4 Key Interviewing Tips: Back to Basics in a Whole New World
Layoffs, recession, unprecedented unemployment, the great r-word (reset/resignation/reformation) — what crazy times we live in right now. One week you could have a new job doubling your former salary, and then the next week be out with a pink slip after the company overhired.
However, after being through the interview process lately on both sides of the table (or zoom camera) myself, I've noticed that we probably need to consider the basics of interviewing again in this whole new, crazy post-pandemic world.
Friends, if you really want that job you’ve got the interview for, here are some points that can set you apart from the crowd — and let’s be honest, the crowd these days is pretty noisy (AKA a mosh pit):
What To Do At Interview if You REALLY Want the Job:
- Be enthusiastic — I know how nerve-wracking it can be to make a good first impression, especially for the ladies (yes, ladies, in particular, I’m calling us out here) out there who really get so serious and focus on the interview answers that they forget to relax a bit. Remember — it’s just a conversation. Don’t forget to get so focused on a good response that you forget to breathe! Share why you’re excited about the opportunity to interview and try not to look like you’re in pain during the conversation. I know this is doubly stressful when on zoom or teams and you can’t read the room and/or are worried about your cable modem crashing at any time. I also know that women tend to get hammered for not “smiling” enough — but ladies, breathe. (I’m not going to tell you to smile either — because I get it. That irritates me too.) But do try and ground yourself and get comfortable. Discuss what you’re passionate about and that will transcend and stick with the interviewers. If you’re uncomfortable with zoom or teams, practice several times with a trusted friend over a beverage before your interview. Another way — think about a hook for you. What caught your eye about the company or the job posting? For me, recently with Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company — it was simply doing my former job and reaching out to them on their drug prices and trying to find solutions for my former clients. What’s YOUR hook? Why are YOU interested in the new organization? Share that story with interviewers — they will appreciate it.
- Have questions for the interviewers — If we get to the end and ask you, “What questions do you have for us?” and you don’t really have any, that’s not a good sign. Here’s the place where you can demonstrate what homework you did to find the job and research the company, start with that — and then go into your questions. This is your opportunity to ask the questions you’ll never find online, like — “What is the company culture really like?” Or, “What is your favorite part of your job or the company?” Or, “Where do you see the company in 5 years?” I call all this True Hollywood Story time. This is your step backstage to ask the hard questions and get some solid answers. It’s also a good place to hunt for red flags with the company. Remember — this is as much about YOU getting a job that YOU love in a place that YOU love as much as it is about the company benefiting from your potential contributions.
- Ask for the job at the end — If you don’t really want the job, don’t ask for it. But, if you get to the end, really like what you’ve heard, get a good vibe from the interview, and if you REALLY want the job, please ask for it. Recap your best 3 qualities at the end, and state something like the following, “I hope that you would still be considering my candidacy as I would love to be a part of this organization — I’m excited to bring to the organization my strengths of ___ ___ and ___ .” Don’t play coy. No one has time for that anymore. (I think we’ve all learned that the hard way over the past 2 years, yes?)
- Follow up with a handwritten note — email is okay, but handwritten snail mail thank yous nail it. Every time. And yet, they’re so rarely used, which I find completely baffling; 99% of candidates never use them. But I’m guessing that the 1% who do get the offer nearly every, if not every time. I know there’s a lot of cynical managers out there that don’t care about this, but respectfully, they are wrong. Differentiate yourself from the mosh pit of mediocre candidates and stand out — at the cost of a whopping first-class stamp and one thank you card. I don’t think in this hyper-inflated world there’s a better ROI for a physical object remaining on the planet than a powerful handwritten note at the cost of a couple of bucks tops. (Seriously — even the dollar stores have thank you cards in packs for a buck.)
It’s just that simple, and that difficult. Interviewing, like everything, takes some practice. Unfortunately, we don’t really get to ‘try on’ jobs for fit before we take them in most instances; but these few interviewing tips should help you get to a good, better, or great job for you moving forward in these tumultuous times.