We all know that looking for a job is basically a fulltime job on its own. As an intern on the hunt for a long-term position, I’ve often felt exhausted and overwhelmed. We’ve all read tips and chatted about interviewing, but I often find it’s the same generic advice. So, I decided to develop a list of the ultimate tips for interviewees (and also remind myself of the good stuff). Some things come from my own experiences (both positive and negative). I also went to the rockstar team at GovLoop for their input. So here you are, job searchers: our best tips for rocking your interview.
Make sure it’s a good fit
First (and I think foremost) take some time to reflect on your values. It’s always good to be open to possibilities, but make sure you have a general direction for your course. Take new opportunities to move toward something great that helps you grow. Make sure the interviewer understands how your personal goals are aligned with the strategic direction of their company and tell them specifically why you have a stake in the game in helping the company succeed beyond just making a pay check. But don’t lie to them, or yourself. If it’s not a good fit, it’s okay. You will fit somewhere else.
Get into the groove
Keep in mind that you are interviewing them, too. You will be spending a significant portion of your time there should you be hired. They aren’t hiring you as a favor; the relationship is mutually beneficial when companies hire talented people. It’s easy to get caught up in the anxiety of NEEDING TO FIND A JOB NOW! Make sure your values line up and that you like the company. If you’re desperate, you won’t get yourself the best deal. In negotiating terms, think about growing the pie for everyone, including yourself. Don’t waste your talent.
Don’t do canned questions or answers
Be creative and find a way to stand out when asking your interviewer questions, or providing answers to the standard Qs they’ll ask you. LinkedIn and Google are your friends. Spend at least one hour reading everything about the company. See what they’ve done recently (have they announced a new product, new hire, new acquisition, new strategy?). You can use that to ask them about something current (Hey, I saw you just launched a new X – how’s that going?).
You have to work for it; no one is going to hand you the job of your dreams. Come ready with anything the interviewer could ask for… Extra resumes, a cover letter, work samples and a positive attitude. Confidence is key. If you’re prepared, you will naturally be more confident. Another way to prepare is practice. Ask a mentor or friend to drill you. Make sure you choose someone who will give you constructive feedback and who understands the industry.
Don’t be trashy
Don’t trash your current or previous jobs – EVER. Always focus on the positive, even if the director directly asks why you left. Phrases like ‘I was looking for new challenges, despite loving X at my last job” are good ways to gloss over the negatives.
Do your stalking
Like I said, LinkedIn is your friend. Check out the person(s) who will be interviewing you. Do you have any connections in common? Are you from the same area? Find out what you can about the person. Just make sure to bring it up strategically; you have to find a way to bring it in to the conversation without throwing it off (or sounding creepy).
Make sure you’re presenting yourself as someone who could represent the company well. Show up early, dress to match the company culture, have a firm (not debilitating) handshake and don’t even think about checking your phone. Lastly, send a thank you note.
Last takeaway… Remember that you are valuable. Don’t sell yourself short. Now, go out and be an interview rockstar!