The first crucial thing to accept is that job-seeking – if done well – is a challenging and time-consuming process. In the rarest of cases will an individual make just one job application, be accepted for an interview and land the job. The reality is that even the likes of Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and other celebrated individuals have experienced a whole lot of rejection throughout their careers.
The secret to the mindset for job-seeking success is to not be in a rush. When job searches are fueled by urgency, there’s potential for attempts to be undermined by cutting corners, taking unnecessary risks and feeling disheartened when things take time to work out. If you need a job quickly to pay the bills, sign up with an employment agency and get temporary contracts using skills you’ve honed at school or through your extracurricular interests.
Having a short-term income in place puts you in a comfortable position to apply for your dream jobs. And, what do you know, you’ve just been invited to an interview! Ignore the butterflies and enjoy these 7 tips to maximize your chances of mastering your next interview.
Try Being the Interviewer
There is simply no better way to improve your interview technique than by putting yourself in the shoes of an interviewer. The moment the ball is in your court, you have the control and clarity to assess the performance of other interviewees and get tips from what they did well. But you haven’t got a job to offer anyone, right? Make one up! You can role play with supportive family members or friends or put out a real ad for collaborators on a project that you’d like to set up. You cannot get more effective interview training, not to mention confidence-building, than by taking the reins and being the one with something valuable to offer.
This is the easiest one to miss if we are making applications to dozens of companies or in a hurry, but it is one of the real basics for getting an interview, right. Customizing is key for two obvious reasons: it is essential to not getting yourself eliminated from the list of potentials and secondly, customizing your answers in an interview is the surest way to up your chances of showing that you’re the right person for the job. This includes having a solid knowledge of the business you’re applying to, their past achievements and future plans, all of which can be gleaned from the company’s website as well as reports published online. There’s no better example of a professional intent on constantly doing their research than Oprah Winfrey, who in a 2014 interview at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, said that it’s important to “align your personality with your purpose.” Make the interview work for you and your potential employer, bringing your personality into it.
That said, being an interviewee also means you have plenty to offer. The trick is to figure out how you can be the most memorable candidate and demonstrate the significant value you can add to a company. Get a few ideas by exploring your chosen line of work: what are the newest sector trends? Is there some way that you could get first-hand experience of them, or even start a small initiative of your own? Adding value is a code word for “going the extra inch.” Ask yourself this: what have you done or could do that goes the extra inch in your profession? Then, figure out how could you package that and offer it to possible future employers as a bonus for them choosing you. Music Journalist Amanda Mester recently published a rejection letter on Twitter, shown from AdWeek – together with her reply, which effectively corrected its many grammar mistakes. While the company in question never changed its mind, this sort of approach offered an additional showcase for her writing and editing skills.
Motivation is Everything
A job worth having is not easily won. A 2013 study by InterviewSuccessFormula.com found that although 3.6 million job openings were available in 2012, about 80% were never advertised. This eyebrow-raising statistic should be reason enough to not lose heart if finding a dream job requires some serious digging. To keep your head above water when facing an interview, ensure that you keep motivation levels high – especially if your desired job happens to be in a niche sector. It took poker champion Eugene Katchalov almost 8 years to establish himself in his profession, cemented when he got an offer with Team PokerStars and became a household name. But throughout those years of uncertainty, he kept busy mastering his game, participating in tournaments and slowly climbing the industry’s ranks. “The first time I played, I wasn’t doing exceptionally well,” Katchalov remembers. “The most important thing is finding the right motivation for everything and then finding a way to not let that motivation slip away from you.” That certainly is solid advice.
Negotiate your Salary
The jury is still out on this one. Going out of your way to ask about money in an initial interview is not ideal, however, if you feel the talk has gone well, a straightforward question about the salary is completely legitimate. The best moment to ask is toward the end in the “have you got any further questions?” slot. As part of your interview preparation, ensure you have a clear idea of how much someone in your field, in your country and with your level of experience is paid on average. Once you learn what the salary would be, compare figures and if there is a discrepancy, do not make the error of settling: simply express your interest in negotiating the salary if you get an offer. Leave it at that, and should you be the selected candidate, the interviewers will be open to raising the original figure to get their dream employee!
Don’t be Put Off by Unusual Questions
Expect the unexpected. Although you should prepare for the classic interview questions, ensure you also mentally prepare yourself for the unusual ones. Many top of the range companies like Google are known to ask the most cryptic interview questions, but far from trying to frighten the life out of candidates, they use them as a tool to understand how they think. Therefore, rest assured that there is no right answer, but be prepared to see brainteasing questions as an opportunity to set out, in words, how you would tackle the issue. Have fun with it, stay confident and you’ll be fine.
Do You Like What You See?
Although it may be tempting to assume that the interviewers are the ones in the driver’s seat, try not lose sight of the fact that this is your career. During the interview, consider whether you would be happy to see and work with these individuals on an everyday basis. Rejecting an offer that’s good but “not quite right” is one of the toughest things you can do as a job-seeker but take heart: in your commitment to not settling, the chances of you growing as a professional and enjoying a fulfilling career are only increasing.
As much as excitement, necessity or any other such motivation might push you to rush off and try to bag a job in record time, resist the urge. Even if your interview goes extremely well and you get your dream position and salary, not being critical of the company itself or paying attention to any alarm bells that may have been set off during the application process will see you back at square one: stuck with a situation you don’t want to be in, and, looking for a new job. Therefore, take both time and care to get the process right, stay motivated and make honesty your policy. Do this and you’ll do justice by your possible future employers and also by yourself.
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Good luck in your search,