The actual interview is an area where candidates probably do not place enough attention on when seeking a skilled trade position. So much emphasis is placed on the resume and outlining your experience and certifications in this document, that sometimes job seekers think that the position will be obtained once this is reviewed. The reality is usually quite different and the interview is a critical piece of the process. Even in this time of low unemployment and a general shortage of skilled trade people, Hiring Managers still want to make sure they are selecting the right person.
So whether you are seeking a skilled trade position for the first time or experienced in this type of work, there are some areas to review prior to your interview. The list below outlines some key items to consider when you are preparing for your appointment.
• Timeliness – Being on time and ready is a valued trade anywhere, but it is especially important in the skilled trades. In this area, a crew may be left waiting, a client appointment missed, or a machine left sitting idle if you are not on-time and ready to work. So, it is critical that you arrive 10-15 minutes early and in a position to immediately start the interview, if necessary. Prepare ahead of time by knowing exactly where you are going and how much time it will take to get these, and then leave home earlier to account for any traffic.
• Clothes – It is not a surprise that this can be one of the toughest decisions that a candidate must make when preparing for the skilled trade interview. Impressions (especially first ones) do matter, and your attire can help shape that opinion. Given that you most likely will work in very casual clothes, it is widely accepted that you will not need to wear business attire such as a suit. This will certainly be a relief for those with a more limited wardrobe in the dress clothes area. It is a given, however, that you will be wearing clean and non-wrinkled clothes, unless you have covered (ahead of time) with the Hiring Manager that you are coming straight from work with no stops in between to tidy up. Since you want to project the dual image of someone who is professionally mature as well as someone who will get his/her hands dirty, I suggest more of a business casual approach. I recommend a nice polo shirt with a pair of khaki-like pants if you are a male, and similarly a nice blouse and pants for a female. Please make sure your footwear is appropriate for a shop floor (such as closed toe) so you will be ready for a tour, if offered.
• Hygiene – Similar to the notes above associated with clothing, it is expected that you will attend the skilled trade interview freshly groomed. This does not mean a clean shave and a closely cropped haircut, but it does mean that your are expected to be showered with your hair dry, etc. If this is not going to be possible because you are coming straight from work, please let your Hiring Manager know ahead of time so that he/she will be aware.
• Documentation – If you are interviewing for a skilled trade that requires certification or a license, consider bringing this with you even if you are not asked to do so. You can work this into the conversation to show that you are certified to work immediately. If you are asked, you can display how prepared you are by quickly pulling the document out for display. You should also bring a copy of your resume in case the Hiring Manager does not have one readily available to reference during the interview.
• Sell Yourself – My experience has shown that many people in the skilled trades are either reluctant to “brag” or mistakenly feel that they do not have anything to “brag” about. The skilled trades are like any position, and there are areas such as productivity or attendance awards, committee membership (such as Safety or Quality), and skills learned that easily lend itself to selling your candidacy. Be able to speak to how easily you pick up and can use new equipment or technology. Don’t forget, you want to convince the Hiring Manager to hire you rather than the other person…give them a reason to do that.
• Answer the Key Questions – You know what you might be asked about during the interview. This might be a gap in employment or why you want to leave your current position. Whatever the potential concern, be prepared with a solid and confident answer to put any concerns the Hiring Manager may have to rest. Just obtaining the interview is not enough, it is critical that you are able to communicate to the Hiring Manager that you should be hired for the position. The Hiring Manager is expecting to see someone who is professionally mature, confident, reliable, and ready to work. You can easily display those traits by implementing some of the items noted above.
As always, best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
WNY Human Resources Professional
Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: