Job-seeking advice: Every conversation a potential job interview

By JEFF BISHOP If you're on the job hunt, consider every conversation with a non-immediate family member a potential job interview. That's the advice Katherine Meadows, services specialist at the Newnan Career Center, Georgia Department of Labor, gave to the approximately 35 job seekers who attended Thursday afternoon's "Effective Interview Skills" lecture at the A. Mitchell Powell Jr. Library on Newnan's Hospital Road.
"Even going to the store to get some milk -- that might be an interview," said Meadows. You never know whom you might run into, so it's important to make a good impression at all times, she said. In today's workplace, the costs of hiring the wrong person can be tremendous, she said, so employers are very cautious about who they choose to hire. "The cost of hiring the wrong individual is way, way up there," Meadows said. Appearance is everything, she said. But she explained that "appearance" includes a number of elements: attitude, physical appearance, professional appearance, communication, and timeliness. "These are some of the things that let people know if you're dependable or not," she said. It's key to keep a positive attitude at all time, in spite of the difficulties faced in today's job market, Meadows said. "If that means you need to take some time out to play frisbee with your dog, then do that," she said. "If you need to check a book on tape out of the library, then do that. But whatever you do, keep yourself full of positive info. Don't turn on the news, since so much of it seems to be so negative right now." As far as physical appearance goes, "upgrade something about yourself," said Meadows. That may mean just going to the barber for a trim, she said. "But even something as small as that can give you more confidence about yourself. You will walk differently." It's important that people perceive you as ready to take on a challenge, she said. When you're going in for a job interview, don't overdo it on the perfume and colognes. Loud colors and lots of jewelry are also big no-nos. "If I walked in here to give this presentation wearing a turquoise bathrobe with big pockets, you probably wouldn't hear a thing I said," said Meadows. "You'd be too distracted by what I chose to wear, and anything of value that I might have to share with you would be lost." It's important to let an employer know that you mean to get down to business, she said. "It's 'just the facts,' like 'Dragnet,'" she said. Of course it's also important to remember to maintain eye contact, give a firm handshake, refrain from fidgeting, and don't slouch. Tone of voice and speaking style are equally important, she said. "They say now that there are five different registers we use when we speak," said Meadows. Don't make the mistake of speaking in the informal register when a professional register would be more appropriate, she said. "Stay focused on what you're there to do," she said. "Again, if you're speaking to someone who is not in your immediate family, that's an interview," she said. "How you choose to communicate is extremely important. If you e-mail someone, don't use all caps. They're going to think you're yelling. "Be positive and open ... give someone a holistic view of you."

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