My personal experience with interviews

Photo Credit: bad-questions-clipart-1.jpg. Retrieved March 16, 2016

When I graduated from law school, like all my peers, I had to vie for limited places at prestigious legal firms that were willing to take pupils. The résumés were sent out and I went for a string of interviews. Every interview was different and I learnt to anticipate questions and adapt my answers accordingly.

Photo Credit: 19fzxnc94foqrjpg.jpg. Retrieved March 16, 2016

I had a memorable interview for my first job. There were 8 members in the organization all sitting in a row on one side of a conference table. The setting: a freezing, windowless room. One solitary chair positioned on the opposite side was vacant. It was meant for me! Did I walk into an interrogation? Three of the most senior-looking members started firing questions at me whilst the rightmost person (presumably the human resource manager) took notes. The questions were tough but they became platforms where I launched into passionate answers. I landed the job!

Photo Credit: We ❤ it. (2013, October 28). Retrieved March 16, 2016

My next few interviews were very different. One was in a café; another in a director’s office and yet another in the park! Not all of them were labeled interviews. I was called in for a ‘chat’ and I got the job!

I would not consider myself an expert by any means but there have been things I have learnt that have worked for me.

1) Preparation

  • Research and even stalk the organisation you are applying for. It is a two-way street so expect those who are interested in hiring you to look you up online too! Find out their past and current projects. Do your due diligence.
  • Find out the common questions that are asked in the industry and ask yourself those questions.
  • Bring your résumé and portfolio and make copies.
  • Discover their dress code.
  • Find out how to get there so you can be on time.
  • Know your own market value.
  • Write down the important questions you must ask.
  • Switch off your mobile phone before entering.
  • Remember that first impressions last!
Photo Credit: Be the best version of you.png, Retrieved March 16, 2016

2) Be the best version of yourself

Imagine that the interviewer is well versed in the art of body language and lie detection. It is never a good idea to massage the truth. Do not distort the facts. Do not fluff up and exaggerate. Skill is not the only thing a recruiter is looking for. Overpromising and underdelivering will never look good on you. Know what you are capable of and be genuine, authentic and positive. Be the best version of yourself.

3) Avoid negativity

  • Do not badmouth your own work.
  • Do not put yourself down or shortchange yourself.
  • Do not speak bad about past jobs.
  • Avoid showing that you are irritated or annoyed
  • Do not be defensive.

4) Have a thick skin and a Gung Ho spirit

Rejection can be good. Closed doors can steer one to open windows of opportunity and that is a very good thing.

5) That USP

What makes you different? What is your ‘X Factor’? Donald Trump knew how to reach his crowds. He had a Unique Selling Proposition. He defined his brand. He knew his audience and he spoke their language.

A personal brand carefully crafted can pique the interest of a recruiter. When all is equal amongst candidates, take this opportunity to be creative by demonstrating endearing attributes. Be the one who is remembered (in a good way).

6) Your chance to shine

  • Be professional at all times
  • Demonstrate a good work ethic
  • Show projects you are currently working on unless it is a breach of confidentiality (in which case, don’t).
  • Show you are enthusiastic and that you keep up to speed with current industry trends and practices.

7) The subconscious networker

The café management around the corner from my rented apartment changed hands recently. I enjoyed the food and the ambience and made my approval known. The owner got wind of this and we started chatting. To cut a long story short, I am now his favoured customer. I patronise his establishment regularly and I get preferential treatment. He even casually asked me if I was interested in designing a mural for his wall. He joins me for a coffee and as patrons enter, he points out to me who got laid off, who is a headhunter and what is happening in the neighbourhood! He also explains to me how he hires and fires staff. I kept it real and made a friend. What you see is what you get and that is how I have consistently branded myself. You can never really know where and when that next job opportunity may arise. I got most of my jobs through networks and by being me. This is my reminder to always build rapport and goodwill.

Does anyone have any additional cool tips to add?


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