Hey there! So, I’ve got some exciting news to share: I just accepted a position as the Social Media Associate at a local firm here in Louisville! It’s a new role, so I’m really excited to be able to take charge of it and help shape the firm’s social media strategy. It’s one of my biggest passions and I think I’m going to be very happy at this new place.
To get this job, I had a series of interviews.
First, there was a phone call with a recruiter to gather some basic information about my background. Then, I had another phone interview with the marketing manager, who’s going to be my direct supervisor, to talk more about my experience and what the role will be. Finally, I had an in-person interview, panel-style, where I spoke with the marketing manager and two of her colleagues about my experience and answered their questions.
I’ve typically been pretty good at in-person interviews. However, in this interview, I noticed that I did better than normal. I left with a really great feeling, instead of just a, “It went well enough and I might get the job, but I’m not sure I was the best candidate.”
That observation led me down a line of thinking that culminated in this article.
I’m going to talk about some of my key tips on how to ace your next job interview, no matter what position you’re applying for.
Look the Part
I hesitated about putting this in here, but various horror stories courtesy of Facebook tell me that this needs to be said.
So, come into the interview well-groomed, wearing little makeup and perfume (or cologne), and dressed in a professional outfit.
Guys, this means slacks, a dress shirt, a blazer, and a tie. Ladies, a knee-length skirt or pant suit with a modest blouse or a knee-length, conservative dress are preferred. Neutral colors (black, navy, grey, khaki) with a pop of color, like a black suit and bright shirt, are better than wearing a zoot suit and neon green dress shirt or a rainbow-colored dress.
Oh, and you know, come alone. Not with your mom. According to Facebook, this is also something that should be discussed. I’m not sure what that says about the future workforce in this country, so I’m just going to end this portion here.
Preparation is key, folks. Always bring four things to an interview: a notepad; a pen; multiple copies of your resume; and a list of questions to ask your interviewer.
Preparation also involves being ready for some of the standard interview questions. “Tell me about yourself,” “What did you do in your previous role?”, and “Why are you interested in this position and this company?”, are some pretty common questions. Make sure you’ve got some notes jotted down on that notepad to spark your memory, so you’re not regurgitating your resume (which they’ve already read) or floundering for an answer.
Use the STAR method
I wrote an article detailing STAR here, but the jist is that STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. It’s the best way to answer behavioral questions, i.e. “Tell me about a time when X.”
Learn it. Love it. Use it.
We all want to make the best first impression. That’s great. But you know what’s not so great? Presenting yourself as someone you’re not.
While you should always strive to be courteous and professional, don’t feel as if you have to change key aspects of your personality just to get a job. If that’s something that you really feel you have to do, then you’re not going to be happy in that role. You’ll eventually quit and knowing that, it’s not fair to waste either your time or the interviewer’s time considering you for this role.
So, be yourself. Make (appropriate) jokes. Crack a smile. Show what an awesome, confident, knowledgeable person you are. Just don’t become a completely different person just to get a job.
It’s not worth it.
Clearly, the interviewer sees potential in you, or they wouldn’t have invited you in for an interview. This is especially true in a case like mine, where you’ve already moved through several stages of the process before the in-person interview.
Be aware of this fact. Take comfort in it.
Like many things in life, though, this statement comes with a caveat: Don’t be an ass. No one wants to work with an egotistic jerk.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but this really didn’t become apparent to me until this last job interview.
My questions for my previous interviews generally consisted of stuff like, “What’s a typical day in this role?”, or “How would you describe the company culture?”. It shows I’m not completely inept, and obviously it did well enough, but they’re rather boring questions. Nothing that helps the interviewer really “see” me in the role.
This time, though, I asked questions about the company’s marketing strategy and how they’re using social media to support it, current challenges they’re facing with their social media strategy, and what kind of support I would have from my team, especially considering this is a new role.
These questions did three things: they demonstrated my social media marketing knowledge; they showed that I’m already thinking about the challenges associated with this role and how to overcome them; and they helped the interviewers really “see” me in this role. They could clearly envision the kinds of questions that I would ask during meetings and the type of approach I take to solving problems.
At the end of the day, you should walk into your interview prepared, confident, and ready to be yourself and show interest in this role. If you follow these tips, the job should be yours for the taking.
Don’t think you can be authentic and interested in your interview? Then maybe this isn’t the right role for you. To give you some food for thought, take a look at my article, Why You Should Say, “No,” to That Job Offer.