This is a monthly column, originally posted to MyDomaine Australia, in which our publisher Alison Rice answers your most pressing career questions. You know, the stuff you really want to ask your boss but can't. Have a question? Ask it on Instagram or Facebook by tagging #AskOurBoss.
What does it take to nail a job interview?
Confidence, the right attitude, and authenticity.
Because I could end it there! But that would be underwhelming so let's dive a little deeper.
When I write confidence, I don't mean being an overly confident person. Interviews can be quite awkward, but that's the role of the interviewer — to make it less so. Because if we can make you feel at ease and calm your nerves, we're going to see more of you. The real you. It's for that very reason I don't ask a set of questions, I just have a conversation. Sure I drop some strategic ones in there, but really I just want to get to know you so I can see if your motivations align with ours, and what value you might bring to our business. At our company, we consider ourselves to be people-focused, so I'll try to find out what motivates you and what your expectations are of the role, and also us. It really is a two-way street so you need to be confident in who you are and what you believe in.
Of course your experience relative to the role is important, but the fact that you're in the room generally means you've got the right training or at least enough to spike curiosity. I like meeting people from diverse backgrounds who may have taken a different path. As a digital publishing house we consider ourselves to be pioneers, so I want to know how you've done that in your life, too. I want to know your story, how you've overcome challenges and what you learnt from those experiences. It's through diving into this stuff, vs. where you did your degree and how many internships you've done, that makes the limited time we have to get to know each other more authentic and meaningful.
This might sound obvious but you wouldn't believe how many times people I've interviewed haven't done this — you need to do your research. Another step that will make you feel more confident in the room. I am going to ask you what you know about our business. I want to know what it is specifically that you love about the websites we publish. The second I realise you don't really read the sites or haven't even Googled our company, you've lost me, and the role.
Another obvious one, but come armed with some thoughtful questions. Preferably not about you or how something will impact you. Definitely do not ask what the salary is or when your salary will be up for review, or when you might be considered for a promotion in the first interview. The second or third interview is the time for salary negotiation — give the interviewer time to want you in the business! Use the final question time in interview one to inspire your interviewer. I was asked a great question at the end of an interview recently: In the past year, what work are you most proud of? She ended up getting the job. She was a great fit on so many levels, but that question was thought-provoking and added so much value to our time together. We really connected over that concept of what it means to do great work.
The Follow Up
Finally, send a follow up email. Sometimes, if a manager has received 78 applications (and that has happened to me), we need to see the hunger. Just a short, polite, and energetic email is enough. "It was great to meet you, thanks for the opportunity. I am very excited at the prospect of joining the team and contributing to such a great business."