Friday, May 7, 2010

Interview Tips for my Daughter

Anyone out there have kids interviewing for jobs? Below is what I wrote for my daughter last night as she was preparing for a big interview today. Perhaps it was my seven months at, or perhaps it was my two layoffs in four years and six months of job hunting between each... but I felt an obligation to share a little wisdom with my sprout the publicist. Just for fun I've included a photo of my size six interview suit when I got my job at Bowker in 2000. (I've landed four jobs since then... without being a size six.)

For an in-person interview you usually speak to several people. The first will be in Human Resources. Manage your responses and questions appropriately for their relation to you - things about the company more than the job, things about your attitude in general, work ethic, etc. That's where you'll get the forms to fill out. Then, if you meet their criteria, you'll get passed along to the hiring manager (your boss) and possibly, if you pass theirs and they love you and are in a hurry to hire, your boss' manager. Though this step normally occurs in the second interview. At your level there will likely be no more than two.

Here are some great general interview tips for you:

1. Stay "on" every minute. Every stranger in the hall that you pass, receptionist - they are ALL interviewing you in one way or another so always be super cool with everyone. Shake hands confidently when you introduce yourself. You want to be the one they all want to hang with at the office.

2. Be curious. Remember to ask about the job as well as answering their questions about you. After they're done telling/ asking what they have to say, ask things about your daily responsibilities, what percentage of time will be spent doing X, how many on your team, how many authors will you be working with (or something else relevant to the position - I don't know what that might be). And try asking anything you can think of about something you learned about the company on their website. "I noticed you have operations in Germany. Will I be working with any German authors?" you get the idea. These show you're thinking and smart - not just "I'll take any job."

3. Take notes. If you want to do that, just ask in the beginning of the interview if they mind if you take notes (they never will) and be prepared with a small pad and pen for whenever they give details about your job or the company. Write down something personal they say, or particular about the job that you did not know. (You can use this in your Thank-You note.) This will impress them - but don't do it if you don't want to.

4. Tell stories - Paint pictures. The interviewer is trying to picture you fitting in there - so tell stories of your experiences that will help her/him paint a visual picture of you doing things in their company. You've told me many stories about your authors, Joan, etc. that I know would work fine. Use the stories in response to their questions.

They may ask about your greatest achievement... again, a nice story is great, so have two or three stories prepared depending on the type of questions they might ask. Don't memorize them - just recall what happened and have it in your back pocket.

Common interview questions (with some thoughts on responses):

1. What is the biggest obstacle you ever had to overcome at work... and what did you do about it? Imagine your worst day when everything was going wrong and how you pulled it all together and became Joan's hero. They will picture themselves needing a hero like you.

2. What do you hate doing? Be honest but careful - a good answer might be, sometimes I have to wait to release information to the media because the timing is not right. That frustrates me because I'd prefer to get the news out as soon as possible. But I understand that the correct timing is more important than early timing some times. You get the idea.

3. What do you enjoy doing most? (try to think of something other people might hate!)

4. What is your strongest point? (again, make this something they may have trouble finding in others)

5. What is your greatest weakness? (common o.k. answers are: perfectionist, or, maybe more appropriate - I get very excited about work and come across more enthusiastically than I may want to - I think I'm supposed to be professional and subdued... fyi: of course they love enthusiasm.

6. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I want to be a top publicist eventually - write releases, (pick a couple of other responsibilities), maybe travel with authors (?). I am hoping to make my next move, now, to a company that can provide that kind of longevity and growth for me.

Ask "When can I expect to hear from you again?" or "How soon do you plan to make your decision?" Let them know you are really eager.

Everyone knows this is a game... but if you don't know, and you don't play, something's wrong with you (they assume) and you won't get the job. This way they'll say, "Ahhh! she knows these rules, so she probably knows all the other rules too - like how to get her job done."

I know you can do this job and that you deserve to be paid much more than you are. Just relax, smile, experience every moment... Be present ; )

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great advice! Wish someone had given it to me when I was applying for jobs!