So here I am today with the second post in a three-post series: Tips for Getting and Nailing an Interview! I talked all about crafting a cover letter that will stand out to a hiring manager in the last post. I can't believe how requested this post was, so I'm excited to bring it to you all today!
As I mentioned in the last post, I'm not an expert, and there are plenty of people who may disagree with me, and that is ok! In fact, if you disagree with anything I'm about to discuss, feel free to let us all know by leaving a comment. The more informed we all are, with many different perspectives, the more successful we will be.
But what I do know is what has worked for me in the past. I also know what a hiring manager is looking for, because I was one for a few years! Now lets talk about resumes and interviews!
First: Let's talk RESUMES!
This will be quick since I personally think most people are pretty informed on resume building. I really want to focus the majority of this post on interview tips.
Tip 1: Build a resume that looks the part
I do graphic design and advertising, so when I was looking for work, my resume looked like a graphic designer's resume; bright, bold colors and visually eye catching. I can get away with a fun, upbeat resume. If you are applying with a law firm, you can't. You would need to be clean and sleek and elegantly simple with your resume. Your resume should not only showcase a list of your talents, but should reflect your desired position.
Tip 2: Have two different resumes.
Not every job I applied for when I was job searching was for graphic design. So I had a simple, plain resume to use for more straight-laced positions I was applying.
Tip 3: Always (always always always always) keep it one page
Next: Interview Tips
Tip 1: Have a Proper Handshake
I have certain things I look for in a candidate and if I don't find those things, I will tune out the rest of the interview. The biggest and most important, that sets the tone of the whole interview, is the handshake...
Handshakes 101: If you don't shake my hand correctly, we are done. This goes to men and women. Just because I am a woman, doesn't mean guys should curtsy instead of shake my hand properly. I promise, it won't break into a billion pieces.
I don't want to see the following: using the tips of your fingers to squeeze the tips of my fingers, don't offer me a "pound-it!", don't shake with the LEFT hand, don't just place your hand in mine and not squeeze.
I assure you I am not the only one who thinks this way. Give a proper, full handshake with a hearty squeeze. If you don't, you WILL NOT get the job, I can guarantee that. GUARANTEE!
Tip 2: Tell a Story
When presented with a question, you should always try and answer that question with a story. For example, say the interviewer asked, "How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?" Respond with an actual time you had an angry customer, and you made the situation right for them.
What I like to do is take every question the interviewer asks, and place the phrase, "Tell me a time when..." right before the question, so I consciously remember to tell that story.
Tip 3: Ask the interviewer questions (they will love it.)
Come prepared with some questions for your interviewer. For example, at the end of the interview, the interviewer always will ask you if you have any questions.
"Um, I don't think so!" Well, that's all well and good, but what if instead you had a few questions prepared regarding the available position or the company culture.
Maybe ask, "What is the top priority for the person in this position?" Or, "What qualities does it take for a person to be successful in this company?"
Make sure your questions are intelligent and thoughtful. DO NOT ASK about how soon you can take off for vacation time, for example.
Tip 4: Know the company you are interviewing with
You've got to do your research. Maybe this was wrong of me, but I would sometimes simply ask, "Tell me what you know about our company?" The answers I received from this question really told me who took the time to research our company, and who didn't.
Don't just research the company, research the whole industry. Find out who their competitors are, find out what their competitors are doing well, and what their competitors are falling short on. The more you know about the company for which you are interviewing, the better you can answer the interviewer's questions, and the better you can ask informed questions at the end of the interview.