Recently, my company has begun hiring new interns for the spring, and I have been apart of the hiring process! In some ways, this type of interview process isn’t new for me. At Emerson, it was tradition that more experienced Resident Assistants helped choose the new batch of recruits. Here, though, it’s just myself, my boss, and the usually very nervous individual interviewing to be apart of our team for 10-12 weeks.
Before I was hired for my current company, I was temping there, subbing in for a friend who was pursuing other temporary work. I had been in LA only a few weeks, and was happy to be making an income. While I temped, I went for multiple job interviews. Some seemed to go better than others; some, I walked away unsure. Now, being on the other side of the table, I’ve been able to identify a lot of things interviewees do wrong, which I myself have definitely been guilty of. I’ve also seen a bunch of candidates pull out some very impressive stops.
So, in the spirit of making that career move or graduating and looking for your first real job, here are a few helpful hints I’ve accumulated. Note: this is by no means an exhaustive list, I am not an expert, and some of these tips will greatly depend on who is interviewing you.
1) When applying, follow all posted rules and don’t forget to spellcheck. One of the first things I look for in an application is whether or not the candidate has taken the time to look over the requirements I’ve requested. Their resume came as a Word document rather than a PDF? I toss their documents into the digital garbage can. It seems cruel, but when I’ve got fifty people applying a day, I need to get nit-picky.
Additionally, don’t forget to look your resume and cover letter over for comical errors. If you can’t take the time to put the effort into your application materials, I can’t take the time to read them.
2) Really do your research. I can tell from skimming a cover letter on whether or not someone actually knows what our company does, or what work we’re known for. This is true even for the in-person interview section; I’m always impressed by someone who can name our directors or some of our past projects, and discuss them.
3) When you apply, be persistent, but not annoying. If you don’t hear anything back after your initial application, it’s okay to fire off one follow up email. If there’s nothing after that – forget it. But if they respond and say, “We’ll get back to you,” don’t send a thing. The ball is in their court. Hopefully their decision will be swift, but do not pester them for an answer.
4) After scoring an interview, it’s usually a good idea to confirm your appointment time. You know, in case you’ve accidentally scribbled it down in your calendar for the wrong week.
5) Don’t just be prompt for your interview, be early. It gives you time to adjust yourself (especially if you sweat a lot like I do), go to the bathroom, grab a glass of water, chat up the receptionist. Just don’t be too early – I’ve had candidates come twenty to thirty minutes before we’re supposed to meet. Honestly, I’m busy right up until your appointment time, and having you sit there for eons makes me uncomfortable and rushed.
6) Remember, dress for the job you want, don’t just dress up. One girl walked in with full club makeup, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how out of place she seemed.
7) Bring extra copies of your resume, but if you see they already have a copy in their hands, don’t give them another one. We’ve killed enough trees as it is.
8) Just be yourself! Easier said than done, I know, but it’s important to take a deep breath and relax. Wow them with your personality, your passion, your know-how, and your confidence. Nothing is a bigger mood-killer than interviewing someone who is so terrified they can’t meet your eyes or get a word out. In a very short span of time, we’re trying to sum you up by your personality and your skill set. It’s now or never to dazzle!
9) You are a unique individual, so don’t hand me your resume in the same format your school’s career counselor chose for you. Give it some personality and pizzaz, but again, don’t go overboard, and try to match it for the career you’ve chosen. Check out this Buzzfeed post for some inspiration!
And while we’re on the subject of resume’s, don’t fill them with all of the projects and clubs you’ve done at school, unless they directly relate to 1) something you’re currently passionate about, 2) awards and recognitions, or 3) have a direct correlation to the job you’re pursuing. Otherwise, employers don’t care that you were in the band. Unless, of course, you’re interviewing for a symphony.
10) Lastly, follow up is always appreciated. Send a handwritten thank you, or even an email will do. It keeps your name fresh in an interviewer’s mind.
Let the hiring begin!