How to interview for a professional job


I’ve been out of the job market for a while and I’ve also been out of the HR / interview part of our business long enough to actually be surprised with how poorly college students are prepared or even informed about how to interview for a professional role. If you are looking for a job, I hope this helps.

1. Always dress professionally. Always. There is absolutely no excuse: not the weather, not the company, not the job title, not the connection you have or the area that you live in.

2. Find out what the company does before you go in. Nothing screams I don’t really give a damn like not even checking out the company before you head in for an interview. You don’t have to read the 10K but you have to know the company mission and have at least a basic idea of who the people interviewing you are.

3. Try not to act like an entitled millennial. Job interview is not the time to start haggling over pay, benefits, time off. It’s also not a good idea to ask for the corner office. The purpose of the job interview is to figure out if you are a fit and an opportunity for you to sell yourself to the company for the role you want. Make them want you. Once you actually have an offer in hand is a time to haggle.

4. Ask actual work related questions. Every person I have ever interviewed wanted to know about the perks, the flexibility, the time off. I understand that is really important to you. But you haven’t gotten the job yet. Ask about the company. Ask about other employees. Ask about the company future. You know how so many job interview sites train you to answer “Where do you want to be in 5 years?” – how come a single candidate didn’t think to ask that of the person interviewing them?

5. Ask for a tour, show interest. Don’t take the HR process for granted, these people actually work for the company you are interviewing for. Ask questions about the work environment – fast paced or slow? How often do you stay after 5PM? How many hours a week do you typically put in? Do people ever get together outside of work? Where do you go for lunch? Ask actual questions that go beyond the role-responsibility-company that is going to be spelled out for you anyhow.

6. Bring your resume. Bring your references. Bring your portfolio if you’ve got one. Bring your collateral. Bring your relevant course schedule. It seems that everyone has gotten the memo about a resume being a one page affair. Fantastic. It got you in the door. What else can you show me so I don’t have to fill in the blanks myself? The more you leave up to my imagination and judgment the worse.

7. Do not reschedule. If you can’t even keep it together before I’ve met you…

8. Answer questions completely, fully and honestly. Interview questions are your opportunity to talk, explain and sell why you should get the job. If you just provide short answers that makes my list of questions mighty short because I figure you’re hiding something.

9. Show up early. Show up at least 30 minutes before your scheduled interview. Odds are, you’ll waste at least 10 of those trying to figure out where to park, how to get to the office, sign in with security, etc. What do you do with the other 20 minutes? Drive around the office and figure out where you will have your lunch. Is there a nearby daycare. Is there a bar in the walking distance? How about a post office or Kinko’s or anything else that you forsee yourself needing to do on your lunch break. If the office is in the middle of nowhere and you have a 30 minute lunch and have to drive 15 minutes to the closest Wendy’s…

I hope this helps you. Listen, the odds are against you in the current employment environment so, no matter how much you may hate it, you have to sell yourself. You already have their interest, keep on offering reasons why you would be a valuable asset for the company. For every position we offer we get well over 1,000 candidates. Of those about 900+ are immediately dismissed – so that gives you less than 10% chance that you’ll even get a phone call and less than 1% chance that you’ll actually get a job offer out of it. 

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