Thursday, November 8, 2012

Things You Actually Want to Know for Successful Interviews

So, I don't know if it's because my mom was HR or what, but I typically am awesome at interviews. Which is weird for me, because I'm awkward and say "like" a lot if I'm not careful. Of course, there's the basics for having a great interview (dress up, bring a copy of your resume, etc), but here are some things I've learned over the course of interviews that I wished someone told me.

1. Wear Your Second Favorite Shirt (heels, pants, whatever it may be)
Going into an interview, I'm already a little nervous and unsure (about the people, the business) so I spend a long time deciding what to wear. I wear black, but try to add color (no sparkles, please) that way I can appear professional yet also not look like I'm going to a funeral. Being female, I debate for a long time over dress vs. skirt vs. pants. But overall, the best thing you can do when deciding what to wear is find something you love, because feeling good will make you more confident. I say "second fav" because if it does end up not going your way, you won't want your favorite item tarnished by a bad interview.Trust me.

What I choose for my interview today: (I went for flats because I wanted an "easy-going" look to balance my all dark bottom half.)

2. Start with a Shake, End with a Shake
(I'm not talking about dancing.) This one is actually hard for me, not because I forget, but because I have sweaty hand-syndrome. I have to make a conscious effort to keep my right hand open for more air flow so that it isn't wet by the time my interviewer shows up. During the interview, I also try to keep that hand open (thank God when there's a table between you and your interviewer) so that afterward I haven't suddenly gone slimy.

3. Don't Get Stuck Nodding
A lot of times, most of the interview will be less you answering their questions and more them telling you about their business. (P.S. You should already know most of what they're telling you. Before an interview I spend maybe an hour all over their website as well as googling any extra info I can find.) I never know what my face looks like during these shpeals, but I try to keep a small smile on my face, as well as nod every know and then. When you feel like they think you might be dazing off or your smile might be getting maniacal, I like to let them know I'm right on track with them. I tend to say, "Right" and always, always give a small chuckle as if I lived their same life (the one as to say "Oh, gosh, I know what you mean") when appropriate.

4. When You're Interested, Let Them Know
You have to be careful not to interrupt, but a lot of time there's moments when you're supposed to jump in. If something in particular interests you, don't let them pass over the topic. If you expand or contribute (even ask questions), it shows them you're interested not only in whatever it is you're talking about, but you're interested in the business. It also helps if you can somehow bring something from your experience that's relevant to why/how you're interested in the current topic. (For instance: "Oh, yes, I agree. While working at ___, I really wanted to do more ___, and I'm glad to see I'll get the opportunity here." Also, do not memorize this quote because you might sound too robotic and you should be flexible to the tone of the interview.)

5. Get Them to Laugh
This might be my secret weapon. First, it is dire that you know I'm not talking about a practiced joke (or pun). Please, don't do it. I'm talking about finding a place in the conversation where you can bond over common (whatever) and share a casual laugh. Don't go in with a stand-up routine, just gradually get a feel for the interviewer and when you see a smile, go for the laugh. It's hard to explain, but this works for me. I like figuring out people's sense of humor, and it not only makes for a good connection, but it helps me relax a whole lot more.

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