In the Dec. 10, 2012 edition of The NEWS, editor-in-chief Kyle Gargaro penned an editorial — “Is There an eHarmony for Hiring?” — where he offered up hiring tips he learned while interviewing candidates for two open positions here at The NEWS. “Let’s just say I have a new respect for all the HVAC contractors out there who continually need to fish in a rather shallow labor pool,” he wrote.

Well, Kyle, I can say that, as one of the two editors you hired after writing your editorial, I didn’t exactly enjoy the process, either! But, all ribbing aside, there are definitely some key things job candidates can do to “ace” that important interview.

1. Look Good on Paper and Online — “I naturally want to see a résumé,” said Arthur Pickett of Royal Air Systems. Your résumé is you in a nutshell — your professional and educational accomplishments, your skills, your goals — and it’s important that it grabs your interviewer’s attention. So, if you didn’t submit a résumé with your application, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring one to your interview, even if you aren’t specifically asked to do so. But that’s not all.

“Make sure your online profile matches your offline résumé,” said Sara Anastasia, sales executive for BCA Technologies. “The first thing we do as employers is check the person’s profile online. It’s almost like we check out their ‘reviews’ first before interviewing them.”

Also, don’t be afraid to reach out for help when perfecting your résumé. A friend of mine, who handles hiring for an accounting firm, helped me with mine, and there are also numerous résumé-building resources that can be found online with a simple search.

2. Dress Appropriately — Dressing in clean, professional attire can help make a strong, positive first impression on your interviewer, just as wearing jeans and a wrinkled shirt can help make sure you aren’t asked back.

“I look for any exposed tattoos,” Pickett said, adding that he sometimes goes so far as to walk candidates out to their cars so he can see inside their vehicles. “If the car is a mess, the truck you put him in will be, too,” he said. (A brilliantly logical observation, in my opinion.)

It’s also not a bad idea to spend some time on your physical appearance, including running a comb through your hair and maybe even shaving off that five o’clock shadow.

3. Loosen Up — “A person who is relaxed and at ease during the interview is normally one who doesn’t buckle under pressure, and let’s face it — our techs and installers are under the pressures of diagnosing the problem correctly and completing the work in a timely manner most of the time,” said Ann Kahn of Kahn Mechanical.

Of course, getting too comfortable may not be a good idea (you still want to remain professional and respectful), but letting your interviewer know you have a personality, especially if you’re going to be interacting with customers on a regular basis, is a good idea.

4. Smile and Make Eye Contact — “When I’m talking to them, they must give me eye contact,” Pickett said. Doing so displays confidence and lets your interviewer know you’re engaged in the conversation.

“I look for facial expressions and body language; they tell a lot about the personality behind the face,” Kahn added. “A person who doesn’t smile absolutely puts me off.”

So, show off those pearly whites, look your interviewer in the eye, and let your personality shine through.

5. Be Honest. The point of the interview is to see if you are the best person for the job — not to try to get the job by saying what you think your interviewer wants to hear (they can usually see through that, in my experience). Lying or even embellishing something on your résumé can cost you the job and potentially damage your reputation. Plus, it’s just wrong. Instead, try playing up your strengths and your willingness to learn.

“I’m not afraid to learn new things, ask for help, and take constructive criticism,” all of which I’ve done these first few weeks — trust me!

I’m thrilled to be the new legislation editor here at The NEWS, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know my coworkers and industry contacts. And for those who are looking to advance in the industry, or perhaps just trying to land that very first HVAC job, I hope these tips will help you ace your interview. Good luck!

Publication date: 2/11/2013