Over these past few months of being employed, then unemployed, then employed, then unemployed, then finally employed again (man it’s been a crazy year!), when it comes to job hunting and interviewing, I feel like I’ve been through it all! Well, that and I’ve been obsessively reading everything I can about careers and looking for a new job so my brain’s full of information and advice on how to interview like pro!
Anywho, since I’ve been employed for the past month and have actually had some time to reflect on my experience this summer, even though I’ve been in the workforce for over 4 years now (not including my 5 years working part-time while in school), I’ve discovered a bunch of new (or new to me) dos and don’ts when it comes to interviewing like a pro.
I know I wrote about ways to help you land a job in August, and I still think all of those job-finding pointers ring true, but I want to get into a bit more detail about interviewing specifically for today’s post. Wednesday I’ll be following this up with what not to do when interviewing, so make sure you check back for that! Ok, let’s begin…
1. Interview the interviewer as much as they are interviewing you
Ok, that’s a bit wordy, but what I mean is don’t just go into an interview and tell the interviewer what they want to hear just to better your chances of getting the job. As I learned this summer, it’s just as important to show the interviewer that you are a good fit for the role as it is to make sure the company and office culture are a good fit for you.
Sometimes it’s hard to think this way, especially when you are unemployed and desperate for work, but it’s better to find out beforehand if the company and/or job aren’t right for you rather than finding out after you’ve accepted the position.
2. Send a thank you note after your interview
As a nice courtesy after an interview, and as an excuse to reiterate your interest in the position, make sure to send an email thanking your interviewer for their time and for the opportunity to be considered for the job. Obviously, only do this if you actually want the job, but it’s an easy way to show the interviewer your professionalism and enthusiasm for the role.
Also, on a bit of a side note, if you do get an email or phone call from the interviewer (or whoever is in charge of hiring), make sure to respond back as soon as possible. These hiring people are dealing with a number of candidates so being prompt and following up will make a big difference.
3. Don’t think you have a job offer until you’ve actually signed the offer
It’s hard to not to get excited after an interview goes really well, and it’s even harder not to share with your friends and family that you think the job is in the bag, but a key thing to remember in order to avoid disappointment down the road is that you don’t have a job offer until you have it in writing.
To be fair, I actually got an offer over the phone for my current job, however I did still have to sign a formal offer and email it back within 24 hours.
That being said, there have been a few jobs I’ve interviewed for this summer that I was positive I was going to get but ended up being rejected for. As Ask a Manager always suggests to her readers, even if you think you’re going to get an offer, instead of waiting around for weeks on end, the best thing to do is mentally move on and keep applying to more jobs.
4. Do a ton of research before your interview
By that I mean you better know everything about the company, their business, and the position before you go into an interview. Interviews are stressful and sometimes nerve-racking, so the best plan of action is to be prepared for any question. The worst thing to happen in an interview is to be asked a question you don’t have an answer for (with the exception of those out-of-left-field questions like “If you were animal, what animal would you be?”).
For instance, you should know what your strengths and weaknesses are, have a good reason for leaving your last position, and be able to recount a time when you had a difficult work-related situation to overcome and how you resolved it. What I always do before any interview is make a list of practice questions then type out my answers the day before the interview so they are fresh in my mind for the next day.
5. Dress appropriately and arrive early
I kid you not, I once went to an interview and noticed that the person who was interviewing before me was wearing yoga pants. Yoga pants! My motto is you can never overdress for an interview. You want to look as mature and professional as possible, even if that means wearing really uncomfortable heels and putting flip-flops in your purse for afterwards.
As for being on time for an interview, I always try to be at least 10 to 15 minutes early for any interview just to give myself a good buffer. There was a time when I thought I was going to miss my interview time completely because Google Maps told me to go in the opposite direction of where the building was, but luckily I asked someone for the right directions and ran as fast as I could to make it on time (which I did thankfully).
I guess my third tip would be to not put all of your trust into Google Maps.
What are some of your tried and true tips to interview like a pro?