#1: UTILIZE YOUR NETWORK! AGAIN: UTILIZE YOUR NETWORK! AGAIN: UTILIZE YOUR NETWORK!
Not just to get a job, but to find out everything you can about their industry and their company. It's some really easy and effective research AND it gives you face-time. So... if you are reading this and you're still a student: Get networking NOW! And HARD! It is work, it really is. But if you don't do it, you won't have a job later on. Entry level positions are usually hired from within... BE IN! Unless you're happy to be a burger flipper with a degree. Right now, you think it's nerve-recking to get the internship you want, or to just get an internship at all - wait until you have to do this for real! Start preparing now, build that network! And if you've graduated and are in my shoes: It's not to late to build a network. It's harder now because you're later in the game, but it's doable. Start now. The sooner you build it, the sooner you'll get a job.
#2: WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE
There it is. This is the Amazon link. Twelve bucks will give you the most valuable advice. Read it before you graduate. Have a plan to hit your job search running. Your job search should be a real job. Have a plan and a strategy and tactics. And know your objective, which is the job you really want. And don't stray from it. Don't settle for less. Know what you're worth. Because this is where you work to land the job you REALLY want... not just the next best thing.
#3: KNOW EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT THE COMPANY - FOR REAL!
Now that you're smart and you know how to look for the job you want, you have to make sure you get it. So when you go on that interview, be really prepared. I mean, prepare the hell out of it! Going on their website and reading every single word of it is only the first step in your preparations. It is your full-time job to know everything possible about that company, the open position, and the person interviewing you. You go into that interview and you know more about them than they do. You know their employees and what they do, and how that relates to the job you're applying for, you know their clients, their partners, their alliances, their goals, their aspirations, their work ethic, you've read every single press release, everything in the media, you know what search results come up on google, you know their skeletons in the closet... I mean EVERYTHING! If you're not willing to do that, you probably don't have a passion to work there in the first place.
I went to a PR and marketing panel last semester, and one of the professionals on the panel, a PR professional working at Rogers and Cowan (a huge entertainment PR firm in LA for those who are not well versed in entertainment), said that she went to interview for her job and she knew she wanted to be at Rogers and Cowan (who doesn't?!). So she went into that interview and she knew all their clients, and what exactly they did for those clients, and she knew every conceivable detail. And they told her she got the job because she knew all those things and that showed them that she really cared and knew what to know. She could start the job running.
Along those lines, take two minutes to watch this video. It answers the question: "Why do you want to work here?" You better ace this one - IT'S A TRICK QUESTION!
"WHY DO YOU WANT TO WORK HERE?" - WATCH YOUR ANSWER BELOW:
What does that mean? I've read a job column in the OC Register the other day that my trusted ex-PR professor-turned-mentor gave me. It was written by interview coach Brad Remillard, and he answered the following question:
"I HAVE HAD A NUMBER OF INTERVIEWS FOR WHICH I KNOW I'M QUALIFIED, YET I STILL HAVE NOT BEEN OFFERED A JOB. JUST WHAT DO COMPANIES MEAN WHEN THEY ASK FOR QUALIFIED PEOPLE?"
The answer was so simple, but we easily forget: You're qualified if you fit in!
When you go in an interview, it's not because you need to proof your qualifications to them. If they didn't think you were qualified, you wouldn't be there in the first place. You've already shown them that. You sent your resume, they saw your skills and work experience, they already know you're qualified.
So while we, as the interviewees, focus on making sure to give them every detail of every job we ever had and how we can apply that to their company, all THEY do is focus on YOU. Not your qualification - on YOU. So what you do in the interview is SELL YOURSELF. You don't sell your resume, you've already accomplished that. And you know that because you're THERE. The interview is your soft sell. The part where you sell YOURSELF. As a person. As someone who is likable, articulate, able to interact with people, and most importantly: Who will fit in with the company and their team (so do your research and know what they're looking for in a team player and if that's you!). Someone who is self-confident, not nervous when presented with an unfamiliar situation (such as an interview), someone who works well with others (who doesn't interrupt the interviewer), someone who can give answers that actually answer the question and not just blurt out bullshit just to say something. Someone who knows what he/she is talking about because you know the field. This is to prove YOU, not your skills.
#5: DON'T PREPARE. IMPRESS!
So knowing that now, just how do you do that? It's really simple: By being yourself. Don't pretend anything in an interview. Don't pretend to be someone you're not, don't pretend to know something you don't. They've interviewed hundreds and thousands of people, they WILL see right through it. And even if you manage to deceive them in the interview, it'll just get you right fired after you start working and there is no more pretending.
YOU KNOW WHAT YOU KNOW, AND YOU KNOW THAT WITHOUT PREPARATION.
Now, I'm not saying don't prepare. Do know your strengths and you weaknesses. Do be able to describe yourself, applicable to the job, in 3 words. Do have your "Tell me about yourself" prepared like it's a movie script. But prepare minimally, don't have a script to every question - because it will take your personality out. And it'll make you nervous if you "forget your next line." And if you feel compelled to inject something, something you just thought of, something that makes sense, say it. Don't worry about the 30-second-per-answer rule. I have never ever kept that rule. I most certainly speak longer than 30 seconds per answer. But if you actually have something intelligent to say, that's ok! They want to hear that. They want to hear that you know what you're talking about and how THAT contributes to the company. And it has NEVER worked to my disadvantage. Now, don't make the mistake to ramble. Do stop yourself at a certain point. Don't go on unnecessary tangents. Do be precise - that's really the "30 second rule" - that's really just saying: Be precise. They want to see that you can do that. But as long as your answer stays intelligent and on the topic, give it personality.
HERE'S A WINNING EXAMPLE
Here's a good, hard example question: "You have so much background in another industry. How come you're applying for a job in THIS industry?" This is the kind of question where you'll be tempted to lie... because you think your real answer will look bad. Resist the urge - be honest. They can tell if you're trying to lie to just get through an answer, they really can. If you're honest, and you know exactly why you want to change industries, and you can make it personal and actually show your reasoning that applies to their industry - perfect. If you just applied for the job because it's a job, even though you really don't care at all about the industry - you lost them right at this point. You WILL NOT get the job. But we're going to assume you applied for the job because you had a reason (and ideally, that reason should never be money unless there's a compelling reason that ties in with the job). And then that's your reason.
Here's a good, easy answer: "You know, that's a good question. I have so much background in that particular other industry because I always thought I wanted to be in it, so I worked diligently on learning about that industry (This, by the way, shows them your commitment and efforts that are perfectly transferable). But after working there, after doing my internships, I just came to see that I didn't seem to fit it. Everything is so cut-throat and people in the industry just have a personality so different from mine (customize here and name qualities). And it's not that I couldn't do my job, because the job is the same in either industry. It's the industry itself I decided was not the right fit for me (This is where you show them that you know what you want based on primary research and initiative). But I also did a project in YOUR particular industry and I talked to people working it it (name companies if you can) and I found that people there are so different, and have a completely different drive for why they do their work. It was so much more enjoyable to work with them because they actually cared not just about their job, but about their company. They worked at that company because that's where they really wanted to be (And again, you are showing that your decision is based on intelligent research and long contemplation). And it was so much more enjoyable to work with them because of that. And I want to be able to be passionate about my job. I want to believe not just in my work, but in my company and in what they do. And I know that I can do that in THIS industry, not so much in the other. The job I do is the same (and these are the points that I am particularly qualified in), but I can do it in an industry (or company) that I really came to believe in much more than the other (And now you're telling them that you can do your job regardless. Make that point. But you told them why you want to do it for them)."
That's the honest truth. And that's a good answer. You were honest, you told them you love your job, and you love THEIR industry and here is why, and it took longer than 30 seconds. And it's perfect. That's your personality showing. Don't worry about being honest - that's exactly what they want to see.
#6: YOU'RE INTERVIEWING TO GET A FRIEND, NOT A JOB
Don't worry about throwing in all the big words. If you know what you're talking about, they'll automatically be in there.
Don't worry about forgetting something - just say: "You know what, I'm drawing a blank right now." They know you're not perfect, they know you're nervous. An interview is a test on how you handle being nervous. It shows how you'll handle that in real life. Don't panic. Don't try to pretend you're not nervous. In other words: Don't be a hero. That, too, adds a likable quality - that you can admit a weakness and that you know you're not perfect. Because guess what: No one is.
I bet that all of us forget these basic things because we know what's at stake... and we forget what's really important when trying to "make friends" just because it's called an interview.
See it exactly like this: You are trying to make friends with the interviewer.
You will work with them - they SHOULD be your friends. Why would they hire you and see you every day if they don't like you?! You're there, you're qualified. They'll train you anyway! This is where you become their friend. When YOU choose your friends, you want them to be nice, personable, supportive, you want them to believe in you and pull you up, you want them to be good people who care, you want them to share your passions and interests. Right? Well, this is a relationship you're building just the same. This is where you're telling them with all you're saying: "I want to be your friend. Like me!" This is also where you find out if YOU like THEM. Think about this carefully: Do YOU want to go to work there every day just to have a job, but have a miserable life because you hate the people you work with? Well... that's exactly what they do when they look at YOU.
So go out and be so successful now! And let me know what you can add to this. Maybe you have a good example to share? Use the comment box below, I'd love to use your input!