Get The Job: Everything You’ll Need To Know About Interviewing

When I was in high school my mom spent a considerable amount of time and resources teaching me business etiquette and interview skills. At the time, of course, I scoffed at her and continued ripping my jeans (it looked tragic, just tragic). However, after  going to college I was so thankful that she forced me (kicking and screaming) to attend business etiquette courses, dinners and lunches because people found me very professional and poised. Working at the campus career center only solidified what my mother taught me in high school. However, and most importantly, what I learned was effective. Very effective. I don’t mean to sound conceited, but I have always been hired for the job/internship that I am given the chance to interview for. If I interview, I get the job. It sounds crazy, but it’s 100% true. Now I’m going to help you get the job. I was in recruiting for a couple of years and I’m just going to be frank with you. Most people don’t really know what they’re doing when they interview people, so they often pick people who just interview well. So if you can get in there and kick-ass, that alone increases your chances of getting the job exponentially. Getting the interview is another issue entirely, but when you get to the interview phase here are some tricks, tips, advice and just about everything you’ll need to become a good interviewer and get the job you want.

 What Not To Wear 

 You’ve heard this a hundred times already, but I’m gonna say it again. Dress decently for your interview. I haven’t recruited for that long, but I’ve seen people show up in wrinkled clothes, smelly clothes and even wear jeans. It’s unprofessional. Don’t do it.  You should dress according to the line of work you’re interviewing for. I like to divide it into three sections: Law firm, Corporate, Artistic. For a law firm, you must always dress to the nines or business formal. Have a suit, loafers and briefcase. For corporate, you can dress down just a little bit. You’ll notice that some of the employees are just pretty casually. So I say its safe to dress in business or business casual. Artistic is totally up to you. If you’re applying to work within music, art, or photography then get creative and express yourself with what you wear.

Do Your Research

Your interviewer will most likely ask you why you want to work for them, what draws your interest, why you applied, what excites you about working at their company, or why you think you’ll be a good fit for their company. None of these questions cannot be answered without doing your research. If you make up some bull-crap they’ll know, and you’ll look like such an idiot. So look for these three things when doing your research and you’ll be good to go:

  •  What They Do/Make – This is soooo important. I cannot stress this enough. Know what the   company does or makes. If you don’t know any of this, you might as well not go to the interview at all. Knowing what they do will help you to align your interests with their products or services. You always want to show to them that you cared enough to do your research and that you’ll be the perfect choice for the job because you know about about what they do and love it. 
  • Their Mission Statement – What are trying to accomplish? What are their goals and why did they start the company? Every company has an objectives and goals. Know what those are and convince the interviewer that you can help them toward those goals because you have skill in X, a passion for Y and experience to boot. If you don’t have experience, then just sell the skill and passion part really well.  
  • Their Values – Look for the type of person they may want to hire. You can tell this either from their about page or from the employee listing page. Sometimes they list their employees’ backgrounds. See if you notice any trends at all. Look at their photos as well. Are they stiff and professional looking, or are they smiling and charismatic? That may give you some clues into the type of person they like to hire. Look to see if you can spot what their values are as well. Look to see if certain words are repeated over and over. If you see the word passionate, devoted, professional, best, or prestigious over and over, then that tells you what reputation or appearance they want the company to have. Most likely they’ll want employees that emulate those values. So look to incorporate them in your interview.
  • Company Culture – This often gets overlooked during the research phase, but its also pretty important. Sometimes interviewers will ask what environment you prefer to be in or what is your ideal working conditions. Look for photographs on the website or look to see if their employees are divided by teams. If so, you’ll most likely be working in a team environment. If you see photos of merrymaking and happiness, you might be able to bet that they have a very casual work environment. If there are no photos or anything to work with, then wait till you get in the company. While they are taking you to the interview room, look around and try to judge the environment by quick glance. You should also ask what the environment is like during the interview.
  •  The Job Description – Always read the job description and check it twice. Everything that they are looking for in an employee is in that job description. Look for specific qualities and bring those up in your interview. Make sure you address the negative aspects of the job too. For example, if the job has a lot of travel, (make sure you’re okay with it first then) reassure them that you’re totally fine with it. 

Look Them in the Eyes and Speak Up!

I was told once in an interview that they turned the other applicants away sorely based on the fact that they twiddled with their thumbs awkwardly and didn’t look the interviewer in the eyes during the interview. So maintain a smile and eye contact throughout the whole session. It shows that you know what you’re talking about and are confident in your abilities whether you actually are or not. Fake it till you make it! Also make sure to speak loud and clearly. I noticed that people that were a bit clearer and louder were looked upon more favorably in recruiting. To be frank, they often want to see that you’re a leader, even if they don’t put you in a leadership position. In fact, you’ll probably be in a team situation where you won’t get to lead anything for a long time. What they actually want is someone who will take orders in the well, yet acts like a leader in interviews. After all, you do have to stand out.

Tell an Interesting Story

Always include an interesting story of your experiences. For example, I am often asked if I can multitask well. If I just say yes, then that doesn’t actually answer the question and leaves them wondering if it’s actually true at all. However, when I say, “Yes, when I worked at X company, it was my daily responsibility to answer phones, greet people at the door, make connections with potential clients, and juggle cats. It was definitely alot, but I loved what I was doing because I learned X and got to speak to Y.” Try to tell interesting (and entirely truthful) stories about your experiences, because it shows that you enjoyed your work and that you actually learned something. It also intrigues the interviewer. They’ll want to keep talking to you and learning about you. If you tend to have trouble telling interesting stories, think of your previous experiences and prepare a story or two  ahead of time. Please remember to stick to the point of the question. Don’t go on long tangents with your stories, its becomes a travesty.

Have an Answer to Every Questions

Never leave a question unanswered or have some vague response. If they surprise you with a question you don’t know the answer to, don’t panic. “I’m not sure” is a perfectly fine answer. Interviewers like to see that you admit when you don’t know the answer to something. They know that you don’t know everything. If you like, you can ask about it after the interview. If there’s a question that they ask and the answer is negative, for example that you don’t have experience in X or you don’t know something, turn it around to your advantage and let them know that you are excited about learning about it,  or that you have Y skill, which should make it easier for you to learn X. 

Read Their Body Language

Often times I can tell what kind of answer my interviewers are looking for based on their body language. Experienced recruiters will attempt to look very partial and non-biased in their interviews, but you can always tell what they really want from you. Listen to them describe the job description and what they’re looking for. Listen carefully.
  • If they seem to repeat certain qualifications or skills, keep that in mind. They must really want the person they hire to have those qualifications. 
  • If they say something negative about their job/company, file that away because you’ll need to prove that you can handle it.
  •  If they look concerned or stutter a bit when describing a certain aspect of the job, that means that they are slightly worried that you don’t have the experience to deal with it or that you won’t want to deal with it. File that away as well, you’ll need to prove, confidently, that you can and will. 
  • If they appear distant or disengaged. Pull out your charisma and try to get their full attention. They may not be sold on you. So make eye contact, smile and try to sell yourself well. 
  • Watch their wording. If they say “What you will be doing in the position is…” then that means that they probably like you a lot and are pushing to hire you. They have subconsciously put you in the position. If they say “What you would be doing is,…”  then you still have some selling to do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean defeat. Experienced recruiters will use this to keep unbiased and difficult to read, fortunately most recruiters aren’t that experienced so you’re probably good. 
  • If they describe the opportunity to make it sound kind of basic, then they think you’re a bit over qualified. You’ll have to convince them that this job is better for you than a job that you are better qualified for, and why you are passionate about it. 

Always Have Questions

You must ALWAYS have questions. It shows that you are truly interested in the job and what you’ll be getting into. It also shows that you care to find out if it’s a good fit for you. My favorite questions are as follows: 
  • What is the environment like? 
  • Do people tend to work independently or in a team? 
  • What did you do before accepting this position? 
  • What skills do you think are most important to have to excel in this position? 
  • What’s your favorite part of having this job? Least favorite? 
  • Can you describe your average day? 
I know it’s a lot, but just keep calm and do your best. Interviews are just socially acceptable arenas to judge someone mercilessly in a short period of time to see if someone will be a good employee. Treat it as such and prepare well. It’s hard to judge you in an hour! So give them everything they need to make an accurate assessment. The better prepared you are, the less likely you will be to be anxious about being judged. That being said, interviews are a very logical place to be nervous. Let yourself be nervous, it’s okay. Just try not to let it show.

Typical Interview Questions:

  • Why did you apply for this job?
  • Why are you interested in our company?
  • How does your previous experience apply to this position?
  •  Why do you think you’ll be a good fit?
  • What excites you about the role?
  • What potential problems do you think will arise?
  • What is your ideal manager-employee relationship?
  • Do you work well in a team?
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake. What did you do to fix it?
  • Tell me about a time things didn’t go as planned. How did you deal with it?
  • How do you stay organized? (I often say lists) 
  • How do you de-stress?
  • What three skills would make you most qualified for this job?
  • Can you describe our product in your own words?
  • Describe your experience at your previous company

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