Jen’s Job Hunt: Part III – Acing the Interview

How to Ace the Interview

Hi babes!

So, after reading your resume about 26 times and nervously holding off on pressing send, you finally do it. You got the interview. Now you’re probably wondering about things like, what do I say? What will I wear? Will they like me? Omg, what if they hate my personality?

Take a deep breath and repeat after me, “I AM THE FUCKING SHIT. I AM THE BEST. I AM GOING TO MAKE THIS INTERVIEW MY BITCH.”

Repeat that about 20 times. Do a yoga flow. Now you’re ready to prepare for your interview and impress the hell out of your future boss(es).

Also, because this is crazy long, here’s a table of contents for your convenience. Just Control+F 😉

Table of Contents

What you need to understand (about the interview process)

Dress Code
The First Interview
Do Your Research
The Questions They Will Ask You
Round Two
Tips
– If Your First Interview is Over the Phone
– Body Language
– Believe in Yourself
– Be Thankful
– If You Didn’t Get the Interview
– TheBalance.com

What You Need to Understand

The interview process is very much like dating. I know I said in Part II that corresponding with your future employer shouldn’t be a waiting game. What I’m referring to in this part, is that the job interview process is just as much about you liking them, as it is about them liking you. It has to be a mutual fit, or you’re going to be in for a rough ride.

During the interview, you need to be asking questions about your future tasks, company culture and anything else that you can’t find online. For example, when I applied to marketing jobs, I started asking about door-to-door sales because I heard that some marketing positions can be scams. Lo-and-behold, some companies meekly responded yes. I knew I would hate that task, so I knew what companies to cross off my list.

Don’t overtake the conversation, but ask enough questions to get a gauge of what it would be like working at the company. A lot of us forget about our own needs during the job hunt. It’s hard when you’re constantly hearing about unemployment and how millennials are struggling to earn a living. Even though these are valid concerns, always put your well-being first. Coming home after a terrible day at work EVERY DAY of your life is going to wear away at your psyche and cause a lot of pain. Love yourself enough to know that you are amazing and that you can find a job you love. If you don’t have the skillset to achieve your goals yet, then work on them! Make your side hustle into a lifestyle. The thing a lot of us forget is that this process takes time.

Dress Code

Your outfit should be a delicate balance of you and the company. Choose silhouettes and colors that represent you and dress like you already work there. If you’re showing up to a fashion PR job, show off your styling skills with an on-trend outfit in fabrics and cuts that you love. If you’re applying to a law firm, the standard blazer and slacks in a sharp cut will do.

Always dress for the job. When applying to my current PR job, I was worried about whether I had to wear a blazer or not. Coming from a corporate law firm, it was part of the dress code. After the first interview and seeing how my future superior was dressed, I knew it would be appropriate to show up to the second interview in dress pants and a button-down with no blazer. When in doubt, overdress.

Another no-brainer, but a point stressed by my old boss was to never dress provocatively. She had issues in the past where women would “dress to impress” the male interviewers. This always backfired because SHE was the one who made the final hiring decision. Don’t sell yourself short by using your physical attributes over your intellect.

The First Interview

Ok, cool. Now you’ve got your interview outfit and you’re feeling good about yourself. It’s time to tackle the first round of interview questions. A lot of the questions are designed to see how much you know about the company and how well you respond to questions under pressure. A lack of company knowledge shows that you aren’t dying to work there and they want to weed those people out ASAP.

Do your research

Google the company. Google their clients. Google the industry. Google like you’re about to take the biggest exam of your life and your professor told you that you have one hour to put everything onto an index card to use during the test.

After you’ve happily googled every last detail about the company, go to Quizlet.com and quiz yourself. Knowing the values and tasks of the job you’re applying to are most important. Nail those first.

The Questions They Will Ask You

~ “So, what’s your greatest weakness?”…Uhm, I have none? ~

I know, I know. Literally the most awk question on the face of this planet. But hey! Here’s your chance to twist this awful question into promoting yourself. If you’re going to ace an interview, you’re going to have to be comfortable with shameless self-promotion.

Use this opportunity to highlight your strengths. I’ve used the answer, “My greatest weakness is being a perfectionist. I used to never be satisfied with my work, but now I have a system that checks my work so that I am more confident in submitting it”. Like OMG, sometimes I just try too hard, ya know? Say something that can be quickly turned into a positive. Here, I showed the interviewer how I fixed my “weakness”.

~ “What’s your greatest strength?”…I can make a mean veggie sandwich? ~

Another twisty question. Too cocky and you come off as conceited, too humble and you come off as doubtful. Your job is to find an answer that fits right into the middle. I would answer, “My greatest strength is my ability to learn”. I mean come on, who doesn’t like that answer? It shows your future employer that no matter what you lack, you are one docile student who is willing to learn.

All other questions will be based on information about the company and yourself. This may sound weird but study your resume. In the moment, everything you think you might know about yourself can come out as a garbled mess. By studying your resume, alongside information about the company, you’ll be ready to answer questions like

  • Why work for this company?
  • What do you know about us?
  • Why are you a good fit for this position?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Why did you apply to this job?
  • What can you contribute to this job?

As you can see, a lot of the questions contain similar answers. Study your potential questions beforehand and write down some possible answers. What you say in the interview may not be verbatim, but at least you’re not blindsided.

Round Two

Congrats on completing the first interview! Now go pour yourself a glass of pinot and start preparing for Round Two. This round will go more in-depth about how your skillset applies to the job.

Now is a good time to relate your skills to the position. If you have experience with Adobe Creative Suites and you’re applying to a PR company, explain how you can use your skills to create communication graphics for the clients. Every interviewee is going to come in with top-notch skills, that’s how they got the interview in the first place. Set yourself apart by painting a vivid picture of how you can positively contribute to the company.

Be sure to inquire about the pay and benefits in this round. Ask about how a day of work is structure and who you will be working under. Don’t ask questions you should know the answers to like who the clients are and what the general tasks you will be doing. If you’re going into PR, don’t ask dumb shit like, “Am I going to be writing press releases?”.

If you have material that shows off your skills, then bring it. A portfolio can further build the picture of how fitting you are for the position. Stellar group projects and personal accomplishments are acceptable. Make sure they are recent and applicable. Winning your 5th-grade science fair is a moot point. A client proposal you made for a class senior year is perfectly acceptable.

Tips

If Your First Interview is Over the Phone

Sticky Notes for Phone Interview - How to Ace the Interview

  • Sticky notes will be your best friend. Write out potential questions with some answers so you can answer in a fluid and knowledgeable way. Stick them right in front of you for easy viewing.
  • Make sure you’ve arranged to somewhere quiet to have the interview. Nothing screams that you were unprepared quite like answering the phone mid-workout or out on a noisy street.
  • The tone of your voice is super important in an interview. Sound excited! Employers are looking for people with a passion to work with them. Don’t sound monotone or dry. Express as much of your best self as you can through the phone.

Body Language

  • With tons of videos to study on the internet, you should have a pretty good idea of how impactful body language can be. Sit up straight, don’t fidget and make eye-contact with everyone in the room. If there are multiple interviewers and only one is talking to you, be sure to make eye contact with everyone while you are answering. This is a tactic interviewers use to see how you behave in a group setting. Can’t take you anywhere if you’re a fidgety slouch.
  • Be firm in the handshake, but don’t try to break their hand. Practice with a friend. Don’t break your friend’s hand. 🙂

Believe in Yourself

  • If you know you meet all the requirements, then know you should get the job. It’s all a mental game. If you show up well-dressed, neatly groomed and answer questions with glowing confidence, you should get the job. And if you don’t? It wasn’t your tribe. Anyone who has gone through sorority rush knows this feeling. Sometimes through rush, you pine for that one house and on bid day you get something else. One year later, you couldn’t imagine yourself anywhere else. Everything happens for a reason and trust that if you put your best foot forward and don’t get it, it wasn’t meant to be and there is better on the horizon.

Be Thankful

  • Be sure to always say thank you. First, in person and then after the interview. Be grateful that you were given the opportunity to speak with the interviewer. Send them a thank you email. DO NOT FORGET. I, unfortunately, have forgotten and sent one the next day. Technically, it had been less than 24 hours, but the sentiment was gone and I never heard from that company again.

If you didn’t get the interview

  • Ask for an informational interview! I had no idea these even existed until an old friend told me about it. It was how she got her job! It shows initiative and lets you communicate aspects of yourself you couldn’t have in the resume and cover letter. Not all companies will give you the time of day, but it’s worth a shot.

TheBalance.com

  • When I didn’t know where else to turn, I went to this website for answers. They helped me out with everything from interview questions to how to negotiate my salary. Extremely informative and easy to read.

WOW

God bless you for making it all the way to the end! Hopefully, by now, you feel confident about your upcoming interview and have enough information to KILL IT! Remember that you are the fucking shit and nobody can tell you otherwise. Good luck my friend!

P.S. ICYMI, here’s Part I: Resume & Cover Letter and Part II: Searching & Applying.

 

How to Ace the Interview

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