Over the last few months Dean and I have been actively job hunting. I forgot how painful this process is! I feel like I have a hundred different resumes for various jobs and then I have even more cover letters. My computer is overly packed out with personal information, but of course these are just the beginning. You still have to fill out the individual job applications, maybe go through a background check and then you’re waiting for a call or email to show up. And then after days/weeks/months, you’re lucky to get a few interviews. This job hunt thing is no joke! So when I get a call requesting an interview, you better bet that I’m going to do everything I can to put my best foot forward.
Now I don’t want to brag, but I think I’m a pretty good interviewer. I’ve been lucky enough to be on the other side of the interview process for my last few jobs and I think I’m the kind of person I would call back for a second meeting. The key is to be just the right amount of both confident and nervous, which sounds weird, but it’s totally true. You want to show confidence because you’ve totally got this! You’re amazing, well dressed, and perfectly qualified. However, you also have to be humble and realize that a lot of other great, well dressed, qualified individuals probably applied, too. It’s good to be a little nervous- you’re feeling this way because you actually care about this job! And that’s important to convey.
So, as a person who’s been on both sides of this interview process one too many times, I’ve put together two posts to help you prepare for your next interview. First up, let’s talk about how to mentally prepare.
- DO RESEARCH – Find out everything you can about the company. Look into the company’s mission, vision and values. Stalk out your potential interviewer on LinkedIn. Reread the job listing and then reread it again. Know how you fit this listing. Why is this job perfect for you? Be prepared to let others know why this job is a good fit. Be prepared to let others know what you are hoping to get from this job. You want to be qualified, but ideally this job is a little bump up from your last job. Be aware and be real about the fact that you’re going to have a lot to learn. I always like to tell my interviewer both what I hope to bring to the job and what I hope to take away from the job. Why is hiring you a mutually beneficial decision for both you and your potential company?
- EXPLORE COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS– We all know that some questions are inevitable- in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever completed an interview that didn’t involve the following 5 questions:
- Tell me about yourself
- Why are you interested in this job?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Where do you hope to be in five years?
I know I can’t be the only person who has had to answer these 5 questions time and time again. So accept your fate and go over potential answers. Practice your answers. Know your answers. Feel good about your answers! Let’s be honest, sometimes you’re not going to know an answer, and that’s okay too. We’re all human! They key is to be honest and to be positive. It’s okay to say that you’ve never worked with a specific system before because you’re willing to learn it. It’s okay that you’ve never worked in this particular division, because here are some transferable skills you think will allow you to be successful through this transition. Make sure you always follow up any weakness with what steps you are taking to better yourself. Nobody is perfect!
Don’t forget to also check out resources for your particular industry. Different career paths will involve different interviews. Maybe you’ll have to take a technical exam or a psych test. Interview questions for a teacher or a counselor are going to look very different than that of a web developer or a high profile business manager. Know your industry and know your jargon. If they’re going to ask about how you increased sales then I’d hope you have some information about your sales numbers from your previous job. If necessary, pull the correct files, build the correct portfolio, or practice a star presentation.
- PREPARE QUESTIONS– Without fail your interviewer is going to ask you if you have any questions. Your answer should always be yes because you have come to this interview prepared! Assuming this is your first interview, it’s typically not proper to talk about anything too sensitive just yet. Unless your interviewer has already brought up information about a potential salary/benefits/401K/etc., we’re just going to leave these questions aside for later. This is your time to find out about your potential job and coworkers. You want to find out if this job is something you would like to have and if this team is one you’d like to be on. Take advantage and ask the right questions. Here are some of my favorite go-to’s:
- What is the dynamic of your office like?
- What would my average day look like?
- What skills would your ideal candidate possess?
- What is your favorite part of working for this company?
- Do you have any questions/concerns/reservations for me in this position?
Have your questions ready and waiting in your nice portfolio so that you don’t feel rushed or put on the spot at the end of the interview.
This is definitely the longest post I’ve written in a long time. Good thing I split it into two parts! Next up? What to wear and what to bring with you to your interview!