I am not one to hate on advice of any kind. But I am so sick of seeing high end blogs repeat the same watered-down, cookie cutter advice on interviews. At this point in my life, I have heard the same “don’t be late”, “dress for success/impress”, “ask questions”, blah blah blah and this is common knowledge, not advice to help me get the job. Maybe at one time this was helpful, but if you aren’t “researching the company” and if you aren’t “smiling and being yourself”, just go home. You don’t deserve the job anyway.
Okay, that’s not very nice to say or hear, but come on. Let’s hear something that will actually set me apart from every other person that walks into the room.
1. Clean up your social media. This goes for any age, but it is tailored to a younger age who is not legal to drink/smoke. Anything you post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Myspace, Vine, etc etc etc can and will show up when you are Googled. Let me repeat to emphasize my point: YOU WILL BE GOOGLED. And don’t think setting your profiles to private will exempt you. An employer can log into her daughters Facebook and all of a sudden, your friend of a friend can see all your pictures and posts. A rule of thumb that I personally follow: if I don’t want my grandma to see it, I will not post it or I will remove it.
2. Review your resume. Sounds pretty “duh” but stick with me here. If you are in college, you probably have a major. If you are a junior/senior in college, you probably have a lot of classes just for that major. Some jobs/internships will ask about or look for certain skills or techniques you have mastered in classes. So for example, I am a Biotechnology Major (Genetic Engineering), we do PCR, Western Blotting, Electrophoresis, ELISA (HIV Testing), and more. These are basic knowledge for getting a Biotech Internship. Put these somewhere on your resume if you are going for that major-specific internship. Obviously, if you are applying anywhere that is not interested in these techniques, you are going to modify that resume. I personally have two resumes: one with my classes and techniques and one without.
3. Ask the 3 most important questions.
(I) Sometimes it might not come up in the interview because you are not “officially” hired yet, but knowing how much you are getting paid is pretty important to your own decision to take the job (or even if you are getting paid.)
(II) Asking what their idea of a potential candidate sounds impressive and may give you an idea of what else to talk about if you have something they are looking for.
(III)Try asking “is there anything about my resume that concerns you?” This may sound like a negative question to ask a potential employer, but hear me out: you sound mature to ask and take criticism on your resume. And if you don’t get this job, you just got some awesome feedback for the future.
4. Turn the interview into a flowing conversation. This piece of advice is from my pageant days. Let me give you an example: if someone asks you where you are from, ask a question in return: well do you know where *___BLANK___* is? And continue to answer the question from there. This creates a conversation instead of the typical awkward interview. This is what employers are looking for: someone who is real. Not rehearsed.
Example: Employer: Shelby, it says you are from Indiana, I am also from Indiana, what part are you from?
Shelby: Oh, do you know where Purdue University is? I am 45 minutes north from there.
This answers the question, while also providing information the employer can feed off of. (“I was a Purdue Graduate”, “I went to Indiana University”, “I am also from there!”) The possibilities are endless and sets you apart from the other interviews.
5. Follow up. A follow up is not always necessary, but it will definitely set you apart and remind them just who you are. Whether it is a handwritten thank-you note, a check-up on the hiring process, or giving them information you promised to “find out”, it will definitely make the company think about you for another minute and a half. A minute and a half more than the other candidates.
*Note: when you are asked a question that you do not know the answer to, reply that you are not sure at the moment, but you will get back to them with the right information. This is much more impressive than guessing or saying “I don’t know”. But the second you say that, it is wise of you to have the information before your fate is decided. Get back to them as soon as possible. After your interview go home and find out that answer.