late. If you are 10 minutes late for an interview, you will wait 15 for me to come out to talk to you. Of course, things happen beyond our control. I interviewed a candidate for a sales position in our Raleigh office a few weeks ago. He had a sales meeting that ran a little long so he called me to say his GPS showed that he would be arriving about 5 minutes late so he wanted to apologize for making me wait for him. I told him to take his time and that I appreciated his respect in letting me know he was going to be a bit late. What I didn’t tell him was that by doing that, he started out head and shoulders above the other candidates before we had even met.

  74. johnheaney says:

    Gini,
    You touched on one of my biggest interview FAIL moments: the candidate with no questions. I cannot understand how someone can prepare for an interview, research a company and the people they’ll interview with and, after hours spent with assorted individuals, have no questions unanswered.
    My guess is that they’ve exhausted their prepared business related questions (what are your goals in the next few years, what are your key markets, how is the organization structured, etc.) and fail entirely to discuss the most important question of any job: how will I fit into your culture?
    The culture issue opens so many avenues of discussion: how would you describe your corporate culture, how did you create it, how do you maintain it, who fits in here and why, why did you create it, what were your motivations, how do you know when it’s successful?
    I would bet, Gini, that you could talk for hours about your motivations and goals in creating an organization that reflects your personal values and ambitions. And they have NO questions?
    Sorry, but being intellectually inquisitive is one of my essential hiring requirements. It may not be in the job description, but it’s there.

  75. johnheaney says:

    @ginidietrich @KevinVandever @WordsDoneWrite Spelling Bee. 2nd Grade. Gold. Nuff said.

  76. SassyShenetta says:

    Such good tips. As you know – when I was searching, I looked online and did research like I was studying for a thesis. I especially love the comment about the complaining – I HATE it when people tweet specific things about their company or how much the job (or not having a job) stinks. I might have said things in private, but you would never have known I was looking or unhappy at my old job by looking at my Twitter feed – and I definitely didn’t bash anyone in my interview. I know some people who answer the question “why are you interested in this company” with “because the old company I worked for is awful and I want more money”. Not good 🙂 And ALWAYS say thank you or follow up with thank you notes regardless of the outcome. Anyway, I’m babbling. Thanks for another great post!

  77. JohnnyBoy says:

    So I’m going to be that guy and point out a proofreading error; “we’re taking your off our potential talent list.” Shouldn’t it be we’re taking YOU off our potential talent list?

  78. JohnnyBoy says:

    So I’m going to be that guy and point out a proofreading error; “we’re taking your off our potential talent list.” Shouldn’t it be we’re taking YOU off our potential talent list?

  79. ginidietrich says:

    @JohnnyBoy YES! Thank you!!

  80. ginidietrich says:

    @SassyShenetta And something that you did, that I’ve never seen before in someone looking for a new job. You came at it from the approach of learning. “How can I do this better?” and “What should I do in this case” and “How would you handle this situation?” You never once complained about your job and THAT was extremely impressive to me.

  81. ginidietrich says:

    @johnheaney A-freaking-men! I have HUGE vision for where my business is going and (of course) I love to talk about it. But I never do…unless I’m asked. I figure I’m not going to tell you what we’re doing behind closed doors if you don’t show some interest. It’s very, very rare that I expect to be asked questions and be able to talk. I’m a listener. I’m an absorber. I’m a thinker. I ask a ton of questions and form opinions and ideas later. When I meet someone for the first time. When I see friends. When I’m with clients. Even in staff meetings. I rarely do all the talking. But you had better ask me some questions and let me talk if you want to work here. #thatisall

  82. ginidietrich says:

    @RichBurghgraef LOL! I do the same thing – make someone wait for me if they’re late. We’re buggers, aren’t we?!

  83. ginidietrich says:

    @EdwardMBury What?! You can’t pick your nose in an interview? I must raise my standards.

  84. ginidietrich says:

    @JonHearty LOL! It’s hard to keep them flowing, but I’ll try. Most days we just do our jobs and end it with a glass of wine. 🙂

  85. ginidietrich says:

    @JamesDBurrell2 @3HatsComm “Go hide with the other dull browns in the box of crayons.” LOL!!!

  86. JGoldsborough says:

    No. 7 is smart and different. Solid way to differentiate candidates and not waste time. And you want people who aren’t afraid to bring ideas to the table. We don’t have time for you to wait a year until you’re comfortable.

    First impressions are an issue worth talking about, and I don’t think it’s just people applying for jobs. We need to understand we make first impressions every day, online and in person. When you start a new job, you make first impressions on the staff members you don’t know. You may have been at a job five years, but the first time you meet with a new client, that’s another first impression. Think your reputation buys you an ounce of credibility with people you haven’t met? Well, maybe an ounce. But not much more. Be on your game or be prepared to sit on the bench.

    Btw, I know you’re much too kind to do this, but think about if you had outed Joe Tactless you mentioned in the post who asked if you had anything better to do than comment on blog posts and news stories. In other words, Joe, you just said you don’t believe in thought leadership or building relationships. And Gini could have tied you to that comment on one of the most popular PR blogs out there and on a post with 79 comments. How would that have been for a first impression? Or should I say last impression for anyone who read it.

  87. ValerieSimon says:

    Great post. Could not agree more regarding the importance of research… on the company, the people you my be interviewing/ potentially working with, the industry… And of course follow up afterwards. Beyond a simple thank you note/email (which I assume you will take the time to do), follow up via social networks or by passing along an article or info that may be of interest. Use your interview conversation to begin building a relationship. It is fine to say that you are “detail oriented” or always follow up, but demonstrating you are is far more impressive.

    And Congratulations to both Arment Dietrich and Megan… sounds like a great addition to your team!

  88. ValerieSimon says:

    Great post. Could not agree more regarding the importance of research… on the company, the people you my be interviewing/ potentially working with, the industry… And of course follow up afterwards. Beyond a simple thank you note/email (which I assume you will take the time to do), follow up via social networks or by passing along an article or info that may be of interest. Use your interview conversation to begin building a relationship. It is fine to say that you are “detail oriented” or always follow up, but demonstrating you are is far more impressive.

    And Congratulations to both Arment Dietrich and Megan… sounds like a great addition to your team!

  89. […] opened its doors. But please do not ask any questions that will offend the person interviewing you (check out number three on this post from Gini Dietrich on Spin Sucks – […]

  90. […] friend of ours, Gini Dietrich of Arment Dietrich, recently posted on her blog, Spin Sucks, a few tips for making a good first impression when interviewing for a job, going over several of the things she expects out of those who apply […]

  91. RandomShelly says:

    I tried to comment on this on the iPad and couldn’t (no idea)- anyway – I loved the points! and I was trying to tell you my recent story…

    I interviewed for a position – DId a tech interview with the CIO, who then asked if I wanted to come to their Microsoft event the following day – I went and when I walked in and said HI! – He said “You’re RandomShelly, I recognize you from your picture…” so I said, “Oh you googled me!” he said, “Yep!” and believe it or not, I got called back for an interview with the CEO (who I asked lots of questions of) – I had read their site and was prepared – and that is where I work now! 🙂

  92. ginidietrich says:

    @RandomShelly I LOVE THIS STORY!!!

  93. […] of ours, Gini Dietrich of Arment Dietrich, recently posted on her blog, Spin Sucks, a few tips for making a good first impression when interviewing for a job, going over several of the things she expects out of those who apply for a job at her […]

  94. […] a brand new face without followers or clout (yes real clout!). You only have one chance for first impressions and you have to go with your gut. Contrary to wedding crashing, crashing conversations online can […]

  95. […] Dietrich gives you 8 ways to avoid making a bad first impression over at Spin […]

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