I’ve had quite a few good friends going for job interviews lately, and at my own workplace, there are loads of interviews going on and a buzz around the office.
In fact, I had dinner at a friends house last week as a prep sesh the day before her interview. My prep on her behalf was abnormally enthusiastic. I had a printed template of common job interview questions, a background briefing on the role and the project she would be heading up and some suggested responses based on her point of difference and why she should get the role – which she should, by the way, she’s the shiz*.
Whilst she was appreciative, I believe her exact words were “nerd alert”.
So, even thought this post is not directly related to health, job security is definitely an aspect of well-being. From being interviewed, being on the panel, taking a nerdish interest in what Human Resource and Management colleagues look for in interviews, here is a list of what to do’s, from my humble non-HR perspective.
1) Always, always be yourself
This advice comes from my mate Jen. She’s a groovy clever lady I look up to professionally and personally. She has worked previously as a Human Resources Manager, Communications Manager and CEO and is the current State Director for a major political party. Her advice is this:
Be true to yourself. Don’t pretend to be what you are not, be who you are and speak from that place.
This advice is golden.
You’ve already proved you’re capable of the role by getting to interview stage. Your CV and application passed the first test. Now they want to get to know you. Are you a good fit for the organisation, the job, the team, their culture? Or are you a total psycho who is unable to talk to anything other than plants? Be yourself, let them get to know you a bit better.
If you are relaxed and genuine, it will show. If you’re over confident and talk yourself up, they will notice that too. Try not to be too formal. Remember, they are human too.
2) Keep some perspective….Calm. The. Farm.
No offence, but you’re not the biggest deal in the interviewers day that day, so try to remain calm and enjoy the experience. Be prepared as best you can then try your best to relax. The interviewer won’t always have the questions before the interview. Sometimes, someone is pulled in last minute to sit on the panel.
If they are hiring new staff it’s because somebody left or the organisation is growing. The job interview is one of many competing priorities that day in their work day. So leave a lasting impression. You got this.
3) How to answer the “do you have experience in…..(insert something you have no experience in)
Here they want to see that you value yourself and you are confident enough with knowing what you don’t know. Be the kind of person who hits the ground running. They want to know you are a self starter and and can solve problems rather than coming to your manager every single time you don’t know how to do something.
There is nothing worse than asking a person in the interview if they have experience in a particular system or process and for them to turn around and say, “no I don’t, will that be a problem”? It will if you make it one.
A great answer goes something along the lines of …“not in that particular database, but in every position I’ve had, I’ve worked with numerous different databases at once, and learn quickly on the job. I’m tech savvy and self-motivated. If you give me a day, I can source the manual or find out and learn the system…”
4) Rehearse your answers to common questions out loud
This is what my mate from last week really noticed in the actual interview. You can have all the answers in the world rehearsed in your head, but it’s a totally different ball game when you have to say it out loud. Practice in front of a mirror (weirdo), or rehearse with a friend.
It will be the difference between a mediocre answer and a “nailed it” response. If you don’t have an answer, google suggested ones and then go back and think about your own experience. There will be an example, think….I’m sending you vibes through cyberspace to help you remember. I also personally think a bit of creative licence never hurt anyone, so long as it’s not completely made up.
Read more about common questions and good answers here:
5) Be a STAR
If you haven’t heard of STAR, get onto that immediately, if not before. It’s a must.
In fact, often the templates the panellists get from HR have the STAR acronym under the question to prompt the interviewer to record if the job applicant has answered the question in this way.
6) Don’t be Donny Desperado
Value yourself. You don’t need this job (even if you do), they would be lucky to have you. Always be prepared to answer “why do you want this job/tell me about your skills/interest in this position”. It’s usually the lead in question.
Be genuinely interested.
People can tell if the sole reason you went for the job is you can’t stand your horrible boss or current role, you’re “between jobs” or you just got out of a terrible break up and your desperate to high tail it out of the city/state/country.
Find out as much as you can about the role and the organisation. Look up their website. Get really familiar with the role. If you know someone who works there or works in a similar role, drill them for intel.
7) Never underestimate your skills and experience
Again, my mate sometimes got stuck coming up with examples in our prep sesh, even though she had legitimate experience and skills in all.
You don’t have to have invented the i-phone (thanks Steve) to be worthy of giving an example of when you have demonstrated innovation in the workplace. We all do some pretty impressive, job interview worthy stuff in our day to day jobs that we forget because it’s so second nature.
Spend time thinking about this one. If you need to, have a document you add to frequently when you upskill at work, do a new course or make a process improvement suggestion at work. It’s too easy to forget!
8) Don’t be afraid to call it out if you haven’t understood the question
This is far better than going off an a tangent. It demonstrates you are willing to speak up when you don’t have all the answers and you have the smarts to clarify things before spending a lot of valuable work time doing work that was not asked of you or is not what your manager was after.
You can ask them to repeat the question, say you haven’t quite understood or ask them to give an example of what they mean.
9) It’s Ok to be a bit nervous
In some circles, it’s actually endearing. It shows that you’re human, and that you might actually really want the job.
Unless you’re going for the role of head brain surgeon, it’s OK to show a bit of nerves.
10) Chalk it up
It’s all learning. The best was to get good at job interviews is to attend them. Even if you don’t get the job, you haven’t lost out. You’ve just added one more notch to your belt.
If there was an absolute train wreck of an answer to a question you weren’t expecting, that, my friend, is where you will get the biggest learning and improvement in your job interviewing skills….talking of….
*My friend got the job by the way. Partial credit to our prep sesh and this hilarious advice courtesy of her boyfriend: