There are tons of articles in magazines and online giving sage advice to people about to go on a job interview. Most go into plenty of detail on the right way to answer questions about “your long-term vision” and “experiences which have shaped your professional outlook,” and discuss the right type of suit to wear to a big interview.
All of those suggestions aren’t going to be much help, though, if you’re hoping to land a job as a forklift operator or a custodian.
Here are our interview tips for blue-collar workers hoping to make a good impression – and more importantly, get hired.
No, you don’t need the $1,000 suit a would-be executive might wear to a job interview. You don’t even need a suit. But you’re still trying to make a good impression, so ditch the t-shirt and workboots. Before the meeting you should be sure to shower, clean your fingernails, and put on nice clothes that are clean and fit properly. If you own a tie, think about wearing it. You might not have to worry about whether your shirt’s tucked in or what’s on your feet once you start the job, but that’s then. This is now, and you’re trying to stand out from the others who are interviewing.
Be Ready To Talk About Yourself
White collar applicants might brag about advanced education or fancy awards when they are shooting for a big job, but the person interviewing you will be looking for plumbers or laborers, not candidates with master’s degrees. What he wants to know is whether you’re suited for the job you’re applying for, so be ready to impress him with your qualifications – and don’t sell yourself short.
Be ready to talk about your experience and skills, the training you’ve had, the type of work you’ve done, and how well you’ve done it. Also be ready to tell a few (true) stories to demonstrate the value you’d bring to an employer, such as projects that you completed ahead of time, commendations or bonuses you’ve received from supervisors, or times when you assumed a leadership role even though it wasn’t in your job description. If you’ve been “employee of the month” or have been promoted because of good performance, don’t be shy about saying it.
Be Ready For Anything
A common question in white collar interviews is “where do you see yourself in five years?” You probably won’t be asked that question – but you might be, so have an answer ready, even if it’s simply “still working here and doing a good job” or, as many employers would like to hear, “doing a good job for you and advancing in your company if an opportunity becomes available.”
It’s more likely you’ll be asked questions like if you work well under pressure, how you keep track of work you have to do, what you’ve learned from mistakes you’ve made on the job, what you do when you have disagreements with co-workers or supervisors, and how well you work with others. Come up with short and sincere answers, with examples, ahead of time – and you’ll come across as responsible, trustworthy and likeable.
There’s a very good chance you’ll also be asked why you’re looking for a new job. If you are leaving (or have left) your last position under less-than-perfect circumstances, put the best face possible on it and do not badmouth anyone. “Looking for a new challenge” is always a better answer than “my boss was a moron.”
Don’t Be Intimidated
When you’re seeking a blue-collar job and the person interviewing you is in management, there’s a natural tendency to defer to them. Don’t be aggressive, but don’t be shy, either. You’re there to make a good impression, and no one else is going to speak up for you. Be polite and respectful, but make your case firmly. After all, you’re the best man for the job, aren’t you?