Dos and Donts of Speed Networking

Hootsuite Media Inc. Speed Interviewing candidates at a CPABC Speed Interview Night

We asked employers from past speed interview events the following question. “If they could give any advice to the candidates before they walked into the interview room, what would it be?” Future speed interview goers, take heed, here are CPABC’s Do’s and Don’ts of speed interviewing.

Do: Research, research, and research some more. Employers appreciate candidates that take the time to research the company. If you are pursuing a specific type of work and you sit down for an interview with a company, make sure the company does that kind of work.
Don’t: In a similar vein, don’t ask the employer what the company does. Some people might think that question is a way of expressing interest, but from an employer’s perspective, it’s a clear indication that the job seeker hasn’t lifted a finger to do the minimum amount of research and is not genuinely interested in the company.

Do: Set realistic expectations. When it comes to salary and promotions, mature applicants should be prepared to work for promotions just like younger staff and not expect advancement based on age. Younger applicants should be prepared to get paid salaries that are commensurate with experience.
Don’t: If you can avoid it and unless you are asked, try not to discuss salary expectations and promotions at this first interview. Save it for the follow-up interview or a later stage in the hiring process.

Do: Just focus on getting to the next step. In this case it would be a second interview. Most employers are not likely going to be making hiring decisions immediately upon a speed interview meeting. They will most likely come up with a shortlist of candidates they would consider seeing for a second interview— aim to get on that list. Give them enough of yourself that will leave them wanting to know more.
Don’t: “Do not try to pressure me into hiring you,” said one employer. While you only have a few minutes to impress, being too aggressive can also be off-putting to the employer.

Do: Listen to the employer’s questions and answer succinctly. Be coherent with your answers.
Don’t: “I had a few candidates who gave, long elaborate answers but didn’t answer my question,”  said one employer. You may have practiced and rehearsed your answers to certain questions, which is awesome, just make sure your awesome answers are answering the employer’s questions.

Do: Talk about what you can do to help the company and demonstrate ideas you have thought of that could benefit the company.
Don’t: Don’t spend the short but valuable time you have with the employer asking about company perks and benefits. This tells the employer nothing in terms of what you can do for the company.

Do: Come prepared to answer the question “tell me a little bit about yourself.” Have a well-prepared “elevator pitch” about yourself that you can use whenever this question pops up.
Don’t: Don’t answer this question with “it’s on my résumé” or “what do you want to know?” This is your chance to present your personality in a way that your resumé can not.

Do: Maintain good posture.
Don’t:  Slump or slouch in the chair or lean your elbows on the table.  The employer is not only listening to what you are saying but also reading your body language.

Do: Give a firm hand shake and make eye contact.  Try to find out what the other person’s eye color is when first shaking their hands.
Don’t: Don’t look around the room while you are interviewing. It shows disrespect or can be interpreted as not being truthful.

And one final DoAs one employer put it, “Smile. I would just tell them to smile. A smile goes a long way.”