How To Slay Your Next Interview
Are you ready to land your dream job? Good – because I am here to help you.
I like to think that over the years I have developed a solid understanding of the interview process. Not because I am perfectionist, but because I have received some really great advice in my career and have landed several jobs with big companies (For example: Willis of New York and Bebe)
Okay, so are you ready?
Here are my top tips to help you slay that next interview:
- Be Kind to the Receptionist: First impressions are everything and who is the first person you usually meet at a company? The receptionist. I make it a rule of thumb that no matter who I am introduced to, I treat them like they are the CEO aka with respect and courtesy.
- Research: Before I do anything, I research the company initially and then again – more thoroughly – after I submit my resume. You want to work for a company you like at least a little bit right? Plus, researching a company’s background and current events will only help you answer those tough interview questions. It shows that you weren’t just mindlessly applying to a million jobs since you know facts like when the company was founded, who the CEO is, etc. Also, using websites like Glassdoor can be helpful. You can see company reviews, salaries for certain roles, and some even interview processes/questions that were asked.
- Social Media + LinkedIn: Keep it classy and clean it up. If you are on social media posting about controversial topics, companies may not want to take a risk hiring you (especially if they are more reserved). During your interview process I recommend limiting anything outrageous and making sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date (just in case they check).
- Resumes + Cover Letters: Yes – I cannot stress enough how important a neat, spell-checked and grammar-checked resume is. Since I have experience with the hiring process, I cannot tell you how quickly a resume with spelling errors and poor spacing will be discarded. A good resume will have a clear objective, no slang or conversational talk, and be a single page long. It should also have skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for. For example if I am applying to a post-grad admin position, I am going to list any office work/skills towards the top (but still in date order) and I’m going to remove my job from high school at the local theme park. Now onto cover letters, make them custom for every single job you apply to. Start out with who you are and note the position you are interested in. In the body of the letter, talk about your professional and personal experience and how it relates to the position at hand. End your letter with why you would be a good fit for company xyz. Oh, and ALWAYS bring 2-3 printed copies of your resume and cover letter with you to a interview, you never know how many people you will be meeting with. Last, when applying, go through the company’s actual website. A good friend and top recruiter for JetBlue, Nancy Kumar, suggests this tip: “Applying directly through the company website is best.” Applying through sites like LinkedIn which claim to “speed up the process” actually don’t.
- Don’t be too early, on time or late: If you are going to an office building, don’t show up 30 minutes early. If you show up early, sit in your car or wait outside the building and practice your elevator pitch. Don’t show up on time or late, it doesn’t put your best foot forward and they may feel you aren’t taking the interview seriously. I recommend showing up 10-15 minutes early. 15 minutes gives you time to greet the receptionist, use the restroom (if needed or to freshen up) and sit and relax.
- Dress Appropriately: You wouldn’t dress in a suit for a construction job right? So don’t show up in an outfit that doesn’t fit the role. If you are in doubt or uncertain, dressing up is always better than dressing down. If you are going to any office or corporate interviews, business attire is always more appropriate.
- Make Eye Contact, Have Confidence and Good Posture: Would you want to hire someone who is slouched over and uncertain about themselves? If you are doubting your abilities why shouldn’t they doubt them too? When making eye contact, don’t stare at your interviewer but make sure you look up and actually talk to them. It shows that you are confident with your skill-set for the role.
- Remember One Good Example or Story: Almost every interviewer has asked me about “one good thing I have done for my current company”. So I recommend always having a good, positive story handy about how you helped improved the company. For example, when I worked at Willis, I completely reorganized their filing system to make it more efficient and I did it in a timely manner. They still use the system today. Another example at a different company is how I reached out to local companies to create gourmet baskets for valued clients. The products they shipped to us were free so it didn’t cost the company and the clients got a gift to take home.
- Breathe and Take a Moment: Just because a question is asked, doesn’t mean you blurt out the first thing you think of. It’s okay to take a moment, articulate a well thought out answer, and respond. I like to think in bullet points since that is how my resume is laid out. It makes it easier for me to remember and makes me stress less. If I ever feel like I am getting nervous I just take a breath, distract myself and re-group.
- Elevator Pitches: I like to have a well rehearsed one to two minute pitch about myself. You know, because the first question they always ask is “Tell me about yourself” right? It could be as simple as your name, what you graduated with, and some of your goals. You can also google examples because google is your BFF.
- Strengths and Weaknesses: Don’t you find it funny when they ask what makes you weak? It’s like; do you really want me to tell you? My suggestion: never say you are a perfectionist or have a problem working too hard. Even though I am a perfectionist, I’m going to tell them something else because it’s too cliche. An example might be that you are too impatient but remember to always put a positive spin on it. Say you’re impatient because you want to get your work done. For strengths, align them with the company’s goals and/or the tasks assigned to the role you are applying for.
- Salary: UGH, another question they always ask. I don’t like to give a number because then you are stuck with that number. If anything, give a range. You have more of a chance of falling into a good range than a number that is too high for the role. This goes back to researching, make sure you find out the average pay for the job so you don’t shoot too high or too low.
- Conquering Hard Questions: Why are you leaving your current job? Why do you want to work for us? Interviewers can ask some hard questions. If you do your research they tend to be a little easier to answer but you can’t do research on why you want to leave your current job right? An answer I often use – which tends to be true for me – is that I am looking for a growth opportunity or that my current role is no longer challenging. Never bad mouth your former companies, bosses or employees. It’s not classy and will leave a bad taste in the interviewer’s mouth.
- Conflicts: How do you handle conflicts? Another common question and similar to the good example. Always have a positive outcome handy with the proactive steps you took to resolve the issue. For example, if there was a disagreement during a group task, talk about how you found a common ground and got the task completed.
- The Exit: Questions and a follow up note are required. You know at the end of the interview when they ask if you have any questions for them? Guess what – you do. Always have one or two personalized questions ready to go. It shows you are engaged and serious about the job. Also, a follow up note leaves a nice reminder of who you are. If you can personalize the note with an experience you enjoyed from the interview (such as a topic you enjoyed talking about) that adds a nice touch.
Bonus! Dream Jobs: Even if your dream company isn’t hiring right now, you can still put in work in the meantime. Networking is so powerful and if you connect with someone who is respected and well-known that will only help your chances when the job becomes available.
Here is your pin-able:
Are you ready for your big interview? How did we do?
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