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Monday, April 14, 2014

3 Ways To Rock An Interview

I moved 900 miles for a job and it definitely wasn't because I sucked at interviewing. I had interviewer after interviewer tell me I was "great", "personable", "knowledgeable" etc. What it boiled down to was I did not have the skills and knowledge they wanted for the positions I applied for (bummer!). Getting in to talk to someone is definitely not the first step but it can hurt your chances if you do not do well. A successful interview boils down to three P's. You have to be prepared, look polished and be personable.

How to be Prepared

  •  Research the company, job and market. The more knowledgeable you are the more intelligent you will sound.
    • Knowing the company will let you prove to the hiring manager that you will fit in.
    • Knowing about the job will let you comfortably respond to questions about your experience, interest and weakness.
    • Knowing the market will make you sound relevant and prepared for trends and curve balls.
    • Start with a simple Google search than branch out to more specific avenues.
    • Do not forget to check social media since its where most companies post the most up to date information.
  • Research commonly asked interview questions. 
    • Examples include:
      • Tell me about yourself.
      • What is your strengths?
      • What is your weaknesses?
      • Why do you want this job?
      • What makes you want to join this company?
      • Tell me about a time when a customer or co-worker was not happy with your product or service and what you did to rectify the situation.
  • Use the job posting to make questions from the skills and duties listed. 
    • Example:
      • Posting says: 
        • Employee will be responsible for project management.
      • Sample questions: 
        • Tell me about a time when you lead a project that was successful/a disaster.
        • What is your leadership style?
        • How do you handle unhappy workers?
  • Practice these questions until you are comfortable with how fluently you can respond.

How to Look Polished

  • Research the company’s dress code. There is nothing worse than showing up under dressed.
    • Your outfit does not have to cost a bundle (unless maybe you are interviewing for a high-end company or a job in the fashion industry).
    • Your outfit does not have to be trendy. Some would even argue that trendy clothes are not the best place to make a debut in an interview. (There are exceptions like the fashion and art). If you feel the need to "show off" your style or individuality than stick to one solid piece that does not clash or distract from your skills and knowledge you would be bringing (think statement necklace).
    • If you are not sure what to wear grab a button up shirt, dress pants and dress shoes. If the position is for something a bit higher end, invest in a blazer and/or skirt. 
    • Clean clothes that are free of stains and odor show that you care, have good hygiene and take the interview seriously. 
    • Looking polished also means showering and putting your best face forward. 
    • Put your hair back if it is long to allow for direct eye contact and remove the distraction of hair falling in your face. 
    • If you do not wear makeup than leave your face bare. Showing your true self is better than a hack job or not feeling confident. If you do wear makeup, keep it simple and neutral. Again, this isn't the place to debut a catwalk look you saw at fashion week.

How to be Personable

  • Smile
  • Speak like you normally would...but better
    • Do not force jargon or market knowledge.
    • Take your time postulating complete thoughts.
    • Remove the umms! 
    • Repeat the question as a way to form the first part of your response and give your brain enough time to respond.
  • Have great posture; it oozes confidence
    • Back straight
    • Hips square
    • Feet shoulder length apart
    • Arms resting comfortably at a 90 degree angle
  • Engage in appropriate small talk
    • Avoid emotional topics like politics, religion, sports (unless you are interviewing for a job within the field!).
    • Try to make a personable connection by commenting on someone on or near the interview i.e. charm bracelet, photo, sports memorabilia (it’s okay once you find a common ground) and fandom references.
    • Keep in mind that anything misspoken, offending or just taken the wrong way can and will be used against you so pick topics you can actually back yourself up on.
  • Maintain eye contact
    • According to the Michigan State University you should maintain a 50% while speaking and 70% while listening eye contact ratio for 4-5 second intervals. 

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