I’m lucky to have found my dream job right out of college, so it’s been a long time since I’ve been in an interview myself. However, I’ve learned my best interview tips from being on the other side of the table, as the interviewer. In my role, I interview quite a few people for a variety of positions, and there are definitely some do’s and don’ts I’ve learned as part of that. Here are my top 7 tips.
1. Do Your Research
One of my initial questions in any interview is, “Why do you want to work here?” as I’m always trying to see how much the interviewee knows about our company, our culture and our clients. I’m looking for someone who talks about why they want to be at my company specifically, as opposed to simply in the industry or at a marketing firm in general.
Huge bonus points go to anyone who can reference recent blog posts they’ve enjoyed, company announcements they saw or general other fun things they may have seen on our social accounts. We’re seeking people who feel passionate about wanting to join our team, not just find a job.
2. Be On Time
To be honest, I’m surprised I even have to write this, but in recent interviews, I’ve noticed that a really large percentage of interviewees have been a few minutes late! I know we all run late now and then, but an interview is something you definitely want to be on time for; in my opinion, 5 minutes early is the magic time to arrive. If you’re unfamiliar with the area or the parking situation, I’d suggest either scoping it out a day or two in advance, or getting there really early and mapping a coffee shop nearby to pass the time. This is actually what I do when I’m pitching new clients.
If the worst happens and you are going to be a few minutes late, make sure you call to let the interviewer know. On the flip side, there is such a thing as too early. If you’re more than 10 minutes early, hang out outside for a bit. The key here is that you just want to be respectful of the interviewer’s time.
3. Be Ready With Stories & Examples
For me, it’s really important that I connect to someone in an interview. At Pyxl, skills are important, but culture is even more so. We’re looking for a specific type of person — someone who’s thoughtful, collaborative, a self-starter and a true problem-solver — so I always ask situational questions to help me gauge this.
In advance of your interview, plan out some stories you might be able to share — stories about a challenging problem you were able to solve, about a project you collaborated with a team on, even a situation in which you failed but learned from. The only thing you don’t want to do with these types of stories is throw blame elsewhere. Own the situation and its outcome.
4. Find Ways to Tie All of Your Experience to This Role
One of my very best hires had been a preschool teacher immediately prior to joining our company. While she had some previous marketing experience, I was blown away by how she was able to tie all of her experience, including her role as a preschool teacher, to the role she was interviewing for. To me, it showed a level of thinking beyond what many other interviewees came to the table with.
Even if you don’t feel truly qualified for your dream job due to experience or lack thereof, find ways to connect all of your life experiences to the role you’re interviewing for. Many technical skills can be learned, but being able to really sell yourself and showcase your thought process is something that will make you stand out.
5. Be Confident Yet Authentic
It’s really easy to tell when someone’s being fake in an interview. Likewise, an interview can be really uncomfortable for everyone involved when the interviewee lacks confidence. So be yourself, make eye contact, and be honest in your answers. Remember to breathe, and take pauses to think when necessary.
At the same time, don’t go overboard when it comes to confidence; there’s nothing I hate more than a cocky asshole in an interview. Talk to me like you’re talking to a friend. Be authentic. Be yourself. As I mentioned above, skills are important but many can be learned; one of the things I really need to see in an interview is who you are as a person.
6. Ask Insightful Questions
I absolutely hate when I ask if the interviewee has questions and they have none. It shows indifference. So, prior to your interview, prepare a few questions you’ll want to ask. Some may get answered along the course of the interview, so be sure to have backups. A few of my favorites to answer include:
- What’s your favorite thing about working here?
- What’s the culture like?
- What does an average day look like for this position?
- Where do you see the business going in the next five years?
7. Email a Thank You Note
After the interview, email your interviewer a thank you note. I know many people prefer the handwritten and mailed note, but the challenge with this option is that it often will take longer to get to me than I would take to make my decision to hire someone or not. For that reason, I always suggest email. It’s quick, and still thoughtful. Plus, I work in digital marketing, so I’ll never fault someone for going the digital route.
What are your top interview tips?