After a flurry of applications and interviews, while I wait to hear back, I’ve been thinking about what I might have done to prepare better or at least differently. I know I can’t change anything and overall I’m ok with that. But here are three things I’ve learned for the next time:
1) Check your voicemail greetings.
Like many, I included my cell # in with my resume, so I could receive and return messages during breaks in my working day (of course, my day is erratic anyway, but I’m sure it’s even more important for people on the 9-5). After receiving messages about scheduling interviews, I realized that I had no idea what my voicemail greeting sounded like.
Fortunately, it was pretty boring and standard. In calling friends, I’ve heard a number of greetings which involved music, silliness, or were just brusque like Micah’s: “hey, leave a message.” People seem to be a lot freer with their cell voicemail greetings.
If you’re going to be getting calls from people you want to impress, cut out cheesy lines, don’t be rude, and don’t make yourself sound irresponsible. I’ve heard some where the person was either drunk or pretending to be. Hilarious to friends, less so to employers.
This isn’t lying about who you are or giving up your identity. It’s part of the formal presentation, it shows you can be professional. I once tried to work with a sales rep who had a very long voicemail of her rapping and giggling (yes!). Didn’t impress me or my supervisor, especially since we played a lot of telephone tag.
Two things that I’d look for are: a) is your name clearly articulated on the greeting? b) does the greeting convey whatever sense of professionalism you’re bringing to the job in the rest of your application?
2) Always have an articulate answer why you want the job.
The first interview threw me off by asking that right off the bat. I knew why I wanted the job, but in focusing on other things I had forgotten to prepare something about why. Because the job excited me, I was able to come up with something. I prepared for the next time around and sure enough it came up. My answer wasn’t scripted, but I had identified 3 main points.
3) Prepare for a group interview.
Previously, I’ve only interviewed with a maximum of 1 person at a time. Most interview materials imply that it’ll be you and the interviewer. But what do you do if you have 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 people asking you questions? How do you build a rapport with them? Do you focus on only a few if it’s a larger group? Which ones?
Here are a few contributing factors that may lead to a group interview: Working under a couple parallel supervisors. Several tiers of management coming to the interview. A small team environment that’s looking for a good fit. A chair of directors hiring for a high-level job. A plain old high-level job.
What has surprised you most in an interview? What weren’t you prepared for?