How to behave in an interview, from a guy who’s been doing them for 23 years

My son is looking for a job now; he’s a college senior hoping to snag something before he graduates in May. There are a lot of people he could talk with to figure out what employers look for in new hires.

One of them isn’t going to be me.

I understand. I’m his father. How much can I really know?

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Let’s not forget I’ve held this job for nearly 23 years, which these days seems like a real career buzz-kill. How much can I really know about finding employment when my entire career encompasses three jobs?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened an interview with this initial statement — “What questions do you have for me?” — and been greeted with a blank look and absolutely no response. None.

So he’s not asking for my advice. But as a parent, that’s not going to keep me from doling it out.

For example, I recently suggested it’s a good idea to leave for interviews at least 15 minutes, maybe even 30 minutes, earlier than you expect it will take to get there, just in case traffic is bad or something unexpected slows you down.

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“Why do I need to leave that early?” he asked, speaking as someone who thrives (and always delivers) on last-minute heroics.

“Because no employer likes to be kept waiting by someone who wants a job,” I told him, speaking from experience.

Over the years, it seems as if half of the people who showed up for interviews here were late and, making matters worse, many were unapologetic. Presumably, they’re working somewhere else now.

And then there are the gum-chewers who smack away while talking about themselves during the interview. Hey, why not pull out a bag of potato chips and a couple of beers to share while talking about your education and experience?

Be prepared for each interview, I’ve told my son. Research the person and the company before you show up. Have some intelligent questions to ask. Know something about the business.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened an interview with this initial statement — “What questions do you have for me?” — and been greeted with a blank look and absolutely no response. None.

Sometimes, I’ve responded the same way — silence, just waiting to see what would happen — and the result has been more than a few five-minute interviews.

Don’t forget to ask about money, I’ve suggested to my son.

“Isn’t that kind of pushy?” he said.

“Don’t you want to know how much you might be paid?” I told him. “And don’t you want to make sure you don’t get excited about an opportunity you can’t afford to accept?”

“Yes, Dad,” he says, clearly indicating he’ll do no such thing.

And then there’s the most important element of a job interview, the one thing every potential employee needs to do, and yet most don’t: You have to ask for the job if you want it.

Employers want to hire people who are enthusiastic about working with them. It’s that plain and simple, or so I’ve told my son.

“Yes, Dad. I know all of this,” he told me while informing me he had just sewn up the internship he has been trying to line up.

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“I know. I know.”

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