On Friday I had two back-to-back interviews, which basically means I’m an expert at this whole job search interview thing (jk not really at all, I have no clue what I’m doing). However, I did make some mental notes from that professional-small-talk-marathon which I am calling “Pro Tip Interview Hacks.” We all know the basics of interviewing (Have a firm handshake! Don’t forget your resume! Show up 15 minutes early!), so these are more of the little things you may not think of, but could help.
Pick an outfit that doesn’t show sweat.
Especially if you’re jam-packing interviews in, a hot car on a 90 degree day and sprinting up the stairs to the office can really get your heart-rate going. You’re already nervous and sweating, so minimize your embarrassment and pick an outfit that a) makes you feel confident and b) conceals pit stains.
Use the pre-interview forms as a confidence boost.
Usually HR or the secretary will have you fill out some basic information form (even though you already gave this information when you applied, but hey, two copies never hurt.) Again, you’re probably nervous just being in the office, so use these forms as a little confidence boost. Name? Easy, you know that! Address? No problem, you’re a rock star! Education level? Oh yea, you’re a smartie, show it off! You know for a fact that you’ll get these questions right so revel in those small victories.
Wear a watch.
Yea, this is basic tip but I totally forgot one and so those 15 minutes that I arrived early seemed to draaaagggg on until I thought the interviewer was late and I was going to miss my next interview. (He wasn’t, I just had no sense of time). This all added to my anxiety which I could have avoided if I had just wore a watch.
Make friends with the receptionist.
Their job is to be nice to you. Literally, that is their job. So make the most of it. For me, making casual conversation calms me down and makes me forget about why I’m actually in an office waiting room. Plus it’s a nice little warm-up to all the small-talking you’ll be doing once you get into the interview. (And it beats uncomfortably staring at your resume wondering if you should have used Arial font instead of Times New Roman, not knowing what time it is and sweating profusely.)
Ladies: Ditch the clutch.
Yes, I know the clutch is chic and cute and screams “I’m a sophisticated professional, ready to be hired!” but it’s really cumbersome. And then you’re caught in this awkward position of having clutch under one arm, holding resumes, and then needing to shake someone’s hand. You will use the clutch another time. Stick with a small cross-body bag.
Fellas: Ditch the bling.
I wish this were just an obvious point, but one gentleman literally walked into the waiting room wearing a silver chain. Over his tie. I get it, you want to show your personality, but just don’t.
Don’t underestimate the importance of playing sports.
BOTH interviews asked me if I played sports in high school. Forget leadership roles and service projects! They want to know if you have good sportsmanship and team values. (And yes, I’m assuming intramurals fall under this category.)
There’s a chance the position you’re interviewing for is not the one you applied for…
Gotta love that awkward moment when the interviewer is describing the position, and it’s NOTHING like the position you actually applied for (& wanted). Especially you comm. people… when a website says “PR Assistant” what they really mean is “Entry Sales Position/Telemarketer for Verizon Fios.” Do your research before applying. There’s a chance they don’t even have a PR department.
Honestly, being nice goes a long way.
All in all, both interviews were dead-ends for me because they weren’t what I was looking for (which is okay). But both interviewers offered me a second interview even though I didn’t have any experience they were looking for. And honestly, I chalk it up to me being nice. Make good eye contact. Smile. Be enthusiastic about whatever you’re talking about, even if you’re pitching yourself as a great writer/editor and they really want someone who knows about accounting. It might be enough for them to see something in you to pass you on to the next round, regardless if you’re qualified or not.
Job searching is hard & I’m sure I’ll be writing about it again. In the meantime, I hope your resume tweaking isn’t tedious, your hours on LinkedIn aren’t heinous & you remember to breathe because in reality, an interview is only a small percentage of your day; don’t let it consume you.