Tips for Acing Competitive or Informational Interviews
The day I graduated from college, I took off with a backpack full of clothes, a pair of old running shoes, and a Let’s Go Guidebook and headed toward the Southwestern Pacific Ocean to New Zealand. I immediately fell in love with the South Island and decided that I would channel my past four years of higher education into a job working as a jet boat assistant in Queenstown. Needless to say, I called home to tell my parents of my grand plans and found out that their intentions for me appeared to be quite a bit different. So, after six weeks of wandering somewhat aimlessly, I was nicely reminded to get my rear end back on a plane. My time had come to get a real job and so I headed off to Washington, DC and started sending out resume after resume. Looking back I wish someone would have sat me down and politely explained the unspoken rules of interviewing.
I now have the opportunity to meet with plenty of young job seekers for informational interviews and have gathered some entertaining stories through the years. I have compiled a few tips to consider when you are interviewing for a position or simply meeting someone for an informational appointment.
- Wear sunglasses during the interview (on your head or on your face).
- Take a call on your cell phone.
- Talk about how intoxicated you were during the weekend.
- Snap your gum or slurp on your coffee.
- Wear crazy jewelry, green nail polish, an unruly hairstyle, or noticeable eyebrow piercings.
- Forget to ask questions. But avoid questions whose answers can easily be found on the company website.
- Ask questions about salary and benefits unless you receive a job offer. It is presumptuous and annoys the person across from you.
- Challenge the interviewer to a competitive match (I once had someone show up with a little Ms. Pac Man game and challenged me to play with him because he had read that it was my favorite pastime).
- Give overly rehearsed and prepared answers. You come across sounding scripted and unauthentic.
- Ask to borrow cab fare.
- Research the company you are meeting. Understand their competitors and their clients.
- Practice interview questions with a friend or relative, or practice answering questions alone in the car. Folks may think you look strange, but it is well worth the extra effort.
- Be aware of your body language. Don’t slouch. Maintain eye contact.
- Be on time for your interview (or even a little early).
- Avoid nervous habits such as tapping your fingers, pulling on your hair or playing with a pen.
- Keep the interview positive. Please do not make negative remarks about any previous jobs, employers or colleagues.
- Use proper English—avoid slang or jargon.
- Treat the receptionist the same as you would the CEO.
- Follow up with a handwritten thank you note. This is not only proper etiquette and a common display of appreciation, but it also allows you to reaffirm one or two key points you talked about in the interview.
- End quickly and courteously. Do not linger. Thank your interviewer for the meeting with a strong handshake and a smile.
If you want more, don’t forget to check out Andrew Hudson’s job site. He is always full of great tips…