May ended up being a bit of a crazy month for me, so I took an unplanned blog hiatus. I've been back blogging for a week or two, but I held off on any new The Young Professional posts; I wanted to start fresh in June. So, here we are.
Recap: The Young Professional is a weekly (every Monday) blog series here on Dreams and Colour. We have covered job searching, resumes and cover letter writing. All posts can be found under The Young Professional tag.
Today, we are talking about interviews and how to prepare for them.
It's so exciting to get a phone call (or email) asking you to come in and interview for a position. All of your hard work and energy spent looking for and applying to jobs is starting to pay off when people want to meet you. It's motivating to get interviews. Interviews can also be daunting. It can be intimidating to go in and meet someone new and have to sell yourself as to why you are perfect for the position. Being prepared can help calm your nerves when you are in the actual interview.
What should you do pre-interview to prepare?
- Ask who you are meeting with. Get the name of the person interviewing you and look them up on LinkedIn. See if you can find any common ground; mutual friends, same alma mater or former employer. If you can find a connection with someone, it will make you feel more comfortable. Also, don't be afraid to bring up the connection. A few months ago, I interviewed with someone I met almost 3 years ago at Brock Homecoming. I mentioned this and aspects of our meeting to jog his memory. He went from all business to friendly, which helped me relax.
- Know where you are going. Going somewhere you've never been before can be stressful, add this to the already stressful pending interview situation and things have the potential to not be good. Google map your interview location and, if possible, take a drive to the place. It will give you a chance to figure out where you are going, find parking, etc. You might think you don't need to do this because you have GPS, but do it anyway. The morning of an interview, my GPS turned on and then died when I put the address in. Did I start to panic? Of course. But I knew the general area of where the interview was and I also remembered the google map directions, so I got there ok and on time.
- Get a phone number. You never know what might happen to prevent you from getting to your interview. I had my car break down on the way to an interview for my current job (I called a taxi and got there with 3 minutes to spare). If I was going to be late, I would have called to give them a heads up- which is just the considerate thing to do, FYI. Another time, I knew where the interview was, as I had been on that street many time, but I hadn't been in a while. I'm driving down the street, I could see the building, and the train track you used to be able to drive over is now blocked by a fence. Thank goodness I had a phone number! I was able to call them and explain the situation and they were able to give me directions on how to get to their building.
- Watch Dragons Den or Shark Tank. People on these shows are not only there to sell their products or ideas to investors, but also themselves. Watch a few episodes and study how people sell themselves, take note and apply them to yourself and interview skills. The Dragons/Sharks, also ask interview questions; these are great questions for your to practice answering. (I wish I could take credit for thinking of this tip...but it actually came from a friend I had lunch with the day before I had an interview).
- Visit the website of the company you are interviewing with. This is so important. This is your crash course on the company. Take a look at their history/about page and make note of some key information that you can memorize. In my current job, I was able to mention who founded the organization and why. In a previous interview, I was able to mention that the company I was applying to had been bought out by a different company less than a year ago. Other times, I was able to comment on awards the company had won, charitable work they do, new products they were getting ready to launch and different divisions of the company. There will be a lot of information on the website, look at it all and pick two or three key things you think you will be able to naturally bring up during your interview.
- Review the job posting. Look it over before you go. Be reminded of the position you are applying for, the skills they are looking for, and how you and your experience would be an added benefit to the company.
- Prepare questions. There is always an opportunity at the end of an interview to ask questions...ASK QUESTIONS!! This shows you are interested in learning about the position and organization, and finding out if both are a good fit for you. I like to prepare four or five questions, knowing that I will only ask two or three of the questions. I always prepare more in case my questions get answered during the interview. Next week, I'll be sharing some questions to ask during an interview, so I'm not going to go into them right now.
Preparing for the interview will help you feel more confident and calm. It will help you focus and put your best foot forward. Even though interviews can be scary or intimidating, remember they saw something in you that they liked...they WANT to meet you. You are setting out to impress them, but they need to impress you too.