May and June are pretty heavy for job hunting, with people leaving school or being phased out at the end of the financial year. They also might finally be making good on their New Year’s resolutions… you get the gist.
Having sat on both ends of the interview table now, I’m starting to see why it’s so difficult. On the one hand, you have a seemingly endless pool of qualified candidates and you want to give them all a shot. On the other—you desperately want to get a job, preferably at a company that doesn’t kill your soul.
In this climate, mistakes get made all the time… But try not to make these ones.
DON’T lie in your resume.
People do actually read all those forms you submit and they do scrutinise them carefully. Even if a team is trying to fill a skills gap, they will have someone on the selection panel who knows their stuff. They will be able to tell if you have genuine experience in something, or if you are lying, so don’t run the risk of being caught.
DO be honest.
Hand on my heart, I can say a good team will prefer someone who is honest and imperfect over someone who is a polished spin artist. If you got an interview despite your lack of certain experience, it means they are interested in what you’ve got. So use that time to show you are reliable and you will get the job done.
DON’T cut corners on interview preparation.
Nothing stops you from researching your potential employer, understanding what they do, and reading what has been written about them and their projects in independent press. You don’t have to have encyclopedic knowledge, but it’s not a good look if you show up not knowing what the company does.
DO role-play some possible question scenarios beforehand.
There will be things that are specific to each interview, but most panels will ask you: about your motivations for applying, your track record of solving problems, your ability to cope under pressure, and your job-specific skills. Get a friend, get a notebook, think through some examples, and then practice talking about them. At the very least, it reduces the anxiety of having to come up with examples on the fly, particularly if you are just starting out your career.
DON’T slag off your current team.
Even if your job at the moment isn’t all that great, there are ways to say you’re not a good fit for the company without slinging mud at your colleagues. At best, the hiring panel has no need for the information, because it doesn’t tell them anything about your ability to do the job. At worst, they will have serious reservations about whether you will work well with others.
DO use your own data to your advantage.
Don’t just tell people you kind of sort of did well at your last job. Tell them what targets you were working towards, how often you hit them, how often you exceeded them, and if you exceeded them, by what margin that was. Tell them about big projects you led, that would not have happened otherwise. Be specific. Use numbers. Show them that you know your stuff and that you know your worth. Companies that don’t like self-confidence are not the places for you.
DON’T be rude to support staff.
This is especially true for small companies and start-ups, where everyone does everything, but also for life itself. If you think the only people that matter are the ones on your interview panel, you are in big trouble. Support staff is made up of the people who keep the place going, and you would be expected to treat them with respect. (Conversely, if the interviewers are rude to the administrators/porters/security staff? Run, run, and don’t look back.)
DO remind yourself that it is all a learning curve.
If you don’t get the job, it’s because it’s a bad fit. There is a position out there that is just right for you, that will help you grow and develop, and open doors that are not available to you now. Say “thank u, next”, collect any feedback that you think is necessary, and get back up there with the job search. As with other things in life, slow and steady wins the race.
Good luck, and happy hunting.
Featured Image via Shridhar Gupta on Unsplash