By Jack Kelly
Forbes, July 2, 2018 —
I usually try to infuse my career articles with a healthy dose of motivation and inspiration, while offering a unique, insightful glimpse into the secrets of successfully navigating the treacherous interview process. Sometimes, however, my advice is plainly simple, since I’m able to highlight some tricks-of-the-trade that I have learned along the way in my 20-plus years of recruiting. This is one of those articles, but don’t worry; I’ll offer some good humor and entertainment along with some common sense interviewing advice.
While hiring significantly slows down in the summer, it doesn’t mean that you should take a vacation from your job search. The average person puts aside their pursuit of a new job in the summertime because they would rather focus on frivolous things like family vacations. Your competitors are miserably trudging along in the sweltering Orlando, FL summer heat with thousands of screaming, crying kids (and adults), enduring two-hour waits for the “It’s a Small World” ride and lining up for an entire afternoon to get a cold beverage. Meanwhile, if you are interviewing, you will have considerably less competition. So, even if you aren’t that qualified, you will look like a rockstar since there will be few other intrepid souls competing against you in the interview process.
If you are interviewing—especially in oppressively hot and humid places where the heat spikes up to over 90 degrees (and even higher) when you factor getting in a crowded Manhattan subway, you have to have a plan to cope.
Don’t worry; we are here to help with these top tips to help you remain cool for your interview.
Try to schedule interviews in the early hours of the day before things get really hot or toward 4 p.m. or so, when the heat subsides a little.
Make sure to wear clothes that won’t wrinkle and make you look sloppy and unkempt. For example, for guys, don’t wear the thick, blue wool suits that will leave you sweating profusely and walking into the interview looking like a rumpled mess.
I know you need to cool down after taking a hot, cross-town train, but please don’t walk into the interview loudly slurping your Starbucks Mocha Cookie Crumble Caramel Frappuccino Latte.
You probably arrived feeling a little cranky from the heat; don’t compound this faux pas by plopping your purse, briefcase, knapsack, gym bag and/or phone on the interview table and then proceed to gulp down your cold beverage while the interviewer is talking.
Setting up Friday afternoon interviews is a rookie mistake. In most industries, senior management is savvy enough to turn weekends into three-day mini-vacations. While the human resources professional or the manager’s assistant will naively set up the interview, the manager will almost always come up with some rare unheard of sickness that will render them unable to be in the office Friday. The interview will then have to be set for another time.
Places like New York City are brutal to navigate in late July and August. Nothing ever seems to run right. It’s like the trains throw hissy fits and purposely won’t work in the heat. Therefore, leave plenty of extra time to arrive early.
The odds are high that you will arrive to the interview a hot, soaking-wet mess. It is imperative that before letting the receptionist announce that you have arrived for the interview, politely ask them if you could use the restroom facilities. Take this opportunity to freshen up. Check the mirror to assess and fix any wear-and-tear that happened during commute over to the interview.
Have a summer-gear kit with you, in which you should have an extra clean and dry shirt with you as a backup (just in case of weather-related damage), comb to brush your frizzled hair, makeup to reapply after it melted in the heat, breath mints and an energy bar or fruit to replenish your electrolytes.
If the cab or Uber is not air conditioned, get out of it right away.
While it is tempting to dress in extreme summer casual, remember it is still an interview and dress accordingly; no flip flops, daisy dukes, cut-off denim shorts, sandals or shirts unbuttoned to your navel; you get the picture.
Try to avoid the train at all costs. The train is dirty, hot and crowded. You will arrive sweaty, rumpled, cranky and disgruntled, which is not the best way to make a first impression. No interviewer wants to shake your sweaty, clammy hand and watch your perspiration drip unto their desk.
Be prepared for a slowdown in communication and momentum. Since this is the prime vacation time, your recruiter will be out of the office and when she/he returns, the hiring manager will be on a beach somewhere. Then, when they return the human person managing the process sent an email stating that they’ll be out for two weeks. This trend of “missing persons” will extend to September. Also, the conventional mindset is that hiring takes a backseat to everything. There is a groupthink mindset of coasting through the summer without caring too much about hiring people. It’s too much extra work and we will worry about it in September when we become serious again. It’s like when you were young and in school; you want to enjoy the brief couple of months and then you revert to the back-to-school mentality again in September.
On the positive side, smart, experienced hiring managers recognize that if they don’t interview and hire now, they are to expect a late September, October or even November start date for the prospective applicant—factoring in a three-to-eight week interview process, plus the applicant giving two weeks’ notice to their firm. With this in mind, savvy hiring managers will be motivated to move quickly. So, if you are interviewing now and can brave the heat, your chances of success are much greater than if you were to wait for everyone to come back from vacation and rush into the job market to compete against you.