Sometimes in life, you just feel like half way through. Half way through school, half way through your workout, half way home… And we have to win the other half! And sometimes one of these halves is a job interview, something (and most of the time someone(s)) standing between you and your dreamed job.
In this article I will give some tips on how to handle a job interview.
Do your homework!
You will have to gather as much knowledge as you can regarding the company and its stakeholders. Maybe not to the point of profiling their own personalities and knowing the tiniest of their habits, but surely getting to know the values and the culture of the organization will help you to organize your speech ignorer to approach the situation when the time comes for the interview.
Regarding the people you are going to be meeting with, it may be hard to figure out what they are looking for in the person of a potential employee or teammate. But social media can be of interest in that regard if you can see the kind of people they are following and socializing with. It can also help you picking up some topic for an ice-breaking discussion for example, or writing down your list of questions! And yes, absolutely, you will want to have some thoughtful questions to ask when you will be invited to do so during the interview. So go on and work on that list!
It all about the data
The same way you check online about companies that offer the job you are applying to, it is equally important that you check your own data online. Audit your social media profiles, Google search (and Google image)… Make sure nothing in there could ever get you in trouble in your job search… By the way, more generally speaking, it is good practice to check these every once in a while and to have you Facebook ring fenced to your own network instead to let it publicly accessible.
While crafting your resume, keep things up around accurate metrics and bring in blaring data from your latest role:
- how your process optimization increased productivity (be it your own or your whole team’s) from X to Y percent,
- how clients did you have in your own self-managed portfolio ,
- how long did you stay in that particular role,
- List your (personal) achievements… Not just your former to-dos!
While being there, it’s always useful to mention any volunteering as it shows you’re caring about others and your community… And that’s great to demonstrate team spirit! It also shine a light on your open mindedness and resourcefulness.
Don’t forget the logistics!
Check the address on Google Map so you’re more prepared and know what to look for when you arrive on site. If you live close by to the area and are able to make the trip in the days before that’s even better, so you can check the commute or the route and have a better idea of the time it will take.
First impression matters, appearance does too! And people will want to know if you are going to fit in the team and into the company’s culture. One of the indicators for that is the way you dress. And the tricky thing is that it all depends of the people within the company! Don’t assume that business men or lawyers are alway wearing suits… Sometimes an attire that is too sophisticated is worse than a selfless casual one…
You really have to find some kind of balance here. Again one of the key for that is checking the corporate identity of the company online and on social media. You will probably find a page on the company’s website presenting the team members, or a gallery or a video showcasing the premises and/or the everyday life in the company. It’s worth having a look. Also, it doesn’t hurt asking, once you’ve been invited for the interview, about any particular dress code in place in the company.
On another hand, don’t be too cheap and patch up clothes together. If you need a proper pair of pants or a proper skirt, go buy some! If you don’t have any yet, these are basics you are guaranteed to need much more than once. There are like salt and pepper, you always have to have some, somewhere around.
Be on time
There you are, this is the big day so wether or not there is apocalyptic weather outside, you have to leave early enough to avoid being late. That could be an absolute killer for your whole application. I know it’s a bit unfair but that’s the truth of the real world! If you can’t manage to be on time for a job interview, how will you do under fire with 3 projects or tasks to deliver on a 3 hours deadline?! And yes this happens… A lot.
So basically, let’s suppose that you did all that you could to be on time but unfortunately you are not going to make it and you are going to be more than 5 minutes late… Just move on and don’t show up… That lead will be cold dead by then. If you feel like it you can always give a call to the recruiter and say something really urgent came up at the last minute and maybe you’ll be able to get the interview rescheduled but there is no guarantee. Anyway what I mean is showing up while being more than 5 minutes late is an outrage in the corporate world and that will not bring you any good. So just be on time, and ideally be early, like 5 or 10 minutes early. That appears very neat.
So you are there, on time. That’s great. But it’s sensible you’re quite strung up and you know what ?! Nothing is going to happen for the next 10 or 15 minutes. You’re going be greeted, released from your coat, bag, or whatever accessories the day will have got you to bring in, then you will be proposed something to drink… Everything is going to be fine so there is no need to stress out at this stage! Instead focus on some ice-breaking approach, something you’ve read on the company’s website or their blog…
Also, it helps not to be trying to appear like someone you’re not. So just be yourself. Otherwise you are going to waste a lot of energy pretending to be someone else, for nothing because at some point your true personality will pop up. Also, the more you pretend, the more stress you put on yourself…
Like when we’re home, it’s custom to greet our professional partners with a bit of hospitality and propose them something to drink. However, be aware you’re not at the coffee house around the corner (even if you are interviewing at that same coffee house). So when asked for what you would like to drink, don’t go with your usual half-lactose-free-gluten-free-fairtrade-mochacino-with-a-cloud-of-organic-hazelnut-cream-on-the-top… If you don’t feel like having anything in particular, just ask for glass of water! It’s always useful!
Get the drift
The interview has started a while ago and something doesn’t seem quite right… It might be because you and you interviewer are not on the same key. It’s important to remain at the right place and not to be taking the lead of the interview. Otherwise you will intimidate and involve defiance from the recruiter. It’s also important not to be looking like you’re in a hurry or you want to force a successful end to the meeting. On the other hand, you have to know when it’s time to move on into the meeting or when it’s time to end it. So it’s all about body language and listening here.
The interview is going well. Soon, after they presented the company, ask you a few questions about your profile and other things, your interviewer asks you if you have any question about the role or about the company. The worst thing to say is « No I’m good thanks! ». That translates into: you have no interest in the role or the company, you just want a pay cheque so why the recruiter should waste any more time talking or working with you.
Instead, get your list of thoughtful questions you will have prepared during your research phase (I told you, you would have to ask some questions). However sometimes, it’s true, you just can’t find any question to ask. And that’s when the dumb answer « No thanks, I’m good » is so easy to pitch in. Rather than saying that, keep it around the classics:
- « What is it like working here? »
- « What does the typical day look like? »
- « Are there many team events? »
- « What is the average age across the team?»
Be careful though, DO NOT get anywhere near the compensation package unless it’s been brought on by the recruiter. This will make you look like you’re only interested in the benefits and the pay cheque.
trust your guts
We all have that. Guts, instinct telling us what to think about a certain situation and wether or not we should stick around or leave. Well, our guts have their words to say about what we’ll do for a living, or more specifically where we’ll be doing it. Therefore, if something doesn’t seem quite right to you in what you see or what you feel (it could the ambiance, the way people behave or talk, the product(s) you’d be working on…), maybe it doesn’t worth it that you loose an hour of your time and your interviewer’s talking about an opportunity that is not one for you after all. And surely you’d have to move on to the next one, life is too just short!
The game changer
Finally, as you’ve read through this all, I’d like to give a little trick here. Something you can use to turn the whole thing around if you’d like to shake things up a bit in the interview and surprise recruiter. When comes the time for questions, ask this :
– « In your opinion, what distinguishes a good employee and an excellent employee ?»
Surprise effect is almost guarantee and this could even turn around a whole freezing-cold interview… I’ve used it quite a few times and that usually got me out of trouble in making a fairly good impression as a potential employee.
Here are my advise to manage and handle your next job interview. I hope this has been helpful to read. Please let me know your thoughts on these in the comments below!