Job interviews are one of those frustrating facts of life that, unless we’re either really lucky or really unlucky, will experience a number of times in life. They’re stressful, judgy and generally a (useful) nuisance. They CAN be fun sometimes, but I think both the interviewees and the interviewers out there can agree that there are probably hundreds of other things they’d rather be doing.
I’m lucky in a way that, at 21, that I have seen interviews from both sides and know both what it’s like to go to a job interview and also what I have in the past looked for in people I have interviewed. Now, I have just done a couple of job interviews and have another one coming up in a couple of days, so I figured now is as good a time as any to share with you my tips for job interviews (or, if you really want to bomb your interview, do the opposite of what I say next).
Now, it is important in life that you never change yourself for something else, whether is be a job, relationship or… well, anything really! That still applies, but in some circumstances a kind of blending in technique can help you.
If I have a job interview at a chill looking pub, I’m not going to go in stressed like I want to work on Wall Street. If I want to work at a top class restaurant, I don’t want to rock up in jeans and a tshirt. It’s important to a degree to look at what role you’re aiming to fit into and doing what subtle things you can to look like exactly the jigsaw piece they need to fit the puzzle – make yourself the picture of the candidate they need.
I recently went for an interview at a pub and, knowing it’s a nice place with a good opinion of itself, I aimed to look clean and respectable. However, I also knew the manager to be somewhat of a big personality who likes to test people a little, so I aimed for a slightly less cutesy feminine look. And I also heard that the place could be one to get rough at times, so I made sure to ensure I looked capable of taking care of myself and tried to get across a “takes no shit” attitude.
At the interview coming up I know that it’s a very fancy place, therefore I will want to look clean and respectable, but also take into account it’s a busy place that requires an athletic and energetic nature to keep up.
I know job interviews can be a bit of a drag and, trust me, the person interviewing you is having even less fun than you most of the time! Interviewing person after person is beyond boring – it is frustrating! So, for your sake and theirs, you want to make sure you bring something fresh and new to the table and that will not only make the interview more fun, but it will set you apart from all the uninteresting interviews the other person has had to sit through that day.
Try your best to let your personality show, ask questions, try to have a laugh where you can. Don’t go overboard and start going off like a hyena and punching them in the arm, but show that you can have a sensible good time and could be nice to work with.
Being someone who the other person looks at and thinks “I could like working with you” is going to score way more points than “I could tolerate you”
Try to make the interview more relaxed and enjoyable by trying to keep your body language polite but relaxed, try to look at them as if you were looking at a respected friend rather than someone to fear and just try to genuinely connect with them. As someone who has worked in management, there is not much worse than that feeling of being treated like a monster as opposed to a human being just because of your job.
That’s a person
Following on from the last point, it’s so important to remember that the person interviewing you is a human being. They have hopes, dreams, fears, problems and have experienced some form of pain that you will never fully understand. We all have a life of our own completely separate from anyone else and they are just the same in that regard.
I don’t like using the “picture them naked” method as that just makes me uncomfortable looking at them – I personally like keeping seeing people naked fairly private! However, I do like to think about the fact that they aren’t always the person sat in front of you. Who are they when they are at home? Do they like to go play board games with their family? Do they sit in a onsie eating ice cream? What’s their favourite show on Netflix? Inside their head is a whole other universe and they are so much more than the role they are playing when they’re running your job interview.
Learning is okay
If you’re going in for an interview in a job you aren’t confidently practiced in, make sure you are clear that you are willing and ready to learn, but don’t make out that you know exactly what you are doing. I know people want to hire competent staff, but it’s better to say “I’m good at what I apply myself too, but I do need to learn more for you” than to tell them you know it all inside and out and to find yourself in over your head. TRUST me on that!
I was always way more likely to trust someone who went “I really want to do this, I will learn, will you help me be what you need?” than someone who was like “I can walk into this today and be exactly what you’re looking for”
Requiring training doesn’t make you any less able to do a job – if fact it can ensure that you are trained properly for the job you are going into! Working in a restaurant, I had a big issue with new staff thinking they could walk into the job, not really realising how a lot of places operate differently to each other. Yep, good work, you know where to keep the glasses in your old job! But we do kind of like them in the cupboard here.
I know, a fairly typical answer, but it’s important to remember that there’s no point being anything but who you are. However you behave when you get the job is how you’ll be expected to behave in the job, otherwise you have a lot of work ahead keeping up a facade that you’ll quickly get tired of!
Go in as yourself, offer the package that is your abilities, your work ethic and personality and then it’s genuinely you who has the job and you who has to continue it.
Of course, if you don’t really WANT the job but need the money, it probably isn’t a good idea to say that, but that’s in the realm of TOO honest!
Be on time and as they asked
Obvious again, I know, but you wouldn’t BELIEVE how many people I interviewed in my time who would roll in 5-20 minutes late for their interviews for no good reason, which really isn’t a way to make a good impression.
If you’re running late for whatever reason, call up and let them know and apologise and they will, more than likely, understand. If you’re going to be late, you may as well use it as an opportunity to show that you are courteous – could even add a couple points in your favour!
Also, if you have been asked to dress in a certain way for an interview or trial shift, then make sure you do! Obviously, if they have been inappropriate in their requests, then don’t bother with them, but do your absolute best to follow reasonable instructions.
I once gave a trial shift to someone and gave them very specific details of what to wear and also where to cheaply get anything to wear that they didn’t have as I really wanted them to have a good shot at the job and, as well as showing up late, they came wearing completely inappropriate clothes. I wish I could say it got better from there, but sadly that was just the start.
Listen, don’t panic
It’s very common, in my experience, for people to be focusing so much on how nervous they are and how much they want to impress that they forget to listen entirely. There’s a literal sinking feeling in your heart when you’re talking to an interviewee or new staff member and they are so panicky that they don’t hear a word you say, as much as you are trying to help them.
Take slow breaths, remember that you are going to do your best, everything will be okay and you don’t need to freak out. A little bit of nerves is great, letting it get out of hand can harm your chances. Take a moment to centre yourself and be in the moment and go at normal speed – no need to fly off at a hundred miles an hour!
I really hope this is of help to you and, if you’re going for jobs right now, good luck!
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