Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Interviewing 101: Before the Interview

Last week, I was conducting interviews for a role that is open in my team. It's always interesting to be on the other side of an interview, where I am not the one answering all the questions and doing my best to impress. Trust me, I have been in that seat more than one in my career and I know it's not easy! But over the years and now having the opportunity to be on the other side of the table, I have picked up a few tricks here and there that I thought I would compose into several blog posts: Before the Interview, Day of Interview, After the Interview.

Before the interview it is important that you consider what are you trying to obtain applying for this role? Does this role align with your career goals and passions? I think that is so important to figure out first, before you pursue a role and apply for it.

For some of you, it may be an entry role to get into the company you've been wanting to work at or in the field that you went to college for. For others, it might be a promotion that you've been wanting. Now while the idea of getting the promotion for the increase pay sounds appealing, if the role doesn't align with your "why" in life, at some point the pay increase is not going to outweigh the stress or unhappiness you might experience. Sometimes a lateral move, although same pay, may prove to be a better career move in the long run. Sheryl Sandberg said it best in her book, Lean In, when she said that "Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder." Those are some wise words.

Do your homework. 
If you are looking into getting into a team or going down a different career path, meet with someone that is currently in that team or doing the job you want to do to a get day in the life. Sometimes what you think a job is like, really isn't like that in the real life. As the saying goes, "the grass isn't always greener on the other side".

When you meet the person, be thoughtful of their time and make sure that you come prepared with at least three questions to ask about their role/team. These meetings/conversations are so important, in my opinion, because they can either affirm that that is the right career move for you or make you realize that maybe it's not. Better to figure that out before than making the move and then regretting it.

Also, I can't tell you how many interviews I have conducted where the person I am interviewing clearly doesn't know what the role is about. Immediate turn off. If you don't know what the role is or the daily activities associated to the role, how do you know that you can do the job?

Resume reboot.
You should always keep your resume current. There are tons of resources online that can help you build a resume that perfectly captures your experience and skills. With that being said, I think it's also important to share your resume with a peer or mentor that can review it and share any thoughts.

When applying for a role, tweak your resume for that role. What do I mean by that? Look for keywords in the job description that you can add to your resume IF you have that skill or experience. Don't lie on your resume.

Finally, keep the resume to a one to two page max! Depending on where you are in your career, sometimes the starter jobs (ie. cashier/babysitter/pizza delivery) aren't necessary in the resume. If you have been in your career for a long period of time or have held several roles, keeping details of each role to three to four bullets.

Practice, Practice, Practice
Once you have secured an interview, practice. In front of a mirror. With a friend or family member. Practice what you are going say. Get comfortable with speaking to your resume. That interview time is your one opportunity to show why you are the best person for that role above all other candidates who are interviewing for that role. Practicing will help you work through any hiccups you have in message delivery and in turn build your confidence.

I hope this has helped you all a little. Next week, I will share part two of this series: Day of Interview.


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