So far, we’ve discussed the importance of keeping a schedule when you’re job searching and investigating company cultures. Now that your resume is flawless and you are likely going to be interviewed for your dream job, we should move on to the interviews.
Interviewers will not only be assessing your ability to do the job, but also how you will fit in with the company, culture, and team. Make sure you bring your A-game and read on for things to avoid during your interview.
written by: Becca Mcknight, PRomega
Don’t Come Unprepared
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so prepare yourself to ensure you will make a good one! I’m most impressed with candidates who have obviously researched the company and the people they will be meeting (Google or look up your interviewers on LinkedIn to familiarize yourself with their work). I’m also impressed when candidates have prepared good, thoughtful questions and have thought about how they can make an impact on the company.
In the interview, you will be asked questions that help interviewers understand how you would react in situations you may encounter. Before your interview, think about a few projects you are proud of or situations you handled well and jot them down. When you get a question that starts with “tell me about a time when” or “what would you do if”, you can give real-life examples without breaking a sweat.
Write notes for yourself. Hopefully you will not have to look at them much, but if you need to refer to them, no problem. Include anything you learned about your interviewers, projects and situations you handled well that you can use in your answers, questions you have for the interviewers, and anything else you want to be sure you tell the interviewers (like the experience you got last week that’s related to the job but not on your resume).
Show up to the interview armed with several copies of your resume, your notes, a copy of the job description, detailed directions and any other paperwork the employer asks you to bring. Bring blank paper and a pen so you can take notes as well. Make sure all of this paperwork is neat (not crumpled in your pocket, for example) and nicely organized.
Tell Your Story
Before reciting a canned answer to the question “How would you describe your leadership style?” or “What is your greatest strength?”, take a step back and come up with a story to explain your answer. You’ll come across as more charming, a great communicator and the interviewer will get a chance to know you better.
In general, the goals of an interview are to get to know candidates, determine their skills, figure out if they are a culture fit and assess the benefit they can provide to an organization. Answering questions in the form of a story will help your interviewer get to know you and will allow them to walk out of the interview having a good sense of who you are. It will also give them concrete examples of how you work, solve problems, interact with others, etc. Thorough, interesting answers will engage your interviewers and set you apart from the crowd.
Here’s a concrete example of what I’m talking about.
Question: Are you more of a leader or a follower?
Typical answer: I’m definitely more of a leader. I like to lead projects and aspire to be in management in the next few years.
Excellent answer: I’m more of a leader. Recently I got asked to join a team to work on wellness initiatives. Everyone was very busy so I stepped up and started organizing meetings for the team to get together. I made sure the meetings were very productive by providing short pre-reads, agendas and then following up with decisions and action-items after the meeting. I sent out reminders to group members to make sure everyone was working on their piece of the project and in a few cases I was able to help team members with problems they were having. I kept the group organized with a shared Excel document outlining our goals, progress and deadlines and I created a SharePoint site for our shared documents. I thought the wellness initiatives were really exciting so I was happy to lead and I think the group was relieved that I was there to keep things moving.
Don’t Be Late
Arriving late to an interview is the best way to convince your interviewers you are unreliable. Make sure you look up the location of the interview and know which building you will be going to. If the company you are interviewing with is local, I recommend doing a “dry run” and driving to the interview a day or two early, especially if you are like me and get lost constantly. Don’t go in, just make sure you know how to get there and how long it will take. On the day of the interview, allow yourself plenty of time to get to the interview location; if you end up arriving too early, you can review your notes, the job description and your resume before going in.
For a phone interview, make sure you are sitting by your phone at the scheduled time. If you don’t pick up when a recruiter calls, your resume may automatically move to the “no” pile.
Don’t Be Unprofessional
Act respectfully and professionally throughout the entire process whether you are speaking with the receptionist or the hiring manager and thank everyone for their time. Dress up for your interview and make sure you look put together. For most companies, men should wear a suit and tie and women should wear a business suit. Iron your outfit and shine your shoes. Women- don’t wear anything that could be considered provocative (no cleavage, short skirts, or 5 inch heels). Don’t get me wrong- the interview process isn’t a fashion show and doesn’t require a shopping spree- but you don’t want a wrinkled shirt to leave a lasting negative impression with the manager. Plus, at least for me, the better I look, the more confident I feel.
Don’t Fail to Engage with the Interviewers
The people you are meeting with will have to spend 40 hours a week with you- they are looking for someone they can get along with. Be professional, but also be yourself. Smile, make eye contact, and have fun with the interviewers. Because you have googled your interviewers and know about their work, you can ask questions and let them talk about themselves (most people love talking about themselves). The interview should be a conversation, not just you talking.
Pay attention to your body language as well. Sit up straight and comfortably in the chair and don’t cross your arms or fidget. Shake the hands of the people you meet with a firm handshake.
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of a Phone Interview
This seems like a no-brainer but it happens constantly. Find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted or distracted. If you will be talking on a cell phone, make sure you have good reception in the place you choose. Treat a phone interview just like an in person interview; prepare, be engaged, smile (I know it feels weird smiling to the phone but it does change the quality of your voice), and treat the interviewer’s time with respect.
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