10 Tips to Nail Your Big Kid Job Interview
I once heard that job interviews are like first dates: good impressions count, awkwardness can occur and outcomes are unpredictable. After recently going through a 2 ½ month long application and interview process for a full-time position, I’m here to attest to that statement and offer you some tips that I found to be helpful along the way.
Before The Interview:
1. Spend time on your resume/cover letter. This is quite possibly the most important step, because you aren’t guaranteed a face-to-face interview. You first have to stand out from the rest of the stack and really highlight who you are in a polished, professional manner. Sometimes starting a resume or cover letter from scratch can be daunting, but there are thousands of templates online that you can use as a starting point. Have at least two people proofread it for formatting/grammatical errors. Companies will be able to tell who paid attention to detail and who sent theirs in last minute.
2. Research the company. Know the position you’re applying for backwards and forwards. You don’t necessarily have to delve into the company’s financial statements dating back 25 years, but at least know the basics about their business; interviewers are bound to ask you a few of those questions just to see how interested and prepared you are.
3. Practice standard interview questions. That way, you have a go-to response in case you’re asked. You don’t want it to sound rehearsed necessarily, but simply be prepared so you aren’t bumbling around for a B.S. answer on the fly. These popular questions include weaknesses, strengths, how you overcame a challenging time in your life, an example of a time you creatively solved a problem, etc. Have a family member, friend or roommate help you with some role play mock interview situations. Practice makes perfect, right?
4. Dress to Impress. It doesn’t matter what the position is for but it’s always better to err on the side of too dressy rather than too casual. Look good = feel good!
5. Have your own questions prepared for your interviewers. Don’t be afraid to ask any question, even if it relates to compensation or benefits, because you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. It has to be a good fit for both parties involved. During my recent interview, they made it extremely clear that they wanted me to be comfortable to ask anything, especially with it being my first full-time position in order to make sure this was a place I really wanted to work.
6. POWER POSE, listen to your number 1 pump up song, quote your favorite idol… anything to help boost your confidence before walking into that room. Me personally? I power posed in the bathroom stall with my hands on my hips for five minutes beforehand feeling like a complete fool, but I did seem to stand a little taller afterwards.
During The Interview:
7. Have a water with you (cotton mouth is the worst), sit up straight, look attentive and maintain eye contact. Ya know, the basics of conversation.
After The Interview:
8. Send a thank you note or e-mail. I know this is interviewing 101, but it really does say something about your character if you make this small effort in thanking them for their time and the opportunity to meet with them. Try to add in a personal touch to each note if you had multiple interviewers.
9. Ask for feedback from your interviewers to help you find out what you can improve upon for your next one.
10. Have a plan B. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It’s not being pessimistic, just realistic. (I’m speaking from current experience here, people). Trust me, you don’t want to wait around thinking you will get hired and then find out you are up a creek with no back up job lined up.
Bonus Hint: If you haven’t already, start a running list of important things you accomplished, experienced and responsibilities you had in college, internships and work to be able to draw upon quickly for future reference.
Remember every interview is a learning experience, regardless of the outcome. It can be very awkward to try and “sell yourself” but just remember if it is truly a job worth having, the company will be trying to sell themselves just as much to get you on board. Happy interviewing everyone!