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Emergency Kit – phase 4

I dread interviews. I’m a shy individual, and spouting off about how wonderful I am to a complete stranger always feels like I’m boasting. I was dreading the Interview Techniques workshop as well, because I was well aware that my interview skills were not good. To my surprise though, I really enjoyed the class, and at the end I found myself doing great when answering tough interview questions. This turned out to be my favorite class. This post is a bit long, but I promise it’s some good and solid information!

The first thing that our Instructor, Anthony Ramsey, told us was:

“Your goal at any interview is to grab attention in ways that serve your needs.”

To that end, many of the most important steps in an interview take place before you ever walk through the door.

  • Make yourself  a fantastic resume, tailored to the job that you’re seeking. (see Emergency Kit – phase 1 & phase 3)
  • Look yourself up on the internet to see what it has to say about you. Google yourself. Make sure your public profiles are clean.
  • Research the company you are applying to. Look up their website, and read it.
  • Find news articles on them and read up on current developments.
  • Try looking them up on Glassdoor for insider info on them and find out what they’re like.

Your preparation isn’t done yet! After you’ve done your research, and you’ve got an interview scheduled, you need to get more specific:

  1. Jot down a few questions you’d like to ask them about the company or the working environment.
  2. Choose 5 or 6 points that you want to articulate during the interview, and make sure these are clear in your mind.

Remember, your task at the interview is convince them of why they should hire you. (Unless you dread hearing ‘overqualified’, in which case your task changes to convincing them of your interest in the job.) Never apologize for who you are. Clearly state your knowledge, skills, or personal attributes that would benefit them, and illustrate how and why they might benefit. Give examples!

Don’t say: “You should hire me because I’m adaptable and quick at learning. I also get along well with just about everyone.”

Say: “You should hire me because I’m eager to be a part of finding creative solutions in this area, in my last job I improved efficiency by 20% when I streamlined our interview processes. I also love working with teams, and I’d love to work with the fantastic group you’ve put together here.”

Remember that your process is as important as your achievements. You want to tell them not only that you got results, but what those results were and how you obtained them.

  1. The Problem was…
  2. The challenges were…
  3. The steps I took to solve the problems were…
  4. The results were…

One of the biggest obstacles to overcome in an interview is altering our perspective. Don’t think about an interview question from your own perspective. Think about it from the perspective of the person asking you the question. Know your audience.

Question: “What attracted you to this job?”

Answer: “Well you know, it’s a rough job market, and this is a job that I know I can do well at. I just need a job.”

Here’s what the interviewer is likely hearing: “I’m not really attracted to your job, and I don’t really care about your company, I just need a job.”

A much better answer: “I took a look at your website, and I really like the direction that this company is heading. I think it will grow tremendously in the next few years, and I’d love to help make that happen.”

Here’s a list of some more interview do’s and don’ts:

  • Don’t spam your resume. (Would you hire someone just because they sent you a resume every single day?)
  • Don’t dress inappropriately. (Thrift shops are your friend if you’re low on funds!)
  • Don’t arrive late, or even on-time. Be 20-30 minutes early to fill out paperwork.
  • Do turn your phone off, or leave it in the car.
  • Don’t act bored or cocky.
  • Do be alert. No yawning or falling asleep!
  • Do have good posture, and a firm (not crushing!) handshake.
  • Don’t ask about pay or salary before you have a job. (use glassdoor!)
  • Don’t interrupt the interviewer.
  • Do look the interviewer in the eye.
  • Don’t talk around the question. (Asking for repeats is okay!)
  • Do be calm. Don’t fidget and project nervous energy or hyperness.

At the end of this workshop, which was the last in a series of four Emergency Kit workshops taken over the course of two days, I did a mock panel interview in front of the entire class. Using everything that I had gleaned from two days of instruction, I not only answered every question, but I did it well. That was such a great feeling. I don’t have to dread interviews anymore – I can walk into them confident that I know how to present myself and make a good impression.

I really encourage anyone who’s frustrated with the job search right now, or feels their resume or interview skills are lacking, to sign up at Work 2 Future if you’re able to do so. It’s free, it’s what your tax dollars are paying for, and the number of resources (workshops, training, etc.) at your fingertips will greatly increase.

A big thanks to all three of our Instructors for the Emergency Kit workshops: Ivan Temes, Anthony Metten, and Anthony Ramsey. They were all fantastic, and I hope to see them all again at other workshops or networking events.

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