Interview Hack: Don’t Be Insecure

HBO-insecure

Interviewing sucks. The interviewers and screening methods aren’t always objective. You have less than one hour to impress a stranger while being judged by them. There is only so much you can do as a candidate during the interview process.

Good news is that if you got a call scheduled, you’ve passed the first test. You’ve done a decent job crafting your resume or online profile to showcase your experience and skills. The rest is on your ability to further demonstrate your worth as much as possible.

Here are a few quick tips on how to minimize your insecurity as a job seeker when interacting with recruiters and interviewers. Think of the interview as a final exam and crush it like a pro.

insecure not ready

Hack #1 Study & Do Your Homework!

Research about the position, team, and company. Prepare answers for commonly asked interview questions. Being stumped is uncomfortable for both the interviewer and interviewee. However, do not steal other people’s answers online and use it verbatim; interviewers will know because they heard it before! You want to study and practice as much as possible especially for technical positions that require tests. Get a whiteboard and practice writing code and explaining it to someone.

Prepare at least three meaningful questions for each interviewer. Show your passion for the subject matter and company’s mission. The lack of curiosity is often perceived negatively. By simply asking good questions, you appear as someone who cares deeply about the opportunity. It’s also a nice break from doing all the talking.

On the other hand, you will know if you want the job or not by the end of the discussion with meaningful questions. It is your chance to check your mental wishlist to see if the position is indeed a growth opportunity for you.

“What is the biggest challenge for the team?” “Can you tell me about a typical day?” “What are the top three priority for the person in their first year?” “What is your leadership style?” By the way, asking about pay or benefits or PTO is not a meaningful question – save those to discuss with your recruiter.

insecure listen

Hack#2 Give Them Cliff’s Notes, Not A Lecture

Give a concise and relevant answer to each interview question. When interviewers inquire about your current team, no need to start your story with your college roommate. Cut to the chase… we’re not sitting by the campfire and making S’mores here.

When sharing your experience, keep your story within two minutes, just enough time to play a song and hold your listener’s attention. Like a well-composed song, you want a strong beginning (a business problem), memorable chorus (what solutions you provided and how you solved it), and satisfactory ending (positive results and impact). Give them the highlights of your career that will sear in their brains like a song that keeps playing and won’t go away. The interviewer needs to walk away knowing why you want the job, what assets and experience you bring to the table, and exactly how you can collaborate with the team and contribute to the company. Give them no reason to reject you.

insecure woot

Hack#3 Smile & Be Nice

Even when you don’t have the right answer, good attitudes go a long way. Emotional intelligence is just as important as intellectual capacity and curiosity. Interviewers want someone who won’t be angry, bitter, or frustrated when a perfect answer isn’t available because that’s life. We are often wrong but it is ok when we know we can count on you to figure things out together. If you are driven by positive energies, people are naturally drawn to you and will be supportive of you as a candidate even when they disagree with your point of view.

Lastly, don’t be insecure if you end up not getting the job. No need to take the rejection too seriously. More often than not, employers decided to promote or transfer someone internally or hired someone with a very specific type of experience to fit the business needs. You did your best and there’s no regret. Rinse and repeat.

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First Job After School? (Insert Emoji)!

When you start your job search after graduating from college or coding bootcamp or even graduate school, first thing first- manage your emotions and expectations.

fob attitude

  • Don’t be a jerk because everyone remembers when someone was a jerk to him/her.

Looking for a job is a job in itself; it takes time, efforts and dedication. It can be a grueling process from start to finish- filling out dozens or even hundreds of applications, waiting for a response, explaining yourself to strangers, going through the interviews, being rejected many times, hoping for and accepting an offer.

Remember, everyone goes through the same hurdles to land a job. You need to respect each employer’s requirements and processes whether you agree with them or not. Unfortunately, many companies’ recruiting systems are broken and entry-level candidates usually get the short end of the stick. Also, you are likely to be competing with dozen if not hundreds of applicants with similar background and qualifications. The circumstance may be challenging but it is the first test on your perseverance. Who told you it’s gonna be easy? :scream:

You need to be as professional as possible during the application and interview process. Do not show your frustration or desperation in any way to recruiters or interviewers. No need to take it personal when you are rejected; it simply is not the right timing or right company for you.

True professionals start managing their reputation before they hold the title. Employers look for candidates who can work under pressure with emotional intelligence. Compartmentalize your emotions and don’t be a jerk to people you interact with during your job search.

fob jessica

  • Patience is a (required) virtue and time is money. You either need patience and time or patience and money. Prepare for at least one of those options.

It will take a while for you to get an offer and finally get one that you actually want to accept (you may not be lucky enough to find one that you want for your first job but I’ll save that topic for another day). Of course, not everyone is in a good financial situation to be waiting for a perfect job.

Work with what you have as early as possible. You can decrease the time spent on job search after graduation by increasing the time spent on job preparation while you are in school. Know how much time and savings you have for job search and plan accordingly depending on the length of program you’re enrolled in. Start planting the seed and building your resume early. Way early. (P.S. Don’t listen to your academic adviser and pick any major randomly and take on student loans for no reason.)

Like most students, you probably don’t have savings to spend while looking for a job. Get as many internships as possible and start going to job fairs and talking to recruiters when you are a freshman. Connect with older cohort and alumni of your program because most alumni are willing to refer someone from their own alma mater, not to mention most would receive referral bonuses from their employers. :moneybag:

If you can’t afford to take internships for many are underpaid or unpaid, you can still make the best out of your part-time job in the service industry. Most people become good friends with their coworkers and you can leverage your network outside of school as well. There’s only six degrees of separation to almost everyone. Sometimes it’s not about who you know, it’s who knows you.

Fresh Off the Boat Eddie Huang life's heavy son

  • “But it’s not fair!” Oh, honey, nothing is fair in this world. Not a dang thing.

You will probably see some of your mediocre classmates get seemingly the perfect job at some fortune 500 company while you are still taking the never-ending online personality assessment for a random job that you happened to click on. Guarantee that there is at least one person at every company that will make you wonder “How did he/she get there?” “Why is he making way more money than me?” “How is she the manager?”

There will be times that you were told that you’re not qualified because of your lack of the experience and they promoted someone without any relevant skills to that position. There will always be somebody making more money than you doing the exact same thing (sometimes a lot less work) and somebody with more vacation time than you without accruing it. It makes you bitter and cynical and sad. :tears:

That’s not the point. Comparing yourself to others or your imaginary expectations will only kill you slowly. It is exhausting if you try to live a instagram-perfect life, a.k.a looking fabulous while working hard AND playing hard. You are your own audience and the only judge. You have a job, you get paid, and you deserve a good night’s sleep.

Be fair to yourself because the world is never going to a fair place for you or anyone else. Invest in your own growth and development and become a better version of yourself every day. Become more emotionally attractive because how you feel about yourself and how you make others feel are 100 times more powerful than what the eyes can see- your looks, salary or title. :heart:

 

Sing Your Way To A New Job

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As a recruiter, I’ve read thousands of resumes, interviewed hundreds of candidates, and witnessed a few common job search mistakes. What could possibly be better to ring in the new year than singing along with me and learn how to increase your chance in upgrading your career in 2017?

♥ Call Me Maybe ♥ Hey, I just read your resume/ And this is crazy/ But where’s your number/ So I can call you, maybe?!

To get a call back from a company, it is extremely helpful to give your contact information (duh!): full name, email, phone number, address (local AND non-local if relocation is applicable for the position), personal website or online professional profile (if available).

It is okay to use your alias on your job application but make sure to include your full name for a professional job (unless you are Beyonce or Drake and I can see why you don’t need to). Please change your email sender name to your name listed on the resume as well. I get how Katy Brand used to be Katy Perry. But what confuses me the most is when I emailed Bruno Mars (name on application) and then received an email from Will Smith (email sender name). Eh?

Also, please explain why you apply for a job in Phoenix, AZ if you have lived and worked in Ann Arbor, MI for ten years. Are you open to relocate? Are you looking to work remotely? Most recruiters don’t have the psychic power to read minds even though mind-reading would be an awesome skill and not yet a resume buzzword (!).

No, a LinkedIn profile or an online portfolio such as github is not required unless requested by the company’s job listing. However, it is in your best interest to update and clean up all of your social profiles prior to your job search. Yes, 100k followers on Twitter is definitely impressive but your hating-on-your-company tweet probably won’t help you.

∞ Hello ∞ Hello from the other side/ I must have called a thousand times/ To tell you I’m ready to consider you for the job/ But when I call, you never seem to be home

“I’m available before 8am and after 5pm during the week and I’m open to speak any time on the weekend.” This is the most dreaded phone scheduling response for every recruiter. We are not trying to take you out for a date! Right, you are busy with a full-time job and so are we. Like anything worthy in life, landing a better job takes time, efforts and commitment. Time management is key to your success. Be ready to carve out some time in your regular schedule for calls with potential employers.

× Don’t Speak × I know just what you’re saying/ So please stop explaining/ Don’t tell me cause it may hurt you/ Don’t speak/ I know what you’re thinking/ I don’t need your reasons

When singing Karaoke, it is great to express your emotions and how you feel about the song. It isn’t just about the lyrics; it is how you make people feel with your performance. To impress your interviewer over the phone, emotion management is just as important as your answers. Job search is indeed one of the most stressful life events and many job seekers are in the market due to an unfortunate environmental factor such as lay-off, management change or toxic work culture. Regardless of what you have been through lately, employers are looking for people who are able to stay humble and positive, open to learn from the past, and excited about the future.

Bad things sometimes happen to good people; you can still present yourself with dignity and grace. I’m not asking you to talk like a robot because we are emotional beings and it is natural to show your feelings. Rigid and scripted answers to interview questions are just as deadly as lip-syncing in a live Karaoke show. Interviewers can spot a scripted answer and lose interest quickly. Be honest and genuine without spilling your frustration or hurt feelings when addressing your employment termination with past companies, your relationship with previous supervisors, or any change in career path. Your attitude and action towards adversities is what defines you, not what happened to you.

« Don’t Stop Believin’ » Don’t stop believin’/ Hold on to the interviewin’/ Opportunities, people/ Ohh-Ohh-Ohhhhhhhh

It usually takes about a month and sometimes up to three months to fill a skilled position. Sit tight and be patient. It is a process that may be very rewarding and life-changing!

 

→ I’m always hiring! Click here for open positions. I read every resume and email unlike your last recruiter (Ok, maybe not your last one, just the one(s) who ruined recruiter’s rep).  

Try Knitting While You Wait

knitting

Nobody probably told you this before- one of the biggest pet peeves HR and recruiters have is candidate showing up too early for his/her time. We really hate it when you show up too early.

How early should you show up for your interview? While interviewers expect you to be on time, we don’t want you to show up too early. It is very likely we have meetings to go or work to do right before the scheduled interview.

Be prepared in advance for the travel time, considering general traffic condition and the exact interview location (what floor? what suite? security check-in needed? easy parking?). Managers expect you to arrive on time but you may arrive 5 minutes before the scheduled time. 10 minutes is good enough if you wish to use the bathroom to freshen up and calm your nerves. You are pushing the button if you decide to show up 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. 20 plus minutes before scheduled time? Please just sit in your car, read today’s news, play Candy Crush, meditate, or walk around in the neighborhood to find tidbits to chat about with the interviewers.

You normally wouldn’t show up 20 minutes early for your restaurant reservation, right? It’s even more uncomfortable for employers because we don’t usually have a bar for you to get a drink while you wait. Typically you won’t have the DMV experience where you have to wait a long time for your turn with skilled, non-volume positions. If you insist on showing up super early, expect to be left alone until your scheduled time.

I’m seriously thinking about giving unfinished sweaters to candidates who show up way early for their interviews. Yeah why don’t you try knitting while you wait?

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