Put Your Best Foot Forward… Please

by Rich DeMatteo on May 3, 2012 · 6 comments

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Jessica Lee is director of digital talent strategy at Marriott International where she leads their talent related digital and social media efforts… which means she blogs, tweets and plays on Facebook all day. Kind of. In what she’ll quickly tell you is her dream job, she’s working to differentiate and position Marriott to most effectively optimize innovative technologies to address the brand’s business needs in the talent space. Pretty cool what they’ve done already… and she’ll work to take it even further to the next level. Don’t be fooled by that fancy pants digital stuff though, she’s still an everyday HR gal in the trenches at the core. SPHR certified, a decade or so into trench HR life… she’s interviewed tens of thousands of job seekers over the years.

During the course of my time in HR, I have had the opportunity to interview tens of thousands of people. Actually – if I stop to do some casual math… it’s more like 90,000 people. Crazy, right? And it might be more. I’ve interviewed people for everything from internships to executive level roles. Then you add in all the informational meetings, conversations at job fairs and the inevitable oh-you’re-a-recruiter-can-you-talk-to-my-son chats I’ve had at picnics, BBQ’s, birthday parties, you name it. I’ve shaken many, many hands and looked at many, many more resumes.

So you’d think that nothing would faze me given all those interviews… but believe me – I’m always, ALWAYS surprised when people are ill-prepared for interviews. And it happens more frequently than you might believe. Let me tell you:

  • No questions at all? I typically allot 10 to 15 minutes at the tail end of an interview just for you to ask me anything and everything. It’s important for me to leave you time to interview me. I also want to get a feel for your curiosity and thoughtfulness though. When you have no questions, it makes me wonder… did you do homework about the role or our company? Will you be able to ask questions and actively learn on the job? Always – always – have questions.
  • Is this just a job to you? I’ve gotta confess… I already drink the Marriott Kool-Aid. And with past positions, it’s always been important for me to find a culture that I will love. I want that out of future colleagues too. So when a candidate can’t articulate why they want the position we’re specifically discussing or how it might fit into their long term goals… it raises a red flag for me. You want a job, we know that – but why this specific position? And why our company?
  • Is that how you’ll present yourself to… guests? Beyond those interview faux pas – there still, STILL (!) is the all too common problem of candidates showing up to interviews projecting an image that isn’t helping their candidacy. At all. Skirts that are too short. T-shirts. Way too casual attire… including sneakers. Sneakers! Really. It’s not just what you say… but it’s your entire presentation that matters.

Everything counts in an interview. Everything. It’s not only the words that come out of your mouth – it’s your body language. Your appearance. It’s all a part of the packaging of… you. And what you uniquely offer to me. The words that come out of your mouth and your answers should really do all the talking for you in an interview – but sometimes, poor packaging will cause an interviewer to get distracted or wonder about your professional judgment so just don’t let that happen to you. Make sure the packaging says – I’m professional, I’m put-together, I’m reliable, I’m going to represent your brand, your company, your team really well if you hire me. And then let the words that come out of your mouth really nail those messages.

So put your best foot – and let us help you do that. Hop over to our Facebook page for jobs and careers at Marriott to learn how we’re literally helping job seekers to put their best foot forward. (Hint, hint… Zappos.com is part of the equation. Really!)

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Desiree Porcaro
Desiree Porcaro

I completely agree with this post. It is so important to project an intelligent, put-together image of yourself in an interview. You want to walk away knowing that you left an impression. If you do a good job in the interview, it sets a standard for you in the actual job, and standards can be a good thing. Go in with confidence, and you’ll always end up getting more out of it.

Steve Levy
Steve Levy

Your "No questions at all?" paragraph put me in thinking mode...EVERY person I've EVER hired had one thing in common - they were all great conversationalists. Even the software developers ;) Confidence was the key; if you aren't confident in yourself, you won't be able to engage me. And this extends to all our communications - from the first touch point to each subsequent one. Getting a new job is a marathon and there are lots of places to trip up in 26 miles, 365 yards.