When looking for an internship or job, the interview is the one part of the job searching process that makes many of us uneasy. Saturday, October 25th was my first time attending FindSpark’s Find & Follow Your Passion Conference, and I’m so glad I did!
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Banares
The day was full of inspiration from informative panels, networking and opportunities to meet amazing peers. One of the awesome panel sessions I attended was Conquer Your Interview: The Importance of Confidence, Prep, and Personality. I made sure to attend this session because interviewing has always been a step in the job application process I struggled with. The panel featured the following all star creative professionals:
- Juan Martinez, Chief Communications and Advocacy Officer at GLSEN
- Joi (Brown) Pitts, Senior Vice President Marketing/Brand Partnerships at Atlantic Records
- Trevor Burkins, Communications Associate at NBCUniversal, Inc.
- Anna Suarez, Senior Brand Activation Manager at New York Magazine
- Bas van Koll, Creative Director at AKQA
During the panel, I learned 5 ways to conquer and ruin a job interview. Some may be obvious, and others not so much. Check them out to be better prepared to rock your next interview!
How to rock the interview:
1. Be human, be yourself & have confidence.
This first one is a no-brainer, but can easily be overlooked when preparing for an interview. I heard all the panelist mention that maintaining good eye contact, being confident and speaking clearly is something they always look for. So before you walk through that door into your next interview, take a deep breath and know everything is gonna be okay. Simply, do your best! Check out this great TED Talk on body language and confidence before your next interview.
2. Do your research, know the company & industry.
I know you’ve probably heard this one from your professors or career counselors before, but they’re absolutely right! This is a critical step to do before your next interview to give you the context you need to be more confident. Doing your research on the company and industry helps you connect the dots between your experience, the needs the company is looking for in the role you applied to, and context of the industry.
3. Your online brand should make your parents proud.
If you look around these days, many of us are taking selfies on Snapchat, sharing moments on Instagram, tweeting and scrolling through our Facebook feed. We’re pretty much always on or near our smartphones. Many employers are on social media as well and are pretty tech savvy, just like you. With that, you should make sure your online presence authentically showcases your brand. This doesn’t mean you can’t be yourself, just make sure you’re posting and sharing moments your parents would be proud of.
4. Ask relevant questions.
Before going into your next interview, make sure you prep questions to ask your interviewer. Questions could be related to what the employer expects of you and how are you going to help the company grow. Juan Martinez, one of the panelists, said that one of the best questions an interviewee asked him was, “after interviewing me for an hour, what are you most worried about with my performance?” This question shows that being aware and thinking outside the box a little bit can impress an employer.
5. Follow up appropriately.
After completing your interview, it’s always great to send a followup email thanking the employers who interviewed you. With that being said, it’s better to send that follow up between 24-48 hours after the interview. Try not to send it 30 minutes after your interview and come across the wrong way. Side note, if you don’t end up getting the position that you interviewed for, it’s great to still thank the employer and even ask what you could improve on for next time.
How to ruin the interview:
1. Lie! Please, don’t do it.
This is one of the worst things you could ever do in an interview or on your resume. Lying is not only wrong, it’s immoral and leaves a bad taste in recruiters mouths if you’re caught. Being your authentic self is the best approach to use any day.
2. Plagiarize or cheat.
This goes hand and hand with lying; just don’t do it. Joi Brown Pitts says she encountered this with a prospective candidate and was offended by what happened. She mentioned how the candidate purchased a copy of her marketing plan deck online and put his name on it. Let’s just say she took care of the situation in a professional manner and pretty much embarrassed the candidate.
3. Don’t confuse confidence with cockiness.
When you go into a job interview, it’s important to be confident with yourself to make the best first impression. However, being cocky and egotistical can be another turnoff for recruiters. Juan Martinez mentioned how he was turned off by a candidate during a phone interview because the interviewee said, “I’m a rock star in my space.” Juan says, “rather than telling me you’re a rockstar, let me decide that on my own.”
4. Thinking doors are closed if you don’t get the job.
It happens; once in a while we get that email that says we didn’t get the job. You know what? It’s okay, because we’re human and aren’t perfect. It’s actually a beautiful thing to make mistakes because that’s when you learn most. A couple of the speakers mentioned how emailing the person who interviewed you and asking them how you can improve for next time is totally fine. It shows that you take initiative and embrace to learn from your mistakes.
5. Having your phone or tablet out.
When you’re in an interview, please just turn your phone off and put it in your bag to avoid this from happening. Doing this is simply rude and shows that you don’t really care about the position.
What are some tips you would share with other young creatives about better preparing for interviews? We love hearing what you have to say so don’t hesitate to drop some comments.