But as your initial excitement wears off, reality starts to sink in. You got an interview for your dream job. But now, how do you get hired? It’s important to have the best interview you can, and to do that, it’s critical to prepare effectively. Be positive, you can do it. But make sure you follow these steps to put your best foot forward…
What to do beforehand. Practice, practice, practice. Job interview sample questions are easy to find online, so review general job interview questions and prepare your answers. Also, try searching for industry-specific questions so you can prepare for any other topics of conversation as well. Have your significant other or a friend pretend to be your interviewer and practice your answers out loud.
Think about what strengths your dream job requires and how you can show your interviewer that you have the skills and strengths necessary for the job. Make sure you can explain your strengths clearly, and have several stories with a good outcome that illustrates your strength. Prepare stories about challenges you have faced and overcome, problems you’ve solved, and clients you have made happy with your work. Remember you have to show your prospective employer why you can do their job, not just tell them. Show them using stories.
We like our clients to prepare what we call a Brag Book- a bound, professional looking document (you can get this done at Staples or Office Depot) that outlines your qualifications. Include in this document your resume, LinkedIn recommendations, testimonials and references, and any other supporting material you want to provide to them. This could include campaigns you have run, graphic designs you have created, or articles you have written. Anything directly related to the position that will illustrate why you are qualified can go into your Brag Book, as well as a basic 30-, 60-, 90-day plan for if you were hired, what you would do on the job in those first months. This will show the employer what you are made of and how you would operate.
Tips before you go. Make sure you bring your materials with you to your job interview and a Brag Book for each person you will meet with if you have chosen to prepare that document. Make sure you have checked your email and responded to all pertinent emails regarding your job interview and double check the day and time.
It’s important to arrive early, plan on being there 15-20 minutes before your interview starts. This gives you time to look organized and collect your nerves. It also makes a good impression on your job interviewer to know that you were there early. It shows that you are responsible. Another tip that many neglect to do before going to the job interview is to check the social media profiles of the organization where you’re interviewing. Read about them online in articles. Verify the financial health of the company if you can.
Learn about their values, mission, and any recent big news so you are knowledgeable, not just about the position, but about the company as well. Bring these items up during the interview. It shows you are knowledgeable, interested in the position, and did your due diligence.
Looks Matter. What you wear says a lot about you, so it is important to dress for the job you want. Find out the culture of your dream job so that you can dress appropriately. Keep in mind that this may not always mean wearing a suit and tie, but always dress nicer than you usually would, ALWAYS. Don’t use this opportunity to make a statement with your clothes, your dream job interview is not the time for that. However, that doesn’t mean you have to look exactly the same as everyone else that will be interviewing.
Don’t be afraid to show some of your personality by using a bright color, scarf, cool purse, or socks if appropriate for the culture of your industry. Wear good quality clothes for your interview- buy something if you have to. This may mean making an investment in your closet, but it’s worth it. Your new outfit will be something you can wear once you get the job, and at the very least, to another interview. Wearing good quality clothing shows the interviewer that you are willing to invest in your career.
Clean up your social media profiles. A lot of emphasis is given to social media profiles these days for a reason, it really does matter. You don’t want to lose out on the job of your dreams over an inappropriate social media picture. Even if your social media accounts are private, your profile pictures will be visible to anyone who looks you up. So make sure that your profile picture is professional looking. If you have had the same social media account since college and those memories would embarrass you if your potential employer saw them, take the time to create a new account and mark the personal one as private.
During your dream job interview. Take your time when responding to the interviewer’s questions. This will help you stay calm and collected. Rushing through usually makes us more nervous and more prone to making mistakes. Make sure to smile at the interviewer and make eye contact. Sit up and forward, engaged in the conversation. Remember, this is your dream job. Let your interviewer know that you want it! This is the time to “sell yourself” to your dream company, so don’t be afraid to highlight your accomplishments.
Make sure you have understood the questions you are asked, ask for clarification if necessary. If the hiring manager asks a question you have no idea how to answer, ask for a moment to think before you respond. It’s OK to pause during the conversation, that’s part of the natural rhythm of any conversation, including an interview.
Although you have prepared yourself to answer a lot of questions, don’t forget to ask questions of your own. Ask them why this position is open, what programs are in place to help employees to continue to develop and learn, and ask them how job performance is evaluated. Request to speak to someone who already works there, specifically in the department you are hoping to work in. Speaking with a potential fellow employee can help you get a feel of office culture and a better idea of how you might fit in. Make sure that you have questions prepared for this conversation as well. Ask about the goals for the position, what departments you would be working with most frequently and the management style and culture of the organization.
Finally, at the end, ask for the job. Ask them if they have any hesitations about moving you to the next round of the process that you can address for them. Also, find out the next steps in the process and who you should follow up with.
What to ask yourself after the interview. After the interview, it’s important to take some time to reflect on how you personally feel after the interview. Is this really your dream job? Ask yourself:
- Will this job use the talents and skills that I want to use? Maybe I am good at the tasks that this job requires, but do I want to do them?
- Will this job challenge me consistently and continue to do so in the long run? If the challenges are not inherently present, can I create those opportunities?
- Will this job give me change to make a difference that I want to make in the world and/or in my career path?
- Will this job meet my needs (and this doesn’t just mean financial needs)?
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