If you’re like me starting out, interviews were kind of a “wing it” event. You didn’t know what to do or how to prepare. I had to learn from experience. I have been the recipient of 7 different internships, selected as an ambassador for World Vision International, the foreman for a local junior jury, received two scholarships to attend a young leaders program in Santa Barbara, and was recently selected to be a crew representative for a boutique in Florida (more on that to come!) Needless to say, I have been through a lot of interviews! I want to share with you real information and tips on how to win big in your next interview.
The first thing I learned was that if you’re interview is over the phone (which many of mine have been) it is crucial that you maintain a positive voice and don’t make comments that could possibly be taken the wrong way. The interviewer can’t see your face and therefore cannot tell how you feel or whether something you say is meant to be taken as humor or not. In other words, don’t try to be funny. Be pleasurable and personable, but don’t try to be funny, because you never are when you have to try.
The next thing I learned is to be prepared for the unexpected. Do you know how many questions I’ve been asked that I did not have a prepared answer for? Too many to count. I’ve been asked things such as “What United Stated economic policy was, in your opinion, the least effective?” My first thought was “Uh, what? Come on, who asks this stuff?” Well, because it was a think tank in Washington, D.C. they will always have questions to throw at you that weren’t expected. If you are interviewing for a position that you feel unsure of, then have someone else pretend to interview you and ask questions you aren’t prepared for.
A third thing I have come to expect is to be asked what my weaknesses are. For heaven’s sake if it’s punctuality don’t say that! I’ve learned that the safest answers are either worrying, perfectionism, or impatience.
Something else I have picked up on in the corporate world is that companies are putting new emphasis on team work and group cohesion. Group activities such as bowling or a cook out are becoming a very important part of building a team-centered atmosphere. If you’re hoping to get a new job, expect this to be part of the company culture and say so in your interview. Employers want to hear that you like working in teams but can also work alone. Both are important.
In your first interview, I do not advise that you talk salary or benefits unless they bring it up. Most companies will set up a series of interviews with you and the first one is typically where you go through your resume and explain everything in detail (make sure to have your resume with you) and they get to know you as a person. After that, the questions get much more specific. The second or third interview is when you might start talking about salary. Be sure not to make that your very first question.
Here’s my final piece of advice- ask questions! At the end of every interview an employer will ask if you have any questions for them. You better have some! This shows you are interested in their company and not just getting the job. Some of my favorites to ask are:
1. What’s a typical day like in the office?
2. What do you like most about working for the company?
3. Is the company active in the community (i.e. do they support any charities, do volunteer work etc.)?
You want them to think you’re interested in what your life will be like if you worked for them. It also shows that you have actually thought through why you would like to work for the company.
Go forward with all the confidence in the world! You can do this! As the saying goes, “Hold your head high gorgeous, there are people that would kill to see you fall.”
P.S. Wondering what to wear for an interview or even to work? Check out this helpful post!