Landing a job after college is simply not easy. Twenty-some years ago I was able to get my first start in the finance world through a simple game of pick-up basketball with some of the senior partners of the company. Nowadays, even the most qualified and talented individuals cannot seem to get their way through the interviewing stage after successfully mastering the cover letter, resume, and job applications portion of the process. Do not get discourage. There is much you can do to prepare yourself for the next opportunity. Below, I have listed seven successful tips to help aid you in the process. They will provide valuable insights into the reality of what companies and the person initiating the interview are looking for in a top candidate.
When going into an interview, it is important you understand every aspect of who you are personally and professionally. This will allow you to assess your strengths, weaknesses, goals (both long-term and short-term), passion, successes, and of course failures. Why do we need to speak about the negatives? Understanding your flaws is the whole purpose to self-reflection. This will allow recruiters and interviewers to see that you are aware of your shortcomings and have some way to overcome them. When self-reflecting, the last thing you want to do is internalize your greatest professional achievements. These are hallmarking moments in your professional life that you want to show employers with the greatest detail. Attributing these successes to transferable skills will put you in the best position possible before your interview.
Do NOT go in blind when interviewing. Do your research on the company, their goals, and the position itself. This is an incredibly important step that some people overlook. This also goes hand-in-hand with the first tip of understanding yourself. You want make sure you have a way of relating your skills and knowledge with the desired position. By doing your research, you will be able to internalize and reflect to the interviewer why you are the best-fit candidate for the position.
Self-Reflection and Research are simply not enough for success. Make sure that after you have gathered the background information of both the position and the company that you are able to prepare initial responses for expected interview questions. Most interviews usually ask the generic ‘why would you be the best fit for this company’ or ‘why us.’ You need to know how to answer these very broad and vague questions in the most professional way that translates your skills, knowledge, and talents for the position. Remember to go back to the position and why you are the best fit. Losing sight of that or stumbling with your answer can gravely cost you the interview. Always expect the unexpected. If you want, ask a friend or a family member to practice with you. In addition to the questions, practice your body language. Most situations, we are unaware of how our bodies act. Make sure that certain words you usually say, such as ‘um’ or ‘like’ are mitigated from your vernacular when you are in the interview and any odd body movements such as biting of the fingernails or twitching. Keep in mind that they are looking for professionals so make sure you practice your tone in addition to your answers and body language awareness.
Dress for Success
Make sure you plan out a wardrobe that fits the organization and its culture. Usually you are expected to dress professionally. Make sure your clothes are fit, clean, and pressed. Keep any accessories and jewelry to a minimum.
Once the interview starts, the key to success is the quality and delivery of every response and interaction you have with the interviewer. Your goal should always to be authentic, responding truthfully to every question. In reality, what companies are looking for is someone who is confident in their abilities and themselves. If you come off timid or shy, it can have companies question whether or not you are the best fit for the overall work culture. Having self-confidence, especially in job interviews begins with knowing yourself. Understanding and owning your goals, strengths, weaknesses, and personality will give in turn give these companies the confidence to trust in you. Remember this also goes back to your research and preparation. Even if you are a shy person, your answers and responses should not be. They should prove that you are the best candidate for that particular position.
Similar to confidence, be yourself. Do not pretend to be someone or something you are not. You know your strengths, your weaknesses, your achievements, and your goals. Translate that with your personality. Leverage your personality to attract the people in the right way exuding confidence and more.
This is not always a step you have to do, but it will be helpful in showing a stronger interest by asking a variety of questions about the company and the position. Having these prepared rather than thinking about them on the spot will help you from any awkward silent moments.