Today I wanted to write a little about what I do for a living. As some of you may know, I am a blogger by morning, a recruiter by day, and barre instructor by night. Every day from 9-5 I am on the phone, almost all day long, talking to people about their next career opportunity. I am interviewing them for positions I am working to fill, and helping them prep for interviews that they are going on.
I am interviewing hiring managers to make sure I understand what they are looking for in a candidate for their open position. I am interviewing candidates to see if they could be a good fit for the jobs, at the same time my candidates and clients are interviewing each other.
Lots of interviewing going on here!!
Since I have been completely surrounded by interviews and interview prep for the past 4 years, I have learned a lot from it.
On top of that, prior to my recruiting career, I even helped young women prep for their personal interview for the Miss Connecticut pageant. Through it all, I have picked up on some essential interviewing skills that I would love to share with you to help with your next interview!
Before you apply anywhere or even start looking, take a minute to stop and think about what you would really like to do in your next career step. Be intentional and get clear on what you want. Brainstorm ideas and then write out the parts of your job you really like, the parts you don’t like and different jobs you think you would really be interested in. After that, write down some long term goals that you have in your life in general. What are some of the major goals you have for the year to come? What goals do you have professionally and personally in the next 3-5 years?
I added this in because a hiring authority recently said to me that they want to make sure they know the ultimate long term goals of the people they hire. That way they could try to help the hire get to those ultimate goals while they work there.
For starters, YES!!, there are companies out there that care this much about their employees and it’s freaking awesome. Secondly, this shows us that hiring authorities care about what your goals are, beyond even just acknowledging that they have goals. Having goals, dreams or even a general idea of where we want to head is very appealing to hiring authorities because it shows that you care and you’re serious. Caring about your future is important. Plus its exciting and fun!
Start by thinking about what you want, then why you want it and why you are interviewing. Even if you weren’t consciously looking for a new job and the opportunity has presented itself to you, take the time to reflect on these things. After you learn more about the opportunity, figure out why or how that could be interesting for you and how it fits into the overall plan.
Now, back to the top, tips for when you are interviewing for a potential job!
Always Look the Part
For starters, you want to always look the part. I love the saying, “dress for the job you want, and not for the job you have”. Unless, of course, your ideal job is to be a yoga teacher or chef, and you are interviewing for a corporate job. I wouldn’t wear yoga pants or chef scrubs, but I would advise you to start by asking yourself why you are interviewing for that job in the first place…
Regardless, I think this part is important and it’s simple. Wear a nice outfit, preferably business casual, that is clean and well fitted. You don’t want to wear something that is super old and baggy, nor do you want to wear something skin tight. Think of Goldilocks and the three bears, you want something that fits just right.
Then, make sure you are physically clean, smell nice, and your clothes are ironed or steamed. I know these sound so basic and ludicrous that I am even including this as a tip, but I can’t count how many times I have said this to people and they still show up wrinkle, dis-shelved and looking like they don’t care. The last thing you want is for them to think that you don’t care about the interview. Even if you’re not sure if you want the job, it’s important to be respectful and show up the best version of yourself, and that includes your cleaniest ironest version. 😉
Do Your Research
Piggybacking off of the respectful part, it’s really important to do your research before an interview. This is true for any and all types of interviews. This is always my second piece of advice whether you are interviewing for a pageant or at a Fortune 500 company. You want to know what the company does/produces, who are their competitors, what the role you’re interviewing for is, what that role entails, the background of the organization, and where they are in their evolution today.
The ultimate goal of any interview is to demonstrate to the person interviewing you why you are a good fit for the role or why they should be hiring you. Doing your research on the company or organization gives you a better understanding of what you are walking into. Then, you are naturally able to connect the dots for them on why you could be a good fit for the position.
How do you do this?
Google. =] I love google if you guys can’t tell. Google the company and spend some time on their website. Go on LinkedIn and look at the people who are already working at the company to see what kind of backgrounds they come from and what gaps you are seeing in their org structure.
Remember, you do not have to know EVERYTHING about the company. You don’t need to memorize anything, just have a better general understanding of what you are walking into so you are prepared to show up as the best version of yourself. Be prepared and ready for most of the questions they ask.
Be Prepared with Questions
When applying for any major job, you always want to be ready with your own questions. A lot of times people forget this part when preparing for an interview. They are just focused on answering the questions correctly, when in fact you are / should be interviewing them almost as much as they are interviewing you.
While you are doing your research about the company and the position, write any and all questions that come to your mind. Then, think about your long term and short term goals, and write down any questions you have about that and how you stay on track with those while in that role.
Write down any questions you need to have answered to get a better understanding of whether this is an opportunity that will be good for your next step or not.
Your career matters and your next career step should be one that is in line with your ultimate goals.
Whenever I would prep women for their interviews in the pageant system, I would always tell them, “People remember how you made them feel more than what you said”.
Think about an interview you were recently on or even a date or a hang out with friends. Do you remember exactly what you talked about? My guess is no, or at least not 100% of it. That’s the exact same way with an interview. People remember how you made them feel and not what you said.
The best way for people to remember you and how you made them feel is to be your authentic self. When I competed in the Miss America pageant, this is one piece of advice I got over and over again. Then, when I became a recruiter and started talking to different people all day every day, I could tell when people were comfortable in their own skin versus when they were putting on a show. Now, this doesn’t mean one way or personality is better than another, we all have something unique and special to bring to the table at any company we start with.
What I am saying is, hold your head high and be confident in yourself and what you have to offer. People will remember that and be attracted to that confidence!
In summary, if I were to narrow it down to the four most important pieces of advice for anyone interviewing it would be to 1. Look the Part, 2. Do Your Research, 3. Prepare Questions, 4. Be Authentic.
Again, these steps sound so simple, and in truth, they are really simple. But, if you follow them, then you know going into the interview that you put your best foot forward and did the best that you could for that interview. That’s all you can ask for. No one ever has a crystal ball to predict, say or control how you can ultimately get the job. What you can control is how you show up and how you present yourself. Put your best self forward, and you will always do well. =]