We have more than likely all been there. The trying to not say the wrong thing. The over analysing the questions. The rambling. The clammy hand shakes. The coming up with the perfect answer several hours later. I am of course talking about the human experience of the job interview.
Personally, since graduating from university, I have been on what would easily top fifty job interviews for various positions. Working in industries ranging from a celebrity fashion writer at the Daily Mirror and a social media assistant for a top London photographer, to jobs in small, independent estate agents and a customer service role for a large retail brand, I have been on my fair share of interviews.
From assessment centres where you are placed with a large group of fellow candidates, asked completely random questions about hot air balloons and made to feel like a human statistic to intensely personal one to one interviews with creepy managers, I have been on them all. With rejection being a part of life, it can be very easy to let yourself get dragged down especially in the beginning. Over the years I have learnt a great deal from interviewing so much and wanted to share some of it, to help you take at least something away from your next
interrogation interview, even if you do not get the role.
Make an interview book
I have a little red, leather notebook that I have used for every interview I have ever been on. Before any meeting, I made brief notes in this book about the company I am meeting with, names of important people at the company, facts and figures (if it is that sort of place) and questions I want to ask the employer on my interview. I pop it on the desk in front of me at every interview which lets an employer know that I have come prepared.
Write down the interview questions you can remember them asking
We have all done it. We come away from the interview replaying every moment in our heads. It can drive us crazy because we always seem to come up with better answers hours after the interview, than we did when we were asked the question. And this is okay. It would be simple for me to say do not over scrutinize yourself, but that is a lot easier said than done. Due to this, make notes of what you were asked and write down what you said. Then, bullet point what you would have said differently. I often add this to my interview book so I can refer back to it at a later date.
Which questions did you feel you answered well? What did you struggle with?
This is not something you should spend too much time on, however after a few interviews I realised I was often struggling with the same questions. For me it was the dreaded ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?’ I sat down and came up with five personal strengths and five weaknesses and put them in my interview book. I have this as a main list and alternate two or three for each interview, depending on the position. You could ask me what my weaknesses are any time of the day or night and I would be able to give you some (but please don’t!)
Always ask for feedback
After an interview most places will contact you to let you know whether or not you have been successful, although some London companies do pretend that you have fallen off the face of the Earth. If you did not get the job, always ask the employer for feedback. Depending on what they tell you, take note of this and see how you would be able to improve on it moving forward, for your next interview. Feedback I used to receive was often about how quiet and reserved I would be in group interviews. Whilst it is important to listen, it is often just as important to make yourself heard. Working in a customer service role recently, really helped me in terms of letting people say their piece and then providing my own perspective on how I can help them. I have a post coming soon with more about what working in customer services has taught me.
What do you wish they would ask you?
This is a good question to ponder as it gets you thinking in new ways about what skills you can bring to the role. If they do not ask you what you want to be asked, find a way to incorporate your response into what they do ask you. For instance, if you would like them to ask for specific examples of when you performed a certain duty but they do not ask you, mix your response in when they ask you about previous employment or what you can bring to the role. These things will be your professional highlights so get them in there.
Lose the fillers
The ‘um’, the ‘like’, the ‘you know’, the ‘okay’. Ditch them. It is always better to just take a brief moment of silence in hesitation than to fill it with a sound as you ponder the question just posed. With these words being such a popular part of our lexicon (like, seriously) it can be very difficult to get rid of them, but you sound a lot more confident and professional without them. This is something I only picked up on when I used to have to listen to myself speaking with other people as part of my journalism degree.
Don’t feel like you have to go on and on
If you have answered the question in a few short sentences, you do not need to speak for five more minutes about this. If there is silence, the interviewer will move on before it becomes awkward. If you have not answered the question in a way they find sufficient they will ask you a counter question.
Rejection is redirection
This is something I came across last year when I spent 3 months looking for a new job and I wrote it on anything and everything I looked at regularly to serve as a reminder and also keep my spirits up. We might not be able to control what happens around us, be we can control our own beings. If one place decides they do not want us, it simply means it was not meant to be and we are redirected on to another path. It’s like driving down a road and half way down, the road is closed because of a flood. You need to take the fork in the road to find a different path to you destination. You don’t cancel you trip, you just find another way.
How you do handle job interviews? Do you tend to over analyse afterwards? Let me know how you cope in the comments below.