Top 10: Acing the Interview

Kenosha, WI. 2020.

In times like these, we must practice extreme gratitude. Whether it’s for being employed, sheltered, or loved – we must not take anything for granted.

If you’re currently unemployed, underemployed, or hungry for the next challenge; you are not alone. The last year has humbled us all (well, all but our Dear Tweeter).

In all cases, it’s essential (triggered!) to be prepared for your next job interview.

So, what makes me an authority?

Have I received a job offer for every position to which I’ve applied? Am I an HR professional? Have I taken a single class on this topic?

No, no, and you guessed it – no.

I have, however, spent much time on both sides of the proverbial table. If one of these tips helps just one person get the job of their dreams, I’ll be forever delighted.

Don’t disqualify yourself. Unless you’re Ivanka Trump, you’re not getting any job you don’t apply for. Don’t let the “5 years experience required” disclaimers deter you. Allow the recruiter decide (that’s what they’re paid to do!).

Update your resume. While this goes without saying, I have some important tips. Only your current role should be present tense, all roles prior should be past tense. Make it bulleted. Make it concise. Use powerful, relevant verbs. Take an hour or two to refine your personal statement. Make it real.

Study your resume. This sounds silly. But, no matter how much time I’ve spent prepping for an interview, it took me years to stop neglecting my own resume. Print a copy for yourself. Get familiar with the timelines. Have three major contributions in mind.

Research the company/department mission statement. If you don’t know what they stand for, how do you know you want to work there? Be familiar with their product lines and what differentiates them from their competitors.

No gaming allowed. There are only few things quite as cringey as interviewing someone who thinks they’re “reverse-psychologying” you. Don’t be presumptuous (“when I start…”). Don’t be insincere (“my greatest weakness is being a perfectionist”). While there are certainly different rules and expectations for interviews based on your industry, be honest. You wouldn’t want to get hired as a phony and have to commit to a decades-long charade anyway.

Harness your weakness(es). Be willing to share three honest opportunities for growth. Please don’t reveal your most embarrassing stories or your most unattractive character traits. Instead, share the skills/attributes you are working to refine. While some admissions will forever be red-flag territory (bad time management, dishonesty, etc), it’s better to tell some version of the truth. If not for the sake of honesty, then because they can tell when you’re lying.

Stay positive. Be ready to spin your weaknesses into strengths (ie: “I’ve historically struggled with delegation. Recently, I’ve been partnering with my team to identify meaningful work to share. I’m learning that…”). Never disparage a former boss, peer, or direct report. Instead, focus on what those experiences taught you.

Ask thoughtful questions. Similar to the “no gaming” rule, don’t bring a list of pre-published questions from any old article. Ask questions that prove you’ve been actively listening. Ask questions for which you’re excited to hear the answers. Aim to be inspired whether you get the job or not.

Share your passion(s). You’re a whole person! So is the interviewer! That means you’re 99% more similar than you are different. While it’s important you let them lead by setting the tone, it’s okay to share a personal remark or two. It’s what could set you apart from the rest (ie: “I’m glad you asked what I do for fun! I’ve been training for a Tough Mudder and was wondering if your team participates in any community events!”).

Be coachable. When an interviewer indicates any concern, I first thank them for giving me the opportunity to address it. Being receptive to feedback is a competitive advantage. Failure is often the greatest (and quickest) teacher.

Now that you know all my secrets, I can only hope that we’ll be working on the same team. Here’s to us, doing the damn thang.

P.S. Incase you’ve been missing my playlists, I’m gifting you with two. One that’s funky, and one that will power you through packing your entire apartment in one night. Warning: NSFW.

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. Remember that.”

THE Professor Dumbledore

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