Since I graduated college in 2016, I have been to 8 job interviews and received offers on 5 of them. I have become somewhat of a pro at interviewing and talking about myself professionally. My friends and family like to joke that I’m great at finding and getting jobs but not great at keeping them. (I’ve been through multiple company layoffs at no fault of my own) You can read about my most recent job as an assistant fashion buyer for a large department store and what I do everyday!
People in my life and online have asked me to share advice on where they should look for jobs, what questions to ask, and what to wear to the interview. I wanted to share all that I know about job hunting and interviewing to help you get hired. Below are my best tips!
FINDING THE JOB
Something that I learned in college is that you should never underestimate the power of professional connections. Before I even graduated I created a LinkedIn account to start connecting with others in the career field that I wanted to be in. I made sure to have a compelling introduction, list out all my work experience (even if it’s not relevant to the job you want), and showcase all the skills that I have. Then I started messaging people at companies to tell me more about what they do, if they could meet with me to tell me more about the company and if there were any open positions available.
It may seem creepy to message people that you don’t know about a job but honestly that is how I got my first job out of college. This girl was nice enough to have lunch with me at her work and tell me all about her job. A month later, she emailed me saying that they had a position open and they would love to interview me. I was so thankful for that connection!
Other places that I look for jobs are on company websites and job posting sites. I really like Indeed.com because they keep your resume on file so all you have to do is paste in your cover letter and click apply! You can also search for jobs on Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, SimplyHired, or ZipRecruiter websites.
PREPARING FOR THE INTERVIEW – DO YOUR RESEARCH
Getting the chance to interview for a job is an amazing opportunity and you should be super proud of yourself for making it to the next step! But now is where we need to get down to business and start doing our research. This is when you should get out a nice notebook or buy one so that you can start taking notes in it.
You should spend a good hour or so learning everything you can about the position you’re interviewing for and the company. You want to get a sense of “who” the company is, so start reading their blog and social media pages. Spend some time on Google to find information about the company, LinkedIn to find out who currently works there, and Glassdoor to read company reviews and salary information.
Before your interview, you’ll also want to research the people you will be meeting with. Find their LinkedIn page or even their Facebook page to get a sense of their interests and professional background. You should be taking notes in your notebook about all the information that you find. It can be really helpful to have when they ask you to tell them what you know about the company.
PRACTICE OUT LOUD
We know that the person conducting the interview is going to have a bunch of questions for you so it’s good to practice answering them so that your response is professional and well thought out. Don’t just think about how you’ll answer certain questions; practice looking in the mirror and answering them out loud. This prep work will help you clarify your thoughts and make you much more comfortable during the interview.
The question, “So, tell me about yourself” is inevitable. I have answered it so many times that I now just go on autopilot explaining who I am and what skills I have. Other questions that you should be prepared to answer are ones about your previous positions, strengths, and weaknesses as well as why you are interested in a new job.
QUESTIONS TO ASK
When I get asked if I have any questions about the job, I always make the interviewer laugh because I say that I have around 15-20 questions to ask them and they are written down in my notebook. Yes, I seriously ask them all those questions too. Asking questions during an interview shows your interest in learning more about the company, and you want as much information as possible before making a decision to accept an offer, all of which are traits of a strong leader and welcomed by employers.
You can easily find lists of common interview questions online and on Pinterest. Here are all the questions that I normally ask in my interviews:
- What are the everyday tasks for this job?
- How many people will I be working with?
- What are the hours I will be working every day?
- What kind of training will there be?
- What skills are most important for this job?
- What are the company’s short and long term goals?
- Can you tell me about the people that I’ll be working with?
- What is your management style?
- What is the working environment like in the office?
- Is there room for advancement in the company?
- Do you have any indecision about my qualifications?
- Can you describe the work-life balance?
- Is the company in good standing?
- How will my performance be reviewed?
- What is your favorite part of working here?
- What is the salary of this position?
- What benefits does the company offer? (Healthcare, vacation time)
- When would the first day of work be?
WHAT TO WEAR
This is the fun part because you get to plan out the perfect interview outfit! For companies that have a business or business-casual dress code, keep your look basic and conservative for the first interview. My go-to outfit is usually a printed button-down shirt that is tucked into chino dress pants and paired with flats or 1-inch heels. During the summer months, you can wear a modest knee-length dress or a midi skirt so that you are comfortable but still professional. You can shop for the ideal interview outfit below!
The night before your interview you’ll want to make sure to get your entire outfit ready and laid out. I like to steam the shirt or dress that I’ll be wearing to ensure that it’s clean and pressed. Pick out some nice shoes that you can walk comfortably in and make sure your nail polish isn’t a crazy color.
WHAT TO BRING
You did all this work preparing for the interview and now it’s time to show off your notes. I love having my notebook out open on the table so that the person conducting the interview can see how much work I did researching and how great I am at taking notes and being organized. You should also remember to bring five copies of your resume. You never know who you’ll be meeting with, and you want to have your resume ready to go in case you’re asked for it.
It’s also great to prepare a list of references just in case they ask for it. I usually have a list of 3 people with all their contact information underneath that the company can reach out too. Also, don’t forget to bring a pen to write down answers to the questions that you’ll be asking!
The night before your interview you should get your purse, backpack, or briefcase ready to go. Whatever bag you carry should be large enough to hold your on the go essentials (wallet, phone keys), plus your extra resumes and a notebook, as well as interview emergency items you might need like an umbrella, breath mints or band-aids.