If you have been meandering through my blog thus far, you have been reading about my journey of self-improvement and pursuing a career of passion (and hopefully have started doing the same yourself). I have been through my fair share of interviews, each one different due to variations in jobs, personalities, and expectations.
I recently had the most difficult job interview of my life thus far, and I am so glad that I had followed the tips I am about to share with you. I know they work, because I got the job. And you can, too. So:
1. Research, research, research
For my recent interview, the job I was applying for had a very specific health issue focus. So I researched as much as I could on the topic, and learned everything I could. I also researched the actions and policies surrounding the health issue on a national, and then local, scale. I read the company mission and vision, and anything else they were stating on the topic. I started preparing a few days before the interview, so I had plenty of time to study.
Even if the position you are applying for doesn’t have a specific focus, research the company. What are they all about? What departments do they have? Do they have community giving or involvement? Who are the key players? Know as much as possible about the company and its endeavors so you can tailor your answers to potential questions.
2. Know your resume
Before every interview, even if I haven’t changed my resume, I take some time to study it. I review the title of my degree, my thesis, companies, and job responsibilities. I want to know which examples I used to which job, and then elaborate on them in my mind so I have illustrative examples.
Apparently, a lot of interviewers that go in for a job barely know their own resume. Take some time to familiarize yourself with what you have written down, so that when you are asked about a paper you wrote or a volunteer activity you did, you aren’t left stumbling and trying to recall the details of something that happened a while ago.
3. Prepare answers to possible interview questions related to the job description
It is important to prepare yourself with answers to the typical questions asked in an interview. What is your greatest strength? What is your weakness? How do you deal with difficult people? These are commonly asked and important to prepare answers for.
However, there is an emerging trend in interview questions that are more of the behavioral variety. Basically, this method asks to describe a time when you used your skill set to accomplish a goal, overcome an obstacle, or go above and beyond in a job. For example, an interviewer might say, “Tell me about a time when you brought a group of people together. What was the purpose? What was the outcome? What would you do differently?” The interviewer learns a lot more about your accomplishments and abilities to do a variety of tasks.
This can be intimidating, but use this method to your advantage. You can really showcase your skills and turn the conversation to highlight your accomplishments that may not have otherwise been discussed. This is why it is important to study the job posting and job description. Try to garner what the interviewers may be looking for and prepare possible answers to questions. If the job description is looking for an individual to work with a team on sales pitches’, recall specific examples of successful teams you have been on and be able to describe your strategies to accomplish your goals. The more prepared you are with personal work experiences and skills, the more ready you are for any question thrown your way.
Don’t forget to prepare questions for the interviewers as well. Asking more about them shows that you are serious about the job and are interested in the role you can play in the company. One of my favorite questions to ask is “What are your future goals and how can I help you to achieve them?”
4. Meditate and get some sleep
Preparation is important, but so is rest and composure. At the end of each night and the morning of the interview, I took some time to close my eyes, take deep breaths, and regain calmness in my heart. I can easily get overwhelmed by anxiety, so I know it is especially important to take this mental break so I don’t become a frantic, sweaty mess by the time I walk into the interview. Have a glass of wine, take a bubble bath, or whatever you need to do to relax. Visualize yourself calm and collected, and take this restfulness to bed and sleep well.
5. Confidence is key
The morning of the interview, I took measures to look and feel the most confident I could. I did my hair up (so I wasn’t tempted to brush it off my face, a big no-no during the interview), I wore an outfit I felt powerful and professional in, and I picked jewelry that had emotional meaning to me. I was literally ready from head to toe.
Even though it shouldn’t matter as much, outer appearance is still a judgement factor in our society. You don’t have to be America’s Next Top Model here, but look your best. Take a shower and clean yourself up nicely.
Just as important is your inner beauty. Let your charming personality shine through. Stand tall, shoulders back, and no fidgeting. Smile and mean it. Look at an interview as a discussion instead of an interrogation. You want to showcase yourself and your talents, but also decipher if the job is the right fit for you.
Deep breath, and get it. Now is your time to shine.