There is tremendous anxiety when it comes to the dun, dun, dun...interview! But why is that? Have you ever considered that you are interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you? The primary rule of any first date, especially a blind date is don't act desperate. The same rule applies to looking for employment, even if you just spent your last tank of gas getting there. Employers, just like sharks, can smell fear and the outcome is usually an e-mail that says "Thank you for your interest. We had an excellent pool of candidates. We have chosen a candidate who we believe is the best fit for our company. We wish you the best as you continue your job search." Translation, kick rocks.
Just like a date, you want to look your best, know your worth, take the time to get to know your potential significant other, and keep your check-list of must-haves in your pocket.
1. Look your best
The standard for all professional interviews is a black, navy, or grey business suit. Women have the option of a skirt or pants suit. It is important to provide a neutral appearance with the pop of personality until you see what others in the organization are wearing. Never come with less than your best. Employers have expectations and you want to meet and exceed them. As for the pop of personality, showcase that with flattering accessories. Gentlemen, your favorite tie or bow tie, sharp cufflinks, and Johnston & Murphy shoes. Ladies, a cami that is your favorite color matched with a great necklace and earrings, and your favorite (comfy) Nine West pumps.
2. Know your worth
There is a difference between confidence and cocky. Most people do not know the difference between the two. Here's a little reminder to jog your memory. To be confident is to be certain, "full of conviction" (Merriam-Webster.com/Dictionary). Conviction implies that you strongly believe in something and can point to evidence that supports your conviction. In this case you strongly believe in your ability to perform well in the position for which you are applying and have evidence: professional experiences. Cockiness on the other hand is an exaggerated expression of confidence. It displays an insecurity in who you are and the skill set that you bring to the table. Thinking that you are the ONLY person qualified for the job and demonstrating your lack of a team player attitude is the quickest way to get "DENIED" stamped on your application. Don't be an exaggerated version of who you really are; be yourself. Firmly rooted in your convictions, qualifications, and what you can offer your potential employer. The truth always prevails.
3. Get to know them as much as they are getting to know you
ALWAYS and I do mean ALWAYS ask questions when you have the opportunity to do so. Very little will make you come across more naive then not asking at least three key questions. You're on the date too remember? Ask questions like, what is your department's greatest need and how can this position contribute to the solution? or What personality traits would best match the environment of your staff? or What are the goals of this unit for the next 3-5 years? If your interview isn't going as planned, asking all three of these questions will make your potential employer reconsider their initial judgements of you, and give you at least one more shot if you didn't impress them with the first 2 steps. If they were already impressed, you are almost done sealing the deal.
4. Keep your check-list of must-haves handy
Before going on your date or in this case interview, always ask yourself, "What am I looking for in a new job?" Brainstorm all the things that come to mind then prioritize your list solidifying your top 10. Don't expect to get all 10. Treat your list like a quiz. Receiving a 9 out of 10 is excellent, an 8 out 10 is still pretty good, but a 3 out of 10, even if they offer you the job, you may want to reconsider. Items on your top 10 list might include: an employer who values work-life balance, is family friendly, uses green products and recycles, or more importantly has a mission that you can believe in and adopt all or part of it as your own. These are things that will keep you happy in the long run. At some point the money still won't be enough so don't say yes the money and end up hating your job.
I hope you found these quick tips helpful. Happy dating, I mean interviewing!
Gala Jackson, M.Ed.