I’ve read lots and lots and lots of blog posts dedicated to the art of interviewing for jobs. In fact, entire blogs exist to document the adventure.
Frustration has also rode my back, cackled in my ear and slapped my arse while I did the job-search-thing, and never more so than straight out of college. I assumed, like most recent graduates, that employers would throw money at my fancy pants degree. I’m so fantastic, they won’t be able to pay me enough.
Week 1: Applied for one, maybe two jobs at the most prestigious of companies. Waited patiently for said companies to drool over my resume and contact me with gifts, bribes and personal monkey slaves.
Week 2: Slightly dismayed, I sent courteous follow-ups and applied to a few more. I’ll just have to turn down their offers if they aren’t going to get back to me quickly (please hold your laughter until the end).
Week 3: Thoroughly dismayed and semi-broke, revamped my resume and shotgunned it to every opening in the USA. Sorry, not you Montana, you’re…….. Montana.
Week 4: Um, hello? Is anyone going to get back to me? Okay, maybe I just need to broaden my idea of the ideal job. I can use my math degree anywhere! “Sir, I wouldn’t stand there. I just mopped and that floor has 100% probability of being wet.”
I’ve had the chance over the past few weeks to interview job candidates and never have I learned more about interviewing than by being on this side of it. My oozing benevolence requires that I leak a few tips.
1. Do not say that you are seeking a “physically challenging job” when you are applying for a desk job. You didn’t read the posting. My only physical challenge is candy.
2. You might think you are soooo “on”. That you’re killing it. But interviewers can see right through canned/safe/traditional answers, especially if they aren’t your true inclination. And do you want to be another “hard worker” or “go-getter”? Or do you want to provide a unique experience that shows me those qualities?
8. If asked “What are your interests?” don’t ask that we come back to the question while you think about it, unless you are a robot.
A. Don’t get bullet-numbering wrong on your resume.
5. Don’t change your stance because it’s contrary to the interviewer. I interview with a coworker and we play good cop/bad cop, but in the same room. He is cold as ice, no smiles, no jokes, while I pretend every word out of your mouth is pure gold; you’re thrown off by his questions but never feel like you bombed because I act like an idiot.
Bad Cop: What is your ideal work environment?
Interviewee 1: I like to work in small groups.
Bad Cop: So it is a problem that we work in groups of 30?
Interviewee 1: Oh, 30 is still small. That is perfect.
Bad cop: Sometimes it is groups of 100.
Interviewee 1: I would still like that!
Good cop: Personally, I love small groups of 1000! High five!
Interviewee 2: I love that you guys are dressed so casual. My last company was really straight laced, all of them in shirts and ties.
Bad cop: It’s actually casual Tuesday.
Interviewee 2: Oh, well, I like dressing up too.
Good cop: Oh he’s kidding. It’s not casual Tuesday.
Interviewee 2: *nervous laugh* You almost had me, I was worried there.
Good cop: Yeah don’t worry. Today is Wednesday, right?
The take home lesson? Don’t back pedal. If you’re caught just once, we can’t trust your answers as anything but telling us what you think we want to hear.
6. Easily the most important point, so imagine I am putting my hand on your shoulder and gazing into your soul.
That sounds so incredibly stupid, like past things I have said, but “performing” for an interview is one of the easiest things to spot. The facade of “I’m the perfect candidate!” looks more like “Please don’t notice I suck”. But notice I do.
Remember that you are interviewing them, too.
You need to fit in. What if you’re nerdy? Own it. Don’t hide it. Expose yourself in all your nerd glory. Guess what? They wanted nerd-tastic.
And now, the best commercial ever produced: