In a follow up to my last post about how to succeed at a job fair…I’d like to touch on some things you can do to ensure a successful interview. I know there are all sorts of websites you can go to for advice, but they always seem to say the same thing. I want to provide some unconventional advice that you may not have heard before.
1. Interview the interviewer: This is your time to find out if this is the job that you want to commit to. You aren’t just selling yourself during an interview! Give some clear thought to what’s important to you and maybe even make a list of deal makers and breakers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. For example, if you don’t want to be in a job where you wear a suit everyday, ask about the dress code.
During the interview for my current job I went to coffee with two people in my department. After working there, they told me I stood out because I asked good questions and they thought it showed that I knew what I wanted from a job. Of course you will spend the majority of the time being interviewed, but when it is your time to ask questions…never say you don’t have any! Have questions prepared before you walk in, but make sure not to ask about benefits, salary or time-off. These questions can be asked once you’re offered the job.
2. Feign your way into looking like you’re quick on your feet: What I mean by this is that interviewers ask some pretty common questions. You shouldn’t be surprised when you get situational ones thrown your way. Often times they start with, “Tell me a time when…” Be prepared before you go in by looking up common interview questions. My favorite resource is a book I picked up 10 years ago, but still used this year. 101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions, by Ron Fry.
There is one specific tip I want to mention: When asked to talk about a time when you encountered conflict and how you resolved it, this isn’t a time to bash your former employer/professor/peer. Sure you may have had a bum as a partner in a group project or your boss may be a jerk, but that is not what is important in this question. Interviewers are more concerned with how you view and resolve conflict. Instead of talking about how horrible your former boss was, maybe consider an internal conflict instead. When you talk badly about people during an interview, interviewers can’t help but think that you’ll be speaking the same way about them sometime soon.
3. Be personable without getting too personal
It is important to be real and personable, but you want to accomplish this without getting too personal. This interview is about your career, not your personal life. When thinking of examples to situational questions, use work and school based situations, not friendships, familial or romantic relationships. Remember what you’re showcasing and how you want to be perceived by your potential future employers.
Once again, do your homework and be prepared for the interview! The work you do beforehand will pay big dividends once in front of the interviewers.
If you have any questions please leave a comment here and hopefully you can get a wide range of ideas/opinions.
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