Let’s call them what they are: uncomfortable. Interviews stink. Nobody enjoys the interview process, neither you nor the interviewer. Until someone can devise another way of going from stranger to acquaintance without forced dialogue, we’re all subject to the occasional interview.
If it makes you feel any better, nobody is ever done with interviews, including the one interviewing you, even the CEO. The board interviews her all the time.
In many ways, life is endless interviews. Your parents or your spouse interview you every day. Even after you find employment, they are interviewing you while you work, considering your next opportunity.
By that logic, you could scale these tips as your modus operandi for life. If you are this engaged in the minutiae of daily life, then you’ll have your best chance to land where you fit best, regardless of the situation.
The key is putting you in the driver’s seat of the interview without forcing it. This is called flipping the script.
These tips on how to do that are low hanging fruit, so much they are rotting on the ground. It would amaze you how many people fail to pick them up.
After conducting thousands of interviews in my life, I’ve seen a lot; not everything, but plenty. You can nail everything on this list and still fail, but you can’t miss any of these if you want to win.
Notebook And Pen
If you’re not a note-taker, it’s time to join the grown ups.
Successful people take notes, make lists, then review those notes all the time. By the way, just taking notes doesn’t guarantee success.
Find a notebook, something you can carry with you without hassle, but not too small. You have to be able to write in it. Tiny leather-skinned books you can’t open are dumb. Just find a clean notebook.
No smartphone notes. Don’t try to be cool. Someday this may be acceptable, but for now, you just look like you’re texting during an interview. Avoid.
Also, bring a pen. If you show up for an interview, then ask for a pen, leave. I’m kidding, but if you get the job after that one, then you should also buy a few lottery tickets.
People make mistakes, this is true, but we expect adults can pull up their own pants. We also expect they carry a pen to interviews.
My favorite interview outfit worn by a candidate was the time someone wore a t-shirt and elastic-bottom sweatpants, pulled up to reveal leather cowboy boots. Not to spoil the ending, but I didn’t hire that guy.
If you ask your parents, they’ll tell you suit and tie. If you’re interviewing for a corporate job, I would tend to agree.
The good news is, unless you wear a tuxedo, you’re not likely to offend anyone by overdressing. Don’t wear a tux ever, unless they tell you specifically to wear a tux.
The less your outfit stands out, the better. You don’t have to wear drab colors, but business gray is a good way to go. If you can sneak in a dash of color to make an impression, like on your tie, do it. Just, don’t go loud patterns or wild designs.
You also don’t have to wear a tie, but it won’t hurt.
Funky socks are one of my favorite fashion choices. I’d even appreciate them on candidate, but I would never recommend it as a general rule.
In general, wear clean clothes that don’t look slept in. Don’t go for sexy, not even a little bit, not even if you think it will help. If it does, you don’t want to work there anyway.
This is the hardest part. There is a gentle art of putting your best foot forward without coming across as a phony. If you can’t execute the above tips, then get some help. If you can’t take notes and dress appropriately, this one will really frustrate you.
You have to be yourself in the interview, otherwise, you’re committing a kind of lie. Don’t get hired as the bubbly person only to walk in the grouch.
Being your genuine self is harder than it sounds. In fact, if we’re scaling these tips for life, this is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. You can’t act genuine. You either are or are not your real self.
You can, however, put on an act, which is a mistake. Putting on an act is not genuine behavior. If you’re gonna smile, it should be real, not creepy.
Think of it like this: You are going in to be as helpful as you can. Imagine that the interviewer needs to solve something crucial, which they do. Be as helpful as you can to help them solve it. Remember their needs as much as your own.
This is where you officially flip the script. You may or may not use these questions, but have them ready anyway. You may decide during the interview that you have much better questions than the ones you designed. That’s fine, you have fallbacks just in case.
You notebook may be new, but there should be a list of questions on the first page. They should not be questions you scribbled in while waiting in the lobby.
Sit down the night before your interview to jot down some questions. What those questions are will depend on a few things, like where you are in the interview process, how much you know at this point, what you want to get from the interview beside a job, things like that.
You should have, at the very least, done as much research as possible on the company. Read everything you can find online. Familiarize yourself with their slogan, their core values, and if they have one, their mission statement.
This information is where you will start crafting your questions.
Ask open-ended questions, the kind one cannot answer with a yes or no. Your goal is to probe for more information, not to annoy the interviewer. Where one penetrating question is interview gold, a handful of silly questions is a stinking trash heap.
Never forget that the person conducting the interview is on your side. From the moment you walk in, the job is yours to lose. If you are the one they like, then they can relax.
The prospect of finding the right people for a job is difficult. It’s more than just the right talents, but the right fit for the team and the brand. You either will or will not be that person, but skipping these tips will prevent you both from finding out.
It will turn an otherwise uncomfortable situation into something much stinkier than it has to be. Instead, flip that script.