In this series of articles, ELGL members will reflect on the themes from our recent survey on careers. Katie Babits provides resume tips, and now, Emily Leuning gives us a download of the best tip for interviewing.
6 Tips for Interviewing for a Job
I’ve read through and compiled the most helpful responses to the question “What’s the best advice you’ve learned or shared about interviewing for a new job?” from our recent survey on local gov careers. Over 160 people provided input, and there was a wide variety of suggestions you can implement during your next interview process. As someone who is currently applying for jobs, this exercise provided a great opportunity for reflection on my own interview prep as well as a couple of things I hadn’t thought of before!
Overwhelmingly, the number one interview pro tip was to be yourself. Relax, breathe and smile. Try to put forward your authentic self; the interviewers are looking for a good fit for the organization, and, as one respondent explained, “You can teach people work skills but not change who they are”. Be confident and well-prepared, and you will have an easier time showcasing the real you.
Take time to think about your answer, don’t just rush into a response. Several respondents noted that in past interviews they have conducted, they would rather the candidate pause for a moment to think about what they are going to say instead of rushing into a less complete or jittery answer.
Several people suggested going beyond just dressing appropriately to dressing for the job you want (unless the job you really, truly want is a trapeze artist or scuba diving instructor). Of course you should wear attire appropriate for the organization, but beyond that dress for the job you want (Air Force One accessories optional, but if you have any you don’t need send them my way!).
Research, research, research. Take the time to find out about the organization, the work it does and the people who will be interviewing you. Go through the job description and make a list of questions you may be asked during the interview. Practice your answers and make sure to include specific anecdotes from past projects. Additionally, have questions ready; even if they indicate you won’t have time to ask any questions, it’s better to be prepared than get caught off guard. Remember that you’re interviewing them too, and you want to ask questions that will help you decide whether the job is a good fit for you.
Say thank you! One person suggested bringing thank you cards along to the interview and leaving them with the HR representative, front desk staff or other appropriate staff person. You can also mail or email a thank you note, just make sure to be prompt and sincere. Another tip is to be specific in your thanks – mention a detail that stuck out so they’ll remember you, but don’t use the thank you as a way to fill in your responses from the interview.
Make sure to reiterate that you do want the job! Express your sincere interest in the position not only through your knowledgeable questions, but also by stating it outright.
Here are a few more suggestions which only one or two people mentioned but are also fabulous:
- Understand your own story and tell it effectively: practice telling your story in bite-size snippets so that you have several examples you can easily draw upon during the interview.
- Strike a power pose: it instantly changes your body chemistry and your performance.
- Tell them why they need you: know what’s going on in the community or organization and illustrate how you can enhance their work.
Thanks to all who provided feedback to our survey – now go forth and get those jobs!