A few thoughts for Early Career Professionals
An interview is an opportunity to showcase your best, beyond your resume to land a job. It gives a chance to be ourselves in a setting that sometimes is uncomfortable. There is a palpable tension leading to a poor attempt and a couple of such ‘failures’ tend to affect us personally, a downward spiral of sorts. Despite all of this, there is a way in which we can make these interactions work to our advantage with a few things that may not be that obvious.
First things first, check out the job description or JD of the position that you are applying to. Many JDs are vague and it is best to prepare and ask questions even prior to the interview. Next, ask yourself if this is something you really like to do. Don’t force yourself on something you do not like to do. It will show at the interview, you cannot fake it. Prepare, prepare, and prepare well for the interview. Review your resume and there are things that you may want to highlight.
Common questions will be around your strengths and weakness. Write them down. Your accomplishments, some work that you are proud of, a strong story that they will remember much after you left the setting. Make sure you know the company and it helps if you can google the person who you are going to be interviewing with. Play the tape in your mind of what you wish to say. Know what you want and don’t beat around the bush.
Be on time, a tad early, if you can. Even if they are late to the interview, just ignore it. Be sure to understand the culture of the place. Don't be in your formal best in a place that has business casuals as a dress code. In both cases, shine your shoes, wear clothes that shows you off in professional light. It is better to be a tad overdressed.
A firm handshake and looking the person in the eye in a warm way helps. Interviewers have a bias for people who are likeable. Be at your positive best. And confident. Speak slowly. It is not a time to show your oratory skills and language proficiency. You need to be clear and articulate of what you are capable of and what value you can bring.
Do not bad mouth your current company or your manager who you work for. If you say something like ‘better opportunities’ and then say things around what you find interesting in the prospective company, that is a good way out. Do not fumble and take long gaps in responding. If you do not know, it is better to say so. Be measured in the way you speak. Your conviction must shine through your words.
Be honest and prepared to respond to “What questions do you have for me?” This is a great chance for you to know more about the company, the job. Be thoughtful, and this is where your preparation helps. Always thank the person for taking time out. Above all, close well. With a smile. They will remember you long after you left the room. Wish you the best!