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Subtitle: Not everyone gets a trophy…you have to earn it.Convince employers you’re different than the rest of the candidates.
I feel like I’ve written about every aspect of the job hunt, from cover letters, resumes, follow-up calls, to networking. Now it’s time to discuss the MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE JOB HUNT: INTERVIEWING.
Why did I just yell at you with all those capital letters?
Because I need your absolute attention here. If you get the interview, you better be prepared for the best performance of your life. While interviewers expect you to be yourself above all else, it’s still a performance whether you like it or not. Except on this stage there are no encores for a mediocre performance.
What sets you apart from everyone else?
Many believe “being yourself” means wearing what you’d put on day-to-day (wrong), talking in your conversational lingo with all its slang (really wrong), and acting as though you’re hangin’ out with friends (super wrong). It’s time to step up your game and not only dress to impress but prove you’re the one for the job with the first handshake.
What does it take to get the job (really)
- Dress according to the culture of the company: Seems like a no a no-brainer, but most people get this wrong. Understand what to wear for a HVAC vs. Business Office Administration interview.
- Do Your Homework: Find out as much as you can about the company and the people who run it. Make a cheat sheet of important or interesting points: past press releases, new hire announcements, notable events they’ve hosted, nonprofits they support, etc. Your knowledge demonstrates a desire to work for this company, not just a company.
- Rehearse Your Responses (But Don’t Make Them Sound Rehearsed): You never know what the interviewer will ask you, so be prepared for questions that are a little out of left field or even totally unrelated to the job, such as “What is your philosophy of life?” or “How do you handle stress?” Practice your responses based on a few bullet points, so your words sound clear and concise but not programmed. Remember to take thoughtful pauses to allow your interviewer to digest and respond to your thoughts.
- Make Strategic Small Talk: This is often at the beginning of the interview, and believe it or not, the hiring manager is determining of your “fit” even during what appears to be just casual chit-chat. Take note of the room…pictures, trophies, and small desk items say a lot about someone. If you see a photo of his kiddo playing baseball and you happened spend a few years of your life in center field, talk of your own days gone by. Be careful of TMI; once you share your experience allow him to lead the rest of this conversation.
- Interview Your Interviewer: No matter how badly you may think you want the job, or how amazing the position sounds on paper, keep in mind that the interview process is a time for both company and candidate to feel the other out and see if it is a good fit. When you ask questions (about expectations, job mobility, and job environment, etc.) it shows that you value yourself and your time, and that you’re looking for a mutually beneficial partnership.
- Be Friendly and Confident: Employers want to hire people who can positively influence others, who are confident in their skills and abilities, and who are just generally pleasant to be around. Ease any anxiety by reminding yourself that your interviewers are most likely as positive and hopeful about finding a new member of their team as you are about landing the perfect job.
Act like you’re on a first date when interviewing. Yes, be yourself, but the BEST version of yourself. Potential employers and dates don’t want to hear about how you messed up your last job/relationship. Whether you like it or not, you’re now a salesperson. Fortunately, you know everything there is to know about the product. Now…who’s gonna buy it?