Interviewing for a position is always nerve wracking! There’s so much at stake from a great position to money you desperately need. There are hundreds of thousands of websites that will give you millions of pieces of advice on how to interview well. Some of the work, and some don’t and you never know until you try them.
Yesterday, I went in to an interview to be an event manager for the local TEDx event. I can’t tell you how nervous I was! This job is everything I love and am passionate about and there are only two positions to fill, so the stakes were high. After ten minutes of talking, I was offered the position! Yay! So to celebrate, I’m going to share with you the 5 tricks I use to get my dream job.
1. Dress Like You Care
The first thing an interviewing is going to notice about you is how you’re dressed, so it’s vital that you dress to show how you feel. If you’re wearing jeans and a t-shirt, you either know the person already and the interview is for the sake of formalities or you don’t care as much. But if you’re dressed in a suit and tie or a pant’s suit or dress/skirt, it shows that you’re not only professional, but you care.
But let it be noted you shouldn’t dress the same for every interview. If you’re going to interview to be a ranch hand (or other forms of manual labor), you may give the wrong impression by wearing a formal suit. Instead, try a semi-formal outfit. Something like a nice top and either khakis or a very nice pair of jeans.
2. Be a Few Minutes Early
I try to arrive at interviews 10 minutes early, but wait in my car for about 5 minutes before entering the building. Why? Because sitting in the office lobby for 10 minutes is a long time and puts unneeded pressure on your interviewer to hurry up and get to you. I wait for 5 minutes so that I have 5 minutes to find the office, check in with the receptionist and maybe wait for 1-2 minutes. It’s low pressure for everyone and you still arrive on time, and even a little early.
3. If You Have to Wait, Don’t Use Your Phone
There are a number of reasons to not use your phone. The first is because you seem unfocused. Imagine if you’re an interviewer and the person you’re about to consider hiring is playing a game or scrolling through social media?
The second is because it effects your posture, which in turn effects your confidence. This principle of high power and low power poses was researched and coined by Amy Cuddy. You can learn more by watching her TED Talk here.
Third, this is a great opportunity for you to observe. Is the office dirty and unkept? Is the paint chipping or faded? Does the receptionist seem stressed? Can you hear anything from the surrounding offices or is it silent? When the interviewer arrives, is s/he seem in a hurry? How do employees interact with each other? These few minutes of observation can give you great insights into how the company functions and can give you a good conversation starter with your interviewer. For example, “I noticed your receptionist had a lot of phone calls coming in. Is it a busy day?”
4. Give a Strong Hand Shake and Eye Contact
When you first meet your interviewer, don’t be afraid to address them. If you know their name, say something like, “Hi Mr. Good, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you”.
When you shake hands, it’s important to be strong. A strong handshake shows your confident and capable. Holding eye contact the entire time also shows you’re engaged and ready to connect.
5. Be You. Be Straightforward. Be Friendly.
I think the most underappreciated tip for interviewing is just being yourself. In American culture, there seems to be this expectation that you have to be more than just yourself. So most people put on a face, stay rigidly professional and evidently, unmemorable. Don’t forget that companies hire people. Interviewers are trying to get a sense of you as a person, not just your experience. So be you. Tell jokes if that’s who you are. Don’t be afraid to show your quirks.
Be straightforward and honest about yourself and your situations. Let them get a look at your personality and your situation. For example, yesterday, when my now employer asked me “Tell me about yourself” I said, “I’m junior at the local college studying Organizational Communications and Advocacy, and I really want to work for a non-profit doing event management and social media. So this job is everything I’m passionate about and what I’m looking for. I currently am running a TED like event on campus called iTalk. As far as a person, I’m an introvert, but I’m an introvert that likes to be in charge. I like to be busy. And you should be aware that I’m going to be gone for 7 weeks this summer for another job in California, so I can work remotely, but I won’t be able to be in the office until September.” In the first few moments of speaking, I laid all my cards on the table. Now this is a bit of a risky move, but by doing this, you show your employer that you’re genuine, you’re straightforward, and you’re willing to work with them.
Be friendly! Smile, joke, laugh, ask about them and what they do. Don’t be afraid to make small talk with them.
I can’t promise that these tips will guarantee you the job, but these steps have helped me land over eight jobs in the last 5 years.
What are you tips for interviewing? Do you already do these? Did I forget anything important? Let me know in the comments below!