When we all enter the workforce, we all look forward to scoring our absolute dream job! Whether you want to start your own business or run an international corporation, the time and energy we put into building our careers can become mundane, and interviewing for (what feels like) thousands of jobs can be exhausting. Coming from a hiring manager, I’m sharing my tips that I use when seeking a new role and factors that help me decide who to hire.
Early in my career, I thought it was almost a requirement to wear a black two piece suit and white button up to job interviews, but then I’d see candidates in the same “uniform” going in and out of the same interview. I quickly learned your first impression isn’t just your resume and handshake, but also your style. It should reflect who you are and what you bring to the table, especially if you’re in the creative field. As a marketer who hires marketers, it’s so important that I not only hear someone going to bring new and fresh ideas to our business, but that they can present themselves as creative and forward thinking. Patterns, different suit colors, and clean lines are a great place to start with standing out from the crowd.
Your resume is your first impression before you even get a call for an interview. As a hiring manager, I’ve received so many BAD resumes that have great jobs on them, but are hard to understand, have typos, or use a horrible design that takes away from the purpose. Try to keep your resume with a clean look, but avoid standard templates that anyone can create. Try to put your personality and expertise on paper, and express what you bring to the table. Try to think differently and omit anything that isn’t relevant, including your personal address, graduation year if you’ve been out of school more than five years (and especially remove high school if you have a college degree), and focus your job descriptions on keywords that help you land the job. One great way to stand out is to use a font other than computer standards like arial and times new Roman, but keep away from decorative fonts that distract from who you are.
It’s important to be prepared for your interview in more ways than you’d think. Take a look at the company’s website to understand their business. Look up the leadership team, their biographies and learn about who’s interviewing you. Bring ideas of what you can bring to the role based on what you’ve observed. And finally, bring at least five non-common questions to the interview about the job, the company, and the expectations. Make sure they’re not the typical “what the benefits/salary?” or “What do you do?”. One of my former hires was hired because they brought great questions to their interview and asked “What goals do you hope the employee in this position will achieve?” and “What does the average day in this role look like?” You’re not only being interviewed, but remember you’re also interviewing them to make sure this is a role YOU want and deserve.
We’re all nervous walking into an interview with someone you’ve likely never met before, but remember that we’re all humans and we all feel a little pit in our stomach. You have to walk into an interview with confidence and show that you know what you’re talking about. Be conscious of body language, and avoid anxiety triggers, like shaking your leg, sitting without proper posture and looking around the room. Create eye contact with your interviewer, keep a relaxed position and keep your attitude positive. I once interviewed a highly qualified candidate for a job, but ended up passing her up because she completely lacked confidence in what she was saying and doing, which didn’t instill me with the confidence that she could do the job. Remember that your goal is to prove to the person in front of you that you’re capable of doing the job above and beyond their expectations, and that they should have faith that you are a positive addition for their business.
The best compliment I’ve ever received from a boss is hearing that I was the best hire they’ve ever made in their 20 year career, and that’s what everyone should hear in their role. When I went in to interview to become a marketing manager, I was 25 years old and only had a few years of experience under my belt. I knew I was more than capable of doing the job, but based on the job requirements, they were looking for someone significantly more advanced than me in their careers. When I was called for an interview, I was beyond nervous, but knew with a little confidence, I could nail this job.
When I walked into the interview, I opted for a skinny trouser, nude heals, black blazer, and a silk colored blouse, which I felt like set me apart with a slightly higher fashion look, but still very professional. During my interview, I brought a nice designer leather bag with me that contained my portfolio and copies of my resume on nice linen paper in case the interviewer needed it. I always make sure any employees I interact with or pass get a warm smile and hello from me to show that I am friendly and warm to all. Once I sat down with the interviewer, I was informed that I may meet with others (later finding out in my role that the first interviewer is the filter and brings in other managers if they feel like they’re a good enough candidate). In the process, I got mostly general questions, and the second interviewer was more in depth with role specific questions.
Finally, they brought in the general manager, which I learned is the final interview level and ultimately only sees the top most qualified candidates. He only asked me one question – “what do you think we should change about our website?”. Having done my research, I was able to give a very specific explanation and outline of what I would do in the role AND I offered insight as to what results I would want to see achieved through a new website. In the end, my ability to have clear, confident communication, as well as speak to the research I had done, landed me the job and now at 27 years old, the same effort has opened the door for me to promotions and growing my team.
All of this is achievable and holding yourself to a standard higher than others your competing against for a role can bring you that dream job sooner than you thought.