So. You spent the last month looking at job posts, tailoring resumes and cover letters, and networking. Finally you got an interiew that you are really excited about. Then it hits. What if I screw up?
As you probably have noticed, a common theme on this blog is preparation. Preparation is one factor of job search that you are in complete and total control of. See my posts about the elevator pitch, small talk, salary negotation and answering tough questions for some ideas. And of course stay tuned for future posts as there will certainly be more.
Back to what I was saying...
The employer read through your resume, compared it to possibly hundreds of others, and felt confident enough about your potential that they want to speak with you in person. Now the most important job you have is to convince them that they are correct in their assessment. And that should be the easy part. Getting an interview is the toughest part.
The approach to take is to show the hiring manager that you are 1) smart, 2) willing to do the work, and 3) have a great personality. One out of three is not going to cut it. Even two out of three isn't good enough. If I hire someone based upon personality and attitude alone, it would be a disaster (you can't fix stupid!) Or I could hire a brilliant mind with a crappy personality, but that would be equally awful. I want a smart staff member who will be fun to work with and be motivated to work with the team, helpful, and able to do the job. We spend more waking hours with the people that we work with than anyone else in our lives. We have to be able to live with these people, and even better, enjoy them.
How do you prove your smarts? Your education and accomplishments can do a lot of that. Being articulate, having prepared, and showing you can think on your feet when answering tough questions, will also demonstrate your intelligence and aptitude. The best way to come across smart is to prepare as much as you can. Practice mock interviews (contact us!) so you don't feel too nervous. Being nervous can make you look stiff, or timid. It can also cause you to stammer or hesitate which can be misconstrued as being inarticulate.
How do you prove to be a good fit for the team? One way is to talk to people you may already know at the company, or perhaps tap into your LinkedIn network, to find out about the corporate culture and the team you are applying to be a part of. The HR website may also have some information about these things, but talking to people is always better. Once you gather this information, you can tailor your interview and communication style to match.
How about your personality? Well, you are kind of on your own there. But if you have been told to 'smile more' or asked what is wrong when nothing is wrong, you may want to really pay attention to your non-verbals. The people you meet WILL be judging you - that is what a job interview is all about, right? Still, even this part is in your control!
Go in there and kick some butt.