A good interview has the power to change your career, the power to change your life. When I first started looking for a job, I was living at home in Vermont. After multiple months of networking and resumé forwarding, I received a phone call from a mutual connection that informed me there was a position opening at a bank in New York City. Despite my initial interest in Boston, I accepted the interview offer. This was an opportunity I could not pass up, the real deal. Two days later I was on a plane that was landing in JFK.
This wasn’t my first job offer or even my first interview. I knew the general expectations and had memorized a few “go to” questions, in case any awkward silences crept into the conversation. However, I had a feeling this interview would become a pivotal point in my career and my life. I knew I had to prepare much more thoroughly for this than I had ever done before. Since I am currently working at this bank, my gut tells me my preparation paid off. Below I am going to share with you some of the steps I took to ensure a smooth interview and to increase the likelihood of nailing the job interview.
The overall picture: The reason a company is interviewing you is because they want to see if you are mentally capable of holding an intelligent conversation with someone that you have never met. Now the added pressure doesn’t help this situation. Bottom line though, a person who works well under pressure demonstrates the capacity to work diligently enough to handle a difficult job.
Your resumé needs to be impeccable. End of story. I had over ten people analyze and spellcheck my resumé before I even started interviewing or forwarding it to anyone. There are no excuses for mistakes. When finalizing your dictation, perspective is important to remember. The person reading your resumé will be reading hundreds of other ones just like yours. After getting bored, it is likely they skim more quickly over the wordier ones. Stand out and impress your potential boss by describing your experience as sophisticatedly as possible, using the least amount of words.
Dress: If you’re a guy, you need to wear a suit. This is a must. Girls, you know what to do as well. You also need to have all the bases covered. These include facial grooming, quaft hair and clothing with absolutely zero wrinkles. The little things do matter now. You should try to act like you just came out of a GQ magazine article. Employers will judge you on your looks more than you would think, so don’t give them a reason not to hire you based on your appearance. I’ve talked to many employers and executives. Trust me.
Dominate the interview; show confidence while casually building rapport with your interviewer. Find a common point of interest and focus your conversation on those grounds so you can relate more easily to them. This could be something about a mutual school, club, sport or hobby that they may mention. This can also be used as a way to answer the more deep personality or experience questions they may fire at you later on.
You should be the interviewer. The employer wants to hire someone who is passionate. The best way to show passion is to be curious and ask questions. When I interviewed in New York, I researched the crap out of the industry and the company. I’m fairly certain that I asked more questions than the person who interviewed me. The night before my interview, I came up with almost 50 specific and technical questions that I could ask to show how passionate and ambitious I was. I typed them all out so they were easily accessible. During my interview I pulled out the list and asked if I could interviewer for a little bit. I’ve heard of Ivy League grads who looked good on paper, but were eventually denied because they failed to ask questions. Don’t let this be you. Ask questions! People love to talk about themselves.
Be yourself. Remember that you are going to be working many hours at your job and people want to be around someone enjoyable and friendly. After I was hired, my boss said that one of the reasons I was appealing as a hire was because I was someone that he could easily imagine drinking a beer with or talking business outside of the office. He saw this in me more than in the other applicants he interviewed. So lastly, relax, be yourself and remember to smile too!
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