Career, Lifestyle

Things I’ve Learnt From Job Interviews

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.

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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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.

23 thoughts on “Things I’ve Learnt From Job Interviews”

  1. This is brilliant. I’ve somehow managed to get through life with only a handful of interviews. I have quite bad social anxiety and on and off agoraphobia so I haven’t been able to pursue my dream career. That is changing though, I went to an interview the other day and even though I didn’t get the place I’m so proud that I went. The fact you’ve been to so many is incredible and very inspiring to me. I really love all these tips and your notebook looks so nice and professional. Thank you so much for sharing I feel more equipped for the future 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading and your kind words. I think the high quantity of interviews came trying to land internships from/on my degree course and facing the rejection. I like to go on each interview I get, even if I don’t get or want the role so much just for the experience and I can always take something away from it. Good luck on the next interview you have and well done for going to your latest one! 😍

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that’s a great idea. I am not even getting any interviews at the moment… I moved to Sweden for my husbands job and without fluent Swedish it’s really hard 😩 one day I will get a chance 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “Rejection is redirection” that’s quite a powerful quote and so true about rejection in life generally. I liked how you said you relate back to customer service experiences to help you with interacting with interviewers and improve people skills. Great write-up again Ellie, and looking forward to your post on customer service life too 😊

    Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures
    https://johnnystraventures.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of the questions in my latest interview for my new job was what is your favourite quote and I said this and they loved it lol. Thank you for reading as always, appreciated ♥. I really wanted to write a one like ‘stupidest complaints you get as a CS agent’ but I’m not sure…maybe if I change the names.,.. 😂

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      1. I love how appropriate it was! When it comes to interviews it’s great when you’re able to spin certain things a full 360. That’s quite an interesting topic, can’t wait to see what other names you come up with.

        Also I watched a video about rejection this morning I think you’d love: https://youtu.be/I5ENsv_yqqQ

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have seen this video! Some of the Jay Shetty ones are super inspiring 😍 He’s a great motivator. That video is 100% true. Sometimes we need putting on another path so we can do what we really want! X

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    1. It is one of the most important things I think any of us can do in life. I always like to take something away from an experience like this to help me in the future. Thank you so much for reading and for your comment ♥

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  3. Thanx for sharing this. It’s good that in UK job seekers are allow to ask employer’s Feedback. It will help you improve better. Sadly, in Malaysia we aren’t allow to do that and most employers never give us their feedback.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading – I am glad you find these useful. Oh no, I am sorry to hear about your interview 😦 Some places can be such jerks, I hate that when they give off a super intense vibe, like calm down matey, it’s only a job at the end of the day, no matter how good or bad! I hope your next interviews go better. Best of luck x

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  4. Interviews are so important because this is your chance to stand out to the potential employer. It is great that you have an interview book! Feedback is definitely important; I’ve given feedback and it helps the next person. Rejection isn’t bad either, sometimes, that company isn’t the best for us. I know I wouldn’t want to work for a company that had a super strict interview process either.

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, definitely! It’s not only our first chance to make an impression, it’s also the companies first chance to do so, on us! I have had a number of interviews where I’ve come away thinking man, I don’t want to work here! Thank you so much for reading ♥️

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  5. Bear in mind that in a panel of interviewers, one might be extremely off hand to the point of being rude! Its a plant! Deliberately there to make you feel uncomfortable to assess how you would react in real life. Not all customers are nice. So go with it and don’t take it personally.

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