Last week I was asked to be an interviewer for mock interviews at the school where I got my masters. There was a class of seniors who are preparing for life in the real world so the professor wanted some of us with different types of interview history to come in and help them be better prepared. There was a group of 5 of us who came with all different types of background in the interview process. There was one person who used to be an HR director at a small company, one who is part of an interview team, one who had to look over resumes before they were passed onto the boss, one who was in an industry for a long time and just went through the interview process in a completely different field, and me; I interview for a living.
We each had a different perspective on the interview process so it was fun to hear their tips and tricks to get noticed and get hired in this day and age. I thought that since I found it interesting, maybe you would to!
Tip 1: Be Yourself
Interviewing is the easiest thing to do because all you are doing is talking about yourself. You know your history, you know your skills so all you have to do is walk into an interview, act confident and talk about your work history. If you can stay true to who you are (or at least who you are at work) you are more likely to be placed in a company where you fit in and where the people around you are similar to you. If you walk into an interview and are outgoing and loud, but in reality you want to work in a quiet place, you will be placed in a company where the atmosphere is noisy. This will all be because the employer saw you and thought, “this person will fit in perfectly here!” Whereas if you were yourself the right company will notice that you are hard-working who likes to socialize, but knows there is a time for work and a time for chatting. Knowing what atmosphere you are most comfortable in and relaying that to an employer will ensure that you work in a place that you feel comfortable.
Tip 2: Never Put Down a Number
A lot of interviews will get towards the end and the interviewer will ask if you have a price point in mind. If possible, do NOT answer this question. Simply reply with, “it’s negotiable”. This will ensure that you aren’t saying a number that is too high or too low for the line of work you’re in. Usually they will quote you a figure and then you can work from there. If you absolutely HAVE to put a price on it, make sure you have done your work first. Look at jobs that are similar to the work you would be doing, understand why they are priced that way and take into account the company you are interviewing at. Knowing a little bit of why the job is salaried at the price it is will help you better explain why you think you should be paid $X (again, only if you have to).
Tip 3: Get Creative
Are you interviewing at a place where you will be doing something creative, it’s not a bad idea to tailor your resume to show off your skills in that area. Research creative resumes and see what other people have done, then put your own personal twist on it. Making your resume stand out will make you stand out while showing that you know the industry.
Tip 4: Dress Appropriately
Now this may seem like a no brainer, but I heard some crazy stories so I had to put this one in here. Make sure that you are dressing for the job you want. No logos on your shirts, clothes should fit properly, and try to not be too over dressed or under dressed. If possible, find a coffee shop near the business and spend an hour or so the week before watching what the employees are wearing (then get a little fancier). This will ensure that you don’t stand out and even that you would fit in at the company.
Tip 5: Send A Thank You Note
Finally, whenever possible send a hand written thank you note to the person you interviewed with. Thank them for having you and maybe even recap a point that will show why you would be a great candidate. If possible, ask the interviewer what their hiring time frame looks like. If they are hiring that week make sure to send it the next day, but if they are hiring within the next day or two send an e-mail because otherwise they won’t get the thank you until after they have made their decision. The e-mail should really only be done if necessary. Also remember that thank you notes are not expensive so make sure that you invest in a good set because it is rather tacky to send one that looks like you fished it out of your mother’s junk drawer.
So there you have it; 5 tips on having a successful interview. What tips or tricks do you have to ensure that your interviews go smoothly?