September Writing Challenge #20 – How to Ace a Job Interview
This post is part of the 30 Day Writing Challenge, but I plan on going into deeper detail in a “Career Series” in the future, so I’m just going to give you my 5 most important tips for how to ace a job interview and get that offer letter!
I have 14 years of HR experience, with 9 of those years being strictly HR, which includes a lot of recruitment and interviews. I think last week alone I sat in 14! I have experienced some amazing interviews, met some incredible people, and sat through some not so great interviews. I have yet to find someone who enjoys being interviewed, but unfortunately, it’s still a necessary evil to getting a job. One question that I’m frequently asked by people is what they need to do in an interview in order to get the job. I can provide specialized advice depending on what you interviewing for, but the tips below are 5 that will work for everyone in every role and every industry:
- Be Professional: This means showing up on time (definitely not late, but also not too early – 5-10 mins before the start time is perfect), greeting the receptionist, or whoever you are meeting with, in a friendly and professional manner, and dressing according to the position and the company. If you are interviewing at a trendy graphic design company, a suit is probably a little over the top, and I wouldn’t recommend showing up in jeans to a law firm.
- Be Time-Conscious: You can usually assume that unless you are told otherwise, an interview will be around 60 minutes. Don’t go so fast that you end up leaving in 15 minutes, but don’t answer questions in so much detail that you end up going off track and the interview runs over the allotted time frame. It shows that you have time management skills and respect for other peoples time. Plus, who wants to sit in an interview for longer than they really need to?!
- Customize: Try to bring everything back to the organization and the role you are applying for. If you are asked why you want the role, tell them how much you want to work for the organization (and why) and how you feel you are perfect fit for the position, and how the position is a perfect fit for you. Don’t give generic answers. Show your passion for what you are interviewing for. Trust me, it goes a long way!
- Don’t Be Too Personal: You can almost guarantee that you will be asked to talk about yourself and it’s so tempting to respond with “well I have 3 kids, I live in the ‘burbs and I love the colour blue”. Don’t do that! Unless explicitly requested, when asked to tell the recruiter about yourself, always focus on your work experiences (or volunteer if it applies) and education in relation to the role. Again it shows your passion for the position, your professionalism, and the personal stuff will always come later.
- Ask Questions: It is so disheartening when the candidate doesn’t have any questions. There has to be something that you want to know after spending an hour together. If you can’t think of anything, or if your questions have been answered throughout the course of the interview, it’s always a good idea to ask about culture and team fit. It’s a reminder to the interviews that you are also interviewing the organization as much as they are interviewing you and it shows your interest in and dedication to the role. It doesn’t hurt to bring a notebook with you to jot down questions as you go, or to come prepared with.
Now go get that job! Good luck!