How to Ace a Job Interview…Tips from an Interviewer’s Perspective.

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We all know job interviews are terrifying. Just as many people have admitted they would rather die than speaking in front of an audience, same goes for interviewing for a job. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel as though I sweat more during a job interview than when I am jogging. The whole process is extremely terrifying, but it is something we all have to do. I am going to alleviate some of this fear and excess sweating, by listing several important tips I have learned as a practice interviewer.

FIRST, PRE-INTERVIEW PREPARATION:

1. Don’t lose sleep

The night before is literally the same feeling as the night before an exam or flight. You toss and turn, your mind is running, you keep thinking about the worst, you panic, you can’t breathe. This is where you have to stop yourself and say, there is nothing you can do about it right now, it is midnight, let your mind sleep. We all know sleep is very important, so make sure to go to bed at a decent time so you have at least 7 hours of sleep.

2. Wake up Confident

After all the chaos your mind and body dealt with before you finally fell asleep, you deserve to feel good about yourself as you begin your morning prior to the interview. Give yourself a pep talk and remind yourself of all the good qualities you have. Don’t start panicking and thinking about flaws or convincing yourself you are not good enough because you are only lying to yourself. You wouldn’t want someone to lie to you, so why lie to yourself?

3. Put on your best outfit

Make sure to pick out an outfit you feel confident in. It could either be a really nice shirt, a nice pair of pants or skirt. You can even have a pair of socks which are your lucky socks or something like that. It doesn’t matter as long as you have some extra support and comfort from your closet. Studies show that dressing to impress can definitely elevate confidence levels. Go out there looking like the next James Bond or Audrey Hepburn and get that job.

4. Be on time

Being on time is so important. It is better to be early than late. Be sure to set your alarm on time and have everything ready for the morning so you have less running to do. Being on time is also a very important way to show you are reliable.

NOW, THE INTERVIEW IN QUICK STEPS:

The first moments are crucial. The way you walk in and present yourself makes a big impression on the interviewer, so be sure to do these few things carefully in order to make a good impression:

1. Posture

you want to make sure you are walking into the room with confidence. Having a good posture enhances your confidence and makes you feel powerful. Trust me, it works.

2. Smile

A smile is a huge indication that you are friendly, confident and interested. Smiling is a great way to calm your nerves, because smiling increases dopamine levels, allowing you to feel and present confidence. #Science

3. Shake and introduce

It is important to do these two steps in unison. Reaching out your hand and firmly shaking the interviewer’s hand while introducing yourself loudly and clearly shows you are taking action first. You are showing confidence and allowing yourself to open up the conversation with a kind, professional gesture, instead of holding back and waiting for the interviewer to introduce themselves first.

4. Eye contact is everything

It is very important to make as much eye contact as you can. Having good eye contact shows confidence, attentiveness, and respect. Eye contact also shows trust. They say if someone is looking around and making little eye contact they are not being true to themselves as well as possibly not being honest.

5. Don’t slouch

It is important to sit upright and not slouch. Please don’t have your legs open or have your arms crossed, these are two signs you are not being professional nor are you taking the interview seriously. The more proper you are as ladies and gentlemen, the more professional you will look to the interviewer.

6. Prepare questions

It is extremely important to come to the interview with several written questions. You can Google some “interview questions” in case you are stuck, bring at least one interview question, it counts as interviewers find this preparation piece very authentic. It shows you put time into preparing for your interview.

7. Do your research

It is important that you research the company, position you are applying for and the interviewer. You have plenty of time to do a little research and write down some bullet points to keep as a reference in case you become nervous. It helps to know a little information about the interviewer too because it will allow them to share their experiences as well. As humans, we enjoy talking about ourselves, so spice up your interview a bit by directing attention to the interviewer.

8. Make a proper exit

Make sure once the interview has ended that you properly thank the interviewer, shake their hand firmly, smile and exit with confidence.

A little side note: always be yourself and don’t be superficial. As humans, we can smell out a superficial person. The interviewer will see right through you if you are fake. Just be true to yourself, be honest and take the time to make a good impression. Good luck!

Getting to “Hell Yes”: Negotiating While Female

This post is brought to you as part of the coverage for the Grace Hopper Celebration, in Houston TX.

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“You get what you incentivize”

The basis for a successful negotiation is all rooted in a methodical and well-planned approach. Leading off with a chestnut about Richard Nixon and his dog Checkers, as a cautionary note on how not to negotiate, Katherine Monson and Becca Dewey delivered an informative and entertaining session on effective ways for women to approach the bargaining table. The story of Nixon feeding his dog a biscuit as a way to stop him from chewing on the corner of the carpet, framed the discussion that negotiating is a process where success can be thwarted by rewarding unwanted behavior.  In Nixon’s case, as declared by his exasperated Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, all he did was teach his dog to chew carpet.

Calling on their experiences as negotiators for the aerospace, defense and entertainment industries, the speakers broke down the complex process in several understandable steps, relevant in salary negotiation or every day life.   Though the audience was mid-career women in technology they added that these concepts are applicable to anyone at any stage of their careers.

Avoiding the trap – Bargaining

When it comes to the concept of bargaining, two parties meet on some arbitrary level to achieve a stated position (Think buying a car). If this process gets prolonged it only incentivizes the most stubborn or deceitful.  For women engaged in positional bargaining, they can be perceived as selfish, pushy or greedy, which does not maximize value for anyone.

Negotiation is a framework with the goal towards solving problems, and women are just as successful as men when they choose to negotiate.  What does that look like beyond a back and forth bargaining session?  It starts with research and identifying what your interests are ahead of time. If you don’t know what your interests are then how will you know when you’ve been successful?

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“K&B Negotiation.  2016”

Interests – What do you care about?

Visualize negotiating as an iceberg and focus on the unseen part, below the water.  The stated positions (the part of the iceberg you can see) don’t explain why people are at the bargaining table and this lack of data can lead to unwanted results. By thinking about interests ahead of the process it provides a clearer picture of priorities (buying a house, saving for children’s education, vacations, etc)  and creates more options from which to build solutions.

With interests itemized you can then learn more about your counterparts by asking questions on their position. A helpful phrase to use in these discussions would be, “Can you help me understand…?”   or “What am I missing here?”. Depending on the situation, this could be an effective means of working with your counterpart to reach a solution, through talking about desired interests. Just make sure to clarify this is a separate stage of the negotiation and not the end point.

BATNA 

If the process reaches a point where both parties are not able to reach a suitable agreement there is a measure to help identify when it’s best to walk away. BATNA, or Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement is the point where one or both parties understand that not reaching an agreement is more desirable than reaching one. The indicator can be if a salary range or package offered will only generate bitterness or falls far short of accomplishing set goals. In those cases, maybe the status quo is the better deal.

For women, the speakers warned to watch out for the gender trap. “Women are socialized to work with people and be more empathetic. If you’ve invested a lot of time to talk and negotiate you may be tempted to fall into the trap of “take a deal, any deal!”  If that’s a situation you find yourself in, take a pause and assess if the conversation needs to continue.

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“K&B Negotiation.  2016”

ZOPA

If both parties are able to articulate their goals and work towards a solution the next step is finding the ZOPAZone of Possible Agreement.   The ZOPA is a combination of variables that both parties are able to achieve to close the deal.  They may look something like taking a lower salary increase in lieu of receiving a deferred compensation plan, that provides revenue streams for retirement or children’s schooling, adding paid time off or subsidized transportation.  This is where due diligence and interest planning ahead of time come in handy, because it enlarges the pie to develop more opportunities.

Remember, negotiating is a process and takes time and energy to develop those skills. If you would like to learn more, take a look at the additional resources below.  If you would like to connect with Katherine and Becca, they can be reached at k.bnegotiation AT gmail.com.

Recommended Readings

 

Derek Cameron is the Employer Outreach and Partnership Manager for Northeastern University Career Development. When he’s not connecting with employers or blogging he’s trying to negotiate with his 6-month old daughter.

Twitter! Your Networking Secret Weapon

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The pinnacle of my college networking experiences came in the form of tea in New York City with a writer from my favorite magazine. I slipped away from my final semester for a week to network while I could still use the whole “college student figuring out what I want to do with my life” excuse to ask for people’s time. What my career counselor found to be most miraculous about this particular informational interview was not that I was fortunate enough to have it, it was how. In retrospect, my request was quite long-winded and ridiculous. Journalists, I have found, are a laid-back, friendly bunch, though I was too intimidated at the time and could only muster formalities. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My first ever tweet had something to do with the frozen vegetable medley I made with dinner, complete with a hashtag I can’t remember. While that account no longer exists, I filled it with 140-character bursts of millennial genius while latching onto every word Bret Easton Ellis and Nikki Sixx tweeted, and used it to catch up with my internet friends. Everybody starts somewhere. When I got my own radio show on WRBB, I created a Twitter account to promote it and the local musicians I spun and interviewed on-air. Twitter continued to prove a worthwhile tool during an internship with ‘stache media/RED Distribution when I began using the same account to post content about larger/more well-known music artists, which were subsequently shared by said artists, venues, and record labels. Tweeting mostly about music, I began having some semblance of clout. And then one Friday, I tweeted #FF (for #FollowFriday, where the goal is to call attention to accounts worth paying attention to) and listed every writer I could find from my favorite magazine. Most of them ignored it, two of them favorited it, and one followed me back. After we started engaging with each other’s posts, I felt comfortable enough to ask him for his email address and sent a request to meet up for an informational interview the next time I was in New York. This was a few years ago, and his family and I keep in touch.

I share this now with the intent to provide basic guidelines for how one can create one’s own experiences and foster meaningful connections (that can turn into friendships) through Twitter. Social networks, after all, are called “networks” for a reason.

Understanding Twitter’s True Value

My favorite thing about Twitter is how accessible people are — the writers, the celebrities, the executives, the Forbes 30 Under 30. On LinkedIn, you need to be a certain degree to a person in order to message him/her, but with Twitter, you can reach out to anyone. Not only does Twitter provide an opportunity to engage with people on a more personal level, it allows you to keep up with industry trends and happenings in real time.


building-up-strong-connections-on-twitterFinding Ideal Contacts

Interested in working at a specific company?
Follow everyone you can who lists employment at your dream company in their bio. Engage with them about the professional content they post (taking interest in the personal life of someone you’ve never interacted with is creepy). As with anything, being overzealous isn’t appealing — liking or retweeting every tweet your ideal connection posts isn’t going to make a good impression. Instead, share a link to an article or video this person posted and include his/her handle at the end with “via @username.” If he/she wrote an article, tweet the link, tag the person, and write about the value it gave you.

Trying to break into a specific field? Find out who the influencers are by following industry publications and those who write for them. The more time you spend reading up on an industry, the more informed you are of real world applications, trends, and executives. When you engage with potential contacts, you’ll come across as someone who pays attention.

Establishing Your Voice & Rules of Engagement (Don’t be a sycophant)

  • Notice what your potential contacts tweet and how they do it. Of course, don’t curse or get political (even if they do), but, given your field, emojis can be acceptable here.
  • Be a human, not a robot. People like authenticity, not those who are all business, so don’t be afraid to intersperse personal tidbits in your posts. Big sports fan? Tweet about the game. Went to a concert one night? Share a photo.
  • When sharing content about your field, tag all those involved and always give credit when and where it’s due.
  • If you’re not knowledgeable about something, be resourceful and do some research. If you don’t know where to start, tweet to an influencer: “Not too familiar with this but would love to learn. Who are your favorite writers on the subject? What websites do you recommend I look at?” If you show an interest in learning, people are apt to respond in your favor.
  • Do NOT “troll” people, start arguments, rant about a bad day you’re having, or subtweet (passive-aggressive hints at a problem or frustration without directly mentioning the issue).

Twitter can be a great networking tool if you take advantage of the platform and create opportunities for yourself. Who knows who you’ll click with and where it could lead? Remember, you can’t control whether people respond to you, but you can control your approach.

A graduate of Northeastern with a degree in English, Ashley previously was the News Director and a DJ for WRBB 104.9 FM, the university’s student-run radio station. When she’s not working at Apple, she writes for music blogs and builds her marketing portfolio. Informational interviews, cooking and rock & roll are some of her favorite things. Tell her what you’re listening to via Twitter @amjcbs or connect with her on LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/in/amjcbs).