As most of you know I’ve been looking for work since we moved to Chicago. It is a long, emotional, draining process if you haven’t had to do it lately. If you are in the midst of job searching, I can relate! My husband, Chris, is so fortunate to have gotten on with a company straight out of college and has moved up as positions become available and has never really had to look for a new job for the past 12 years.
I, on the other hand, went to college to become a middle school teacher and got into the profession right as the economy collapsed in 2008-2009. Since then I’ve had to switch jobs for one reason or another over the past 10 years and have spent more than my fair share of time resume updating, cover letter writing and getting interviewing practice.
Here are my best tips for rocking your interview!
- Do your research on the company before you go in. This might sound like something you might have heard before, but I mean it! Don’t just go to a company website to find out what the company does, really poke around. When interviewing with a design company, I went and looked at projects that they featured on their site. In the interview, the person I was speaking with brought up a future project they were working on in Japan and it sounded like one that I read about them doing for Disney. So I chimed in, “Oh, is that similar to the project that you did for Disney?”. The interviewer was taken aback at my knowledge of that project and told me that the Disney project is the way that they landed this upcoming project. Most people feel good when a friend or spouse notices a new shirt or hair cut, and employers are no different.
- Be comfortable in your attire. Most of us don’t wear suits to work on a daily basis, but we all have one or two interview outfits that we have in the back of the closet that we pull out when needed. Since the move, my blazer jackets have gotten a little tight in the arms, and I no longer feel comfortable or confident in them. An interviewer will catch on to this small glitch in confidence. If you are on the job hunt, I say go out to buy something that you feel dynamite in! My suggestions for inexpensive interview clothes are Nordstrom Rack, Target, and JC Penny’s. Especially if the job you are interviewing for doesn’t require business attire daily, they won’t know that your entire outfit cost $50 off the clearance rack. Also, a job interview isn’t the time to try out a new hairstyle or makeup look. Do what you normally do so you can feel the most like yourself. I occasionally wear glasses, but don’t wear them to interviews because it is just one more thing that I can, and will, fidget with.
- Let there be pauses. This is something that I struggle with because I always want to jump in and give “the right” answer immediately. When I do this I end up with lots of fillers, “um”s, “uh”s, and “like”s, which we all know are interview no-nos. Take the time to pause and think about your answer before you start to speak. The interviewer won’t fault you for this, they will think you’re being thoughtful and thorough (as long as you don’t pause for minutes on end).
- Pick up what they are putting down. I legitimately JUST got off a phone interview with a company and she was speaking a lot about a collaborative office culture. I picked up that this was something that was important to their company and pulled out any past experiences I had helping to create or support a collaborative office culture. If you hear your interviewer speaking about confidentiality, speak to times that you had to work with confidential information in your previous positions.
- YOU are interviewing them too! Even though you might be hard up for money, or losing your mind without a job to go to every day, you are interviewing them as well. You need to find out if this company will be a good fit for you. Luckily I have a husband who can help make things work for us financially so I don’t feel the utmost urgency to take any position, although, I am losing it with nothing to do all day and I want to work. When you frame in your mind that you are interviewing them as well it takes away the power dynamic and helps you feel more at ease.
- Always always always have questions for your interviewer. Some of my go-tos are:
- How would you describe the work-life balance of this position?
- What is your office culture like?
- Who would this position be reporting to?
- Can you describe a typical day in this position?
- Do you have many clients coming into the office? Or is it a more self contained office without many visitors?
- Why is this position vacant? (Good to know if the person quit, grew into another position at the company, etc.)
- When can I look forward to hearing from you again about this position?
Those are my 6 top tips for rocking your interview. As I’ve been going through this interview process, it reminds me a lot of dating. So if you are dating, these tips can totally be used for that as well! Go out and live a life you are passionate about!