I love working with people and having social jobs. I thrive in it. However, interviews make my insides turn inside out to the point of being completely exhausted once the interview is over. How does one love working with people yet completely struggle with interviews? Although I interview people in my current job and enjoy doing it, I hate when I’m the one being interviewed and the spotlight is on me. I understand that I’m always being evaluated on my performance at any current job but during that time I’m focused on meeting the needs of the others rather than myself, and that’s why I struggle in interviews. Fortunaely, each interview is a practice round and there is always something to learn whether or not you got the offer. So take a deep breath and don’t forget these little things for a successful interview:
1. “Why are you the best candide for this position?”
Aka, “What makes you better than everyone else?” If you can’t answer this question, then you won’t be able to stand out very well. Personally, I hate this question. I struggle with it. Perhaps it’s insecurity, but I immediately want to compare myself to the other interviewers; however it’s rare to know who the other interviewers are. But not knowing anything about the other interviewers is also a bonus because to answer this question you need to understand who you are completely. You need to understand your accomplishments, skills, and abilities. In other words, you need to know who is your best self. A good way to look at this question from a different perspective is to ask yourself, “What makes me unique from the eveyone else in this world?” What makes you, you? And once you answer that question, don’t forget to include how and why your answer fits into the job position you are applying for.
2. Confidence is literally the key.
I once made the mistake of mentioning that I wanted to find out if the industry I was applying for was right for my when I was making a career change. I quickly realized that was not the smartest thing to say. It made me sound unsure or flakey. Visualize yourself working in that industry before the interview and be sure to tell your interviewer that know for sure that you want to dive into their industry and explain why. Telling the interviewer that you are unsure and “testing it out” is a red flag to employers. They want to hire people who they know will stay for the long run. So be confident when explaining why you want to dive into that new industry or position.
3. Anything can happen in an interview, so be prepared.
Once I completed an interview only to unexpectedly be introduced to someone higher up. I was being interviewed all over again. I left feeling like a failure because I did not prepare for multiple interviews. All of the questions I originally wanted to ask had already been asked. I was stuck between asking the same questions I asked with the first interviewer and feeling unoriginal or asking nothing at all. By the end of the interview, I came up with only one new question. Lesson learned: come to each interview as if you were at the final interview with potential to get the job offer that day. I came to my interview with my research and questions that only affected the person and department I knew I was interviewing with. Instead, I should have came to the interview with the research and questions for the company entirely, including questions for those higher up the chain. The day after that embarrassing interview, I researched a little bit more and gathered more questions. When I wrote my thank-you letter, email, or call, I included my new questions and insights while reiterating my interest in the company.
4. Look foward to the next steps.
This may be obvious, but sometimes I forget this step when I am super nervous. Before leaving an interview, ask the interviewer what the next steps are without asking if you got the job. I once realized as I was walking out that I forgot to ask this important question. As much as I wanted to turn around and find the interveiwer again to ask, I felt like it would look unprofessional. If you find yourself making this mistake, ask about the next steps in your thank-you letter, email, or phone call.
5. Everybody loves to hear their name.
I’ll be honest, I’m bad at remembering names. I focus more on how the person is feeling and their needs more than taking a mental note about their name. It’s something I understand I need to work on if I want to excel in anything – with customers, guests, networking, etc. A name gives a person an identity. Hearing their makes people feel humanized. If you find yourself forgetting the interviewer’s name when you are following up, make Google your best friend try looking up your interviewer either through LinkedIn or the company website. I’ve even gone so far to use facebook to find my interviewer’s name. The more you know about your interviewer, the easier it is to look them up. It’s bonus points if you score their business card during the interview.
6. Your current job is important too, even if it’s less relevant to the position you are applying for.
Hiring managers wants to know what skills you are currently developing. I went from customer service to a human resources only to realize I wanted to be back in sales. When I interviewed for a customer service position, I talked a lot about my old job in customer service and rarely talked about my current job in human resources. It wasn’t until the hiring manager said, “You’ve told me a lot about this position, but you have yet to tell me about what you are doing now,” that I realized that I made the mistake. Even if your old job is a better fit for the position you are interviewing for, don’t neglect your current position. Talk about how your skills from your older posistion allowed you to succeed in your current position, and how your skills from both positions have grown together to fit into the current position you are interviewing for. Hiring managers want to see growth.
In the end, take each interview as a learning opportunity and don’t take rejection personally. Afterall, it’s the hiring manager who know their team best.
Thoughts?? Tips?? Any advice, tips, and tricks is always helpful.