There is tremendous anxiety when it comes to the dun, dun, dun...interview! But why is that? Have you ever considered that you are interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you? The primary rule of any first date, especially a blind date is don't act desperate. The same rule applies to looking for employment, even if you just spent your last tank of gas getting there. Employers, just like sharks, can smell fear and the outcome is usually an e-mail that says "Thank you for your interest. We had an excellent pool of candidates. We have chosen a candidate who we believe is the best fit for our company. We wish you the best as you continue your job search." Translation, kick rocks.
Just like a date, you want to look your best, know your worth, take the time to get to know your potential significant other, and keep your check-list of must-haves in your pocket.
1. Look your best
The standard for all professional interviews is a black, navy, or grey business suit. Women have the option of a skirt or pants suit. It is important to provide a neutral appearance with the pop of personality until you see what others in the organization are wearing. Never come with less than your best. Employers have expectations and you want to meet and exceed them. As for the pop of personality, showcase that with flattering accessories. Gentlemen, your favorite tie or bow tie, sharp cufflinks, and Johnston & Murphy shoes. Ladies, a cami that is your favorite color matched with a great necklace and earrings, and your favorite (comfy) Nine West pumps.
2. Know your worth
There is a difference between confidence and cocky. Most people do not know the difference between the two. Here's a little reminder to jog your memory. To be confident is to be certain, "full of conviction" (Merriam-Webster.com/Dictionary). Conviction implies that you strongly believe in something and can point to evidence that supports your conviction. In this case you strongly believe in your ability to perform well in the position for which you are applying and have evidence: professional experiences. Cockiness on the other hand is an exaggerated expression of confidence. It displays an insecurity in who you are and the skill set that you bring to the table. Thinking that you are the ONLY person qualified for the job and demonstrating your lack of a team player attitude is the quickest way to get "DENIED" stamped on your application. Don't be an exaggerated version of who you really are; be yourself. Firmly rooted in your convictions, qualifications, and what you can offer your potential employer. The truth always prevails.
3. Get to know them as much as they are getting to know you
ALWAYS and I do mean ALWAYS ask questions when you have the opportunity to do so. Very little will make you come across more naive then not asking at least three key questions. You're on the date too remember? Ask questions like, what is your department's greatest need and how can this position contribute to the solution? or What personality traits would best match the environment of your staff? or What are the goals of this unit for the next 3-5 years? If your interview isn't going as planned, asking all three of these questions will make your potential employer reconsider their initial judgements of you, and give you at least one more shot if you didn't impress them with the first 2 steps. If they were already impressed, you are almost done sealing the deal.
4. Keep your check-list of must-haves handy
Before going on your date or in this case interview, always ask yourself, "What am I looking for in a new job?" Brainstorm all the things that come to mind then prioritize your list solidifying your top 10. Don't expect to get all 10. Treat your list like a quiz. Receiving a 9 out of 10 is excellent, an 8 out 10 is still pretty good, but a 3 out of 10, even if they offer you the job, you may want to reconsider. Items on your top 10 list might include: an employer who values work-life balance, is family friendly, uses green products and recycles, or more importantly has a mission that you can believe in and adopt all or part of it as your own. These are things that will keep you happy in the long run. At some point the money still won't be enough so don't say yes the money and end up hating your job.
I hope you found these quick tips helpful. Happy dating, I mean interviewing!
The Fruit of Transition
There is an element to the start of something new that is terrifying. It's so strange how our emotions respond to stimuli. The same emotion from a bad dream or bad news is the same emotion that manifest itself at the end of one thing and the start of another. Maybe that is why break-ups are so bad...the fear of being "alone", transitioning from one place of perceived comfort or familiarity to the reality of a place that is uncomfortable and unfamiliar. No, I am not going through a break up (thank you Jesus!), but I am going to the next place on the journey God has for me. Effective June 28th, I will no longer work for the Georgia Institute of Technology.
I can hear some of the questions now, "Are you crazy? Georgia Tech is one of the best schools in the country," or "You're changing jobs again?" (that one is my favorite), or "Congratulations! Where are you going?" So glad you asked...I have accepted a position at Georgia State University working for academic affairs (finally) to counsel and coach academically at-risk students to aid in efforts to retain students and help them persist to graduation. A job who's benefits supersede any man-made currency.
At-risk has such a negative connotation doesn't it? However, I choose to see the opposite. I will be working with some of the country's most talented students. Students who are more creative than a standardized test, who lack the support of their family because they are a first generation college student seeking a better life or who have a dream but need the encouragement of an administrator to make it a reality. In some ways I am helping students just like myself. We all have an extraordinary gift and have the ability to epitomize greatness. But very few people do and often those who feel they have the least to contribute often fortify the excellence in us all.
I was inspired to write as I identified the emotion that I was feeling when I began packing up my office. My mother asked me the other day, "So are you excited about your new job!?" I replied, "Not yet." An uncommon answer when a young professional has landed a new title and secured more money right? I think so and the 10% of Americans unemployed right would probably think I needed medication. However, I am taking the time to maximize this season of transition. Something so few of us do.
Often we are too focused on where we've been or where we are going to recognize the valuable lesson in where we are. Reflection in this place of transition can teach you lessons that no self-help book or motivational speaker can inspire. The place of professional metamorphosis. If you take the time to be fully present in the moment. I believe you will find that this is one of the very few places you can accurately assess yourself as professional. The place where you can accurately give an account for your current job, your new job, and reasons for changing jobs or careers. It is the place where you can reinvent yourself and catapult yourself into the professional you've always wanted to become.
I encourage you to answer the following questions and hold on to your answers. Over time you compile your own professional career map to sift the good jobs from the great jobs, help you determine who you are as a professional, when is the most effective time to transition jobs, and how to pinpoint jobs that match your professional profile perfectly (that was some good ole fashion alliteration, my sister who is an English pro would be proud!). It's a myth that you need someone to tell you what you all of aforementioned items. YOU are the best answer to all of those questions. You are simply looking for affirmation to launch out ;) So without further adue here are the questions...
1. I started looking for a new job because I couldn't take _______________ anymore!
2. What did I enjoy the most about my current job? or If I had to pick something I liked about my current job it would be______________.
3. What type of supervisory style did my boss employ? How would I supervise differently or similarly?
4. What would my colleagues say about me? What is true, What is false, and Why?
5. Which colleagues did I not take pleasure in working with? How am I similar to and different from these colleagues?
6. If they had given me more money, would I have stayed in my current role? Why or Why not?
1. How did I find out about my new job?
2.Does this company's mission share aspects of my life's mission? (After all you will spend most of your time on your job...)
3. What words in the job description that excited me? What words lacked luster?
4. At what point in the interview, did I know that this job was the best fit for me?
5. How did my future colleagues describe the working environment?
6. Did I negotiate salary? Why or why not? Did I negotiate compensation beyond salary? If so, what did I negotiate? If not, why not?
7. How long do I plan to stay in my new position?
8. What are my goals for my first year in my new job?
Post & let me know what you learned about yourself.
Gala Jackson, M.Ed.