Heading into an interview for a potential new job can be super intimidating. Usually, when going to an interview, we need a job. Money is probably tight, so there is a lot of pressure to land a job. This stress & pressure can sometimes get to the best of job seekers, making the interview a painful experience. But, it doesn’t have to be. With some preparation and clear thinking, you can have a great interview and (hopefully) land that job.
I spent several years as a manager for a major corporation. Believe me, you know its logo. There is one on every corner. Overpriced (in some people’s opinions) coffee. You know it. What came with that high profile company was a clear expectation of what we were looking for in new employees. The interview process was clear cut, and the “right” kind of answers were outlined. They had done their research & knew what would make a successful hire. Through conducting hundreds of interviews there, I learned how to pick out the great candidates within the first three minutes. I also have learned how to ace an interview myself.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Did I mention that you should prepare for the interview? Nothing would signal a red flag more than someone who answered question #1 (Why do you want to work at __________?) than “I like to help people.” You are looking for a job in a MAJOR COMPANY. That’s all you got? How about the 401k benefit? How about the work we are doing in countries all over the world to leave the places better than we found them? Nothin?? Look up the company where you have the interview. Do your research. Google “benefits of working at ____”. Go into the interview knowing about the company. Small business? Look on Yelp for customer reviews. Look for the customer favorite dish, product, etc. Wow you interviewer by showing a genuine interest in the company and what it stands for. It shows a care and passion for their business model that 9 out of 10 people will fail to mention.
Timing is Everything
Do not show up for an interview on time. Or late. Unless something HUGE has happened, being late for an interview is a BAD SIGN. Sometimes you will have to wait on your interviewer for a few minutes. If this happens, do not pull out your cell phone and start playing Candy Crush. Stand up, take a stroll around the store/shop. Look at things. Pick out a couple of things to comment on or ask questions about. Look interested. Look eager. Do not look bored. And for the love of God do not take a selfie in the lobby.
Dress to Impress
So, maybe the job you are interviewing for is at a daycare center. Or a lawn care company. Or a coffee shop. There is never any excuse to show up in jeans. Ever. And do not ask the person setting up the interview what you should wear. Always dress up in business casual clothes. Look like you want the job, not like you couldn’t be bothered. Money tight? Borrow a jacket or cardigan from a friend or parent. Head to the thrift store and get a decent pair of pants or a skirt. a $10 investment will make a big impact. Trust me.
And the Answer Is?
Never answer an interview question with “I don’t know.” Ever. If you are asked about a scenario & how you would act, make up the scenario and insert how you would react. At least you will be creative and show that you can think through a situation. Don’t use this as a chance to turn yourself into a superhero, leaping over tall buildings, etc. But do show how you would handle a situation (lots of times, this is the “tell me about a time when you failed to meet a customer’s expectations.” type question.)
With this information, you can set yourself for success when heading in to an interview. And please, do not get discouraged if you don’t think you got the job. If that is the case, ask the interviewer on the phone when they call to say “thanks, but no thanks” what you could have done better/shown in the interview to get that job. Maybe it wasn’t you, but just that there was another candidate with more experience, better availability, etc. But use that conversation as a tool to get more information, learn how to improve or change, and make the next interview even better! And keep trying. You will find a job. You will impress your new boss. You will be a success.