Saturday, January 5, 2013

Interview Tips

I was recently asked at a Christmas party for advice on interviewing. I admit that I am usually more focused on finding jobs for people that I really never have given advice beyond that point.

Thinking back to all the interviews that I have done, and there have been many, I have found that in general, you get better at everything through practice. Lots and lots of practice. The more practice, the better. In fact, landing so many jobs is how this blog came to be, so perhaps I am doing something right.

1.      Always look nice…whether or not you wear a suit. That gives you instant confidence. If you look and feel like a million bucks, usually your attitude follows.

2.      Create a cheat sheet. Keep track of the questions. In the IT field, I find that I get the same technical questions over and over again. When you get home, try to write down all the questions you can remember and look up the answers…it’s good to double check what you may have said. Soon you’ll have a study guide for you to review before each interview to give you even more confidence.

3.      Practice. (There it is again!) It might feel weird talking to yourself in the mirror or role playing with a friend, but the more you get used to talking about yourself, the better you’ll get at it. While it is odd in our culture to brag about ourselves, this is the one chance you get to speak for an hour about a topic you should know very well: yourself. Sometimes it’s good to interview even when you’re not sure if you want the position or for a position that is out of your league. It’s great experience.

4.      During the interview, sit up and lean forward. If you get dry mouth, go ahead and ask for a glass of water, although most places will offer you something to drink. I admit that I always pass on the free drink because I’m worried about spilling the glass while I talk. I tend to use my hands to talk so it’s safer to keep the table in front of me clear. I even put my bag on the floor so it’s not a distraction.

5.      I like to make the interview more of a conversation because that is the kind of people I want to work with. I did have an experience where the Manager purposely gave no emotion and while I was able to sound confident, I was not interested in going to work for him. You go to work for people, not companies.

6.      Be honest. If you don’t know an answer, just say so. You don’t want to find yourself down a hole that you can’t get out of. If they don’t like you for you, then it would not be a good fit if you did land the job. While we may not always get to be choosy, you have to like them as much as they like you. If you end up turning down the job offer, leaving a good impression might get back to the recruiting company that sent you or the company may come after you again down the road for another position.