How To Interview Well: Tips & Tricks For The Perfect Interview

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I was always a terrible test-taker and on top of that, I’m terrible at interviewing. I just don’t have a gregarious personality. I’m introverted, I don’t smile enough but I know my stuff. Apparently, knowing my stuff doesn’t come across in my interviews if I’m not outgoing.

Personally, I feel like the interviews process is such a terrible way to hire people. There’s so much emphasis placed on interviews over resumes. How much can you really know about someone after 10 to 30 minutes of talking to them? Often times the smooth talkers and the more extroverted interviewees get preference just because they interview well. For me, I’ve gone as far as avoiding changing toxic jobs just because I don’t want to go through the interview process. It’s a nightmare. As I’m sure it is for a lot of people. But over the years I’ve gotten better. I’ve come to terms that it’s a necessary part of life like driving or Christmas with the in-laws, might as well get good at it.

Here Are The Things That I’ve Learned Along The Way:

1) Research The Company In Advance, Including Your Interviewer

Dig deep and find out everything you can about the company. Check the company website and look up the person who will be interviewing you. Google any news about them. This research will help you to come up with reasons as to why you’re a good fit for the position. Why is it important to research? Because you want to be prepared. One of the main questions interviewers ask is, “why do you want to work here?” Understanding the companies history, their current projects, what’s happening in the news will help you link your experience with why you want to work there. Since most candidates don’t put in this effort, this will separate you from the pack and help you be memorable.

2) Check Glass Door, Yelp, Linkedin and Indeed For Information.

This interview is also about finding out if this is the right position for you. Often times, people take jobs without thinking about the culture of the company, the work environment, or the benefits. It’s essential to find that out as early as possible so you could bring these questions to the interview. Glassdoor and Indeed are both great ways to get insider information on what it’s like to work at a company. Nearly every major company has a profile on Glassdoor or Indeed. There you can find out about benefits, interview questions, the salary and what current and former employees think about working there. Yelp is also a really great tool to find out more about what it would be like to work there. Customers play a major role in your work environment. What they think about the service or the product matters. With Yelp, you can find out if the company is organized or easy to deal with. I also recommend checking LinkedIn and looking at the profiles of the person interviewing and people who have similar positions as you. Low-key stalking. ?You want to know what kind of background they have. Maybe they have something in common with you that you can bring up casually in the interview. Or maybe they know mutual acquaintances and can help with networking and getting your foot in the door before the interview. These are all amazing ways to prepare for a successful interview.

3) Dress Business Formal.

No matter the culture of the company, the best thing to do is always dress business formal for an interview. I know that interview clothes can be expensive but getting one outfit that looks fantastic will help you win the job.

I’ve seen everything. I’ve seen women trying to pull off mini dresses as interview appropriate, I’ve seen women wearing weird patterned stockings, I’ve seen men wearing borrowed sports coats with khaki pants to an interview. And though some of these outfits you can get away with, you’re risking the chance that the person who’s interviewing is a very formal, traditional professional and will judge you poorly based on your attire. Always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

Women should wear either a pant suit or, preferably, a pencil skirt with a blouse and blazer. For men, all you need to do is invest in a $200 tailored suit and $100 dress shoes and that’ll be your interview outfit for years to come.

4) Prepare Mock Interview Answers And Questions.

The hardest question I’ve ever answered is “So tell me about yourself?” It’s such an open ended question! Where do you begin; how should I tell my story in a way that makes this person want to hire me?

Being able to answer that question and tie it into your experience and who you are is key. Give me questions about my qualifications and my previous experience anytime, it’s the open ended questions that can go anywhere that tend to be the most difficult.

Be prepared for behavioral questions. Things like, “tell me the last time you were challenged at work? Tell me about your weaknesses? Tell me about your strengths? How do you handle disgruntled clients?”

Of course you won’t know all the behavioral questions that could come your way, but preparing yourself to think about how you would react in a situation in relation to getting the job is important for your preparation.

5) What To Do The Day Of.

The day of the interview I like to abstain from coffee. For me, coffee or any caffeine makes me jittery and anxious if I’m already nervous about something. And I’m a nervous Nellie when it comes to interviewing.

I’ll also bring a bottle of water. I tend to get dry mouth when I’m nervous; a lot of people have that sort of reaction to nervousness. Nothing is the more distracting than hearing my own lips smack together while I’m trying to have a conversation, so I bring water to keep myself hydrated and even break up the conversation. Take a sip here and there if I need to think about an answer. I also make sure I have everything I need in terms of my resume. I’ll look it over one more time to make sure it’s flawless and doesn’t need an update.

Finally, I’ll just relax. You’ve already done the hardest part of preparing and if it doesn’t work out then it wasn’t a good fit. No need to torment yourself and cause more anxiety by worrying about how the interview will go. Just getting to the interview process is an accomplishment in itself.

6) Interview Etiquette.

This is really more of the basics of shaking hands when you meet someone, making a lot of eye contact and smiling.

I would also recommend using the interviewers name during the conversation. Using someone’s name frequently helps make the conversation feel familiar, friendlier, and casual.

Having a firm handshake is also important. A strong handshake is the first indicator of confidence. Don’t go with the limp or killer handshake. Practice in advance if you’re unsure of what kind of handshake you have.

7) After The Interview:

Send a thank you note. Recap what was discussed and just remind the interviewer why you’re a fit for the company. Thank you notes are professional, nice and a good reminder for an interviewer who has probably met with half a dozen people already.

Follow up on whether you received the position. Any more than once is considered desperate. If the person wanted to hire you, chances are there would be no need for a follow up. But the follow up is mainly to keep on their radar. If they tell you you haven’t received the job, you should express interest in any of future positions.

Let go. Sometimes you go on an interview, send follow up notes, send thank you notes and you never hear back. It’s hard, especially when it’s your dream job or you’ve been out of work for a while, but it’s important for you to keep a positive attitude. Sometimes that means letting go of negative feelings from past interviews.

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Interviews are nerve-wracking. It’s scary to go in front of a stranger knowing they’re judging you from what you look like, what you sound like to what’s on your resume. At the end of the day, you have to be positive and understand that it’s a numbers game. Eventually if you play your cards right with excellent interview skills, you’ll get a job that’s the right fit and the right pay. These tips will help you increase your odds to help you find the right position.

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Tags Interview question and answer, interview help, second interview, phone interview, how to face interview, how to get a great interview

How to Job Hop Successfully

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Millennials are set to be the majority in the workforce in the upcoming years, that is if they’re not already running most offices.

5-10 years ago I remember reading article after article about how millennials were disastrous for companies because of their lack of loyalty and lack of respect for hierarchy and systems. Employers were scratching their heads trying to wrap their head around how to retain the best millennial talent. “What do you mean, you don’t want to pick up my coffee and work your way up from the mailroom? But that’s how everyone starts?!?!”

At the time, we were job hopping furiously trying to find opportunities that fit our best interest. Some of us were smart enough to realize that spending 5 years in a mailroom after spending thousands on higher education just wasn’t going to cut it.

I’ve personally had 8 jobs in the past 8 years! That’s a different job every year! Of course some of my employment was short-lived while others lasted 2-3 years. But honestly I’ve never stayed somewhere more than 2-3 years! Yet I’m making close to six figures in salary and compared to other comparable positions, I’m at the top of my pay scale.

So after 8 years of relentless job hopping here are some thoughts on how to make it work for you.  Is job hopping good or bad? That’s totally up to you!

1)  Realize the bigger picture of your position. Think about how will this add to your resume.

The only time you’re allowed to have a lackluster resume is during those few years after college. Even so, the lack of experience will cause you to be scrambling for meaningful work or any work at all. Because of this difficulty some people settle for the first job they land. Some people end up in the service industry like bartending or waiting. Others end up at a dead-end office job getting coffee for someone at a company that no ones ever heard of.

Smart employees take these opportunities for what they are and plan their exit strategy. They take on more than their role so they can add some extra skills to their resume. They bide their time while a side hustle slowly flourishes into a reliable business.

2)  You are not entitled to a growing career just because you have a diploma.

One of the hardest truths I’ve learned is that I was the only person that was capable of growing my career. No one else. All the dead-end jobs I ever had, the managers and coworkers would have been just as happy to let me stay there for all eternity as long as I did a good enough job.

Advancement? Ha! If you can call a 2% cost of living raise advancement, I guess so.

It’s a hard truth to swallow because universities and colleges tend to brag about how 99.9% of their graduates find jobs in the field of their choice within 6 months. You’re raised to believe that if you don’t succeed right away, it’s your fault. You’ll talk to your college guidance counselor and they’ll just say, “just network more.”

So for me job hopping was the best way to be in control of my work situation and career. By changing jobs frequently I was able to gain the knowledge I needed and move on to greener and more profitable pastures.

I would sometimes feel guilty for leaving, like, “omg, they need me…I can’t leave.” And I think people, especially women, tend to view their work like friends or family and feel loss when it’s time to move on… but at the end of the day we need to look out for own best interest.

3) You can give yourself some major pay raises by job hopping.

With every job you’ve taken, hopefully they’ve helped you add to your repertoire of skills so now that you’ll be in a position to negotiate and market what you bring to the table.

Here are the job hops I’ve made to help you’ve visualize what I did to make sure that each job and subsequent “hop” turned itself into a payday.

  1. Office job- sales job selling and organizing the movements of goods: $30K, 1 year period.
  2. Brief stint as a rental broker $1200. 3-4 month period
  3. Business owner- cosmetic distribution company- $5K over 1 year.
  4. Perfume salesperson- on and off for a few years, 8K over that period.
  5. Target Associate $3000- 6 month period. (I was pregnant during this time, so just needed light and easy work)
  6. Receptionist at a new rental building- 75K over a 10 month period.  (This was a troll position and I was definitely overpaid, but it was a blessing during the time I was a new mother.  It ended after 10 months because it was a contract position).
  7. Real estate broker – Year 1 $6000,  Year 2, $30K, Year 3 $45K.
  8. Full time salesperson for developers $80K

So my jobs were pretty diverse and but the main focus is that I’ve done sales jobs for the majority of my 8 years and, during interviews and my resume, I was able to convey how all these different opportunities helped me grow as a competitive salesperson.

Of course some things were irrelevant like that very short stint as a rental broker and that time I had to work at Target to make ends meet but those experiences still keep me humble as to how far I’ve come.  In the end I’ve left the more irrelevant experiences off the resume.

Overall, I think that job hopping has become more normalized.  People are realizing that they are not being rewarded or recognized for they loyalty and dedication but rather, treated like replaceable cogs in the corporate machine.  When there’s nothing to gain from staying, what is there to lose from leaving?

For me, my experience job hopping has been confusing and uncertain at times.  I wanted to know if I was going to make it somewhere where I felt I was earning a reasonable living.  And I finally made it!

My one piece of advice is to look at the big picture of what you need and want and commit to that over everything and everyone else.

Wishing you all the best of luck on your careers.  Feel free to share in the comments below.

Feel free to read my other career related posts:

Top 6 Ways To Maintain A Work Life Balance When Your Job Is Stressing You Out

Top Lessons I learned In Business & As A Salesperson

Build An Eye Catching Resume And Get More Interviews