Welcome to our first blog of our series “Workplace Reality with Raquel”! I’ll be sharing my personal experience and also getting insight from a variety of professional and experts, all in the hope that you learn something new about navigating the workplace.
Before I dive in with this post’s topic, let me give you my life story some background about myself. I graduated from George Mason University this spring with a degree in Communication and a concentration in Journalism. Then I spent all summer, and I mean all summer, job hunting, and in September I joined EE, Inc. as the Marketing and Communication Specialist. That’s corporate-talk which simply means I manage the blog and social media accounts, along with other tasks that help with our inbound marketing efforts. Now let’s jump in!
Like I said, I spent the summer job searching, applying and interviewing. For me, the most stressful and intimidating item on that list is the interviewing. I feel uncomfortable having to brag and sell myself to a stranger, but in its core that’s essentially what interviews are. You have to answer the question “Why you?”
When you search “job interview tips” in Google, you get over 41 million results, but frankly the majority of my research was insulting to my intelligence. A ton of content was redundant with basic advice like bring your resume, dress professionally and make sure you know where the office is located. My reaction to reading this over and over again?
So if you’re tired of these Interviewing-101 articles also, read below for my 5 surprising job interview tips.
1. Give yourself a final pep talk
Whether it’s in your car, outside the office building or in the bathroom, allow yourself some time to regroup before heading into the interview. This isn’t the time to freak out or to scramble last-minute answers. Just take a deep breath, tell yourself that you can do this and smile. Even if you’re nervous and the smile isn’t genuine, faking it improves your mood and reduces stress. The saying “fake it till you make it,” truly applies here.
2. Bring a notebook and pen
Maybe this is my journalism experience shining through, but I always brought a notebook or notepad and a writing utensil to interviews. Heck, I even had them during phone interviews.
You might be asking, “But Raquel, isn’t it rude to be writing while the interviewer is talking?” No! You’ll seem attentive and interested in what they’re saying. Before I pick up the phone or walk into the office, I write on the top of a new page the name of the interviewer, the company and the position I applied for. This is useful if you’re in a whirlwind of multiple interviews. Here are more reasons to pick up that pen in an interview:
>> It gives you something for your nervous, sweaty hands to do.
>> It helps you avoid blanking out in a panic and remain actively listening to the interviewer because it’s not fun to miss a question directed to you.
>> It’s a resource to look back to after the interview, so you have something to write about in the thank-you email and are prepared for the next round of interviews, if applicable.
>> When you think of a comment or question while the interviewer is talking, you can write it down so you don’t forget that insightful nugget of knowledge! I would star these notes to keep them easily visible, but find whatever formatting works for you.
A final note on this tip: if you’re not used to this sort of multitasking, then practice taking notes during a mock interview. The key is to jotting down the key points, not trying to write the interview verbatim.
3. Wear layers
I don’t know about you, but I tend to sweat when I’m nervous. Hey we’re all human, right? That’s why I made it a habit to wear a top made of a thin, breathable material. If you’re a woman, you also have the option of wearing something short-sleeved or sleeveless. But on the flip side, offices tend to be set to the temperature of a freezer.
That’s when the handy blazer jacket or cardigan comes in. This tip may seem mundane, but it’s important to feel physically comfortable during the interview.
4. Be prepared to give your salary preference
This is a nugget of advice that I wish I found before my trial-and-error because I was definitely not prepared to talk this in interviews. I was under the Old School impression that “salary” isn’t even muttered until you get an offer, especially if you’re entry-level.
But I kept getting asked in the initial phone call or in-person interview of what I was looking for in my pay and I would blubber an answer or divert the question altogether. Once the lesson was learned, I started researching on Glassdoor for salaries in the company I was interviewing for and an average in my particular industry and position. Keep in mind that location and the size of a company greatly affects this number.
Personally, I liked giving a range with a difference of $5,000 to show that there’s room for negotiation on my end. Researching beforehand will allow you to find a number that isn’t too below or above the market trends.
5. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to converse with the interviewer
As I said above, interviews are nerve-wracking experiences. This can make it easy to only speak when directly asked a question from the interviewer, but I challenge you to throw out that notion. Don’t approach the experience as a one-sided interview, but as a conversation. Here are three ways to achieve this…
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