How To Ace A Job Interview 102
In How To Ace A Job Interview 101 we talked about how important it is to prepare for interviews and which personal questions you are most likely to get.
On top of rehearsing the story you want to tell, you should also thoroughly research the position you are applying for and the industry. You need to have a good convincing explanation as to why exactly you are applying and think that you are a good fit. If you've googled the position, read the description online and you still have no clue what it is - that is fine. Be open about it and ask the interviewer to tell you how their day at work goes, which elements of the job they like most, what they dislike, etc. After all you should do everything to find out as much as you can about your future job. Otherwise, if you hate it when you start working you will have nobody to blame but yourself.
Make sure you also spend some time researching the industry. Chances are you already know a lot about it but sometimes you might want to try something very different and apply for a position in the fashion industry for example when all of your previous work experience is in the marketing field. If that is the case you will probably be asked to explain what drew you to the fashion industry and why you would like to make the change in careers. Think carefully about your answer ahead of time and have a strong logical story to tell. You also need to research extensively the industry you are applying for as you will most likely be asked to demonstrate your genuine interest in the field. If you don’t know anything about fashion it will be plainly obvious that you are not passionate about it and you will look unprepared and lost during your interview.
Aside from doing homework on the position/industry my other tip would be to think long and hard about the kind of personality you want to portray during your interview - do you want to come across as extremely self confident or do you want to be more humble, acknowledging that you still have a lot to learn.
Ideally, you should be yourself. But if you are extremely shy and prone to talking yourself down you have to teach yourself how to be the very epitome of self confidence. You are the only one who can sell yourself in an interview and you simply have to do it. Some people are naturally confident and comfortable listing all of their achievements. Others are not. I don't know if it is just my family or Bulgaria in general but I was brought up in a culture where you never point to people just how great you are. In fact, all my life if someone paid me a compliment I would immediately respond with some remark designed to belittle my achievement ("It wasn't such a big deal, anyone could have done it, I was just in the right place at the right time"). Well, I quickly realised that I had to change when I went to the US. Americans are trained to speak publicly all their life and more often than not they sell themselves better than anyone. So if you are competing for a job in the US you have to sell yourself as hard as they do. Otherwise interviewers, who expect self confident candidates might mistake your humbleness for incompetence. You want to avoid that at all costs.
Of course, as anyone who has seen even the opening credits of the Apprentice knows, sell yourself too hard and you risk crossing the line to arrogance. You want to avoid that at all costs too. So as with every other situation in life, the truth is somewhere in the middle. I know that I personally can never come across as arrogant. It is just not my nature - I have to push myself so hard as it is just to sort of sell myself. Think about your personality, see how you feel most comfortable but by all means make sure you stay somewhere in between shyness and arrogance.
Now that you have sorted yourself out, you have to think about the other (probably more important) person in the interview process - your interviewer. Yes ,they should be objective and should not be guided by personal preferences but the truth is - we are all human and we all have different expectations and preferences.
As much as you absolutely need to be yourself during an interview, you also have to be aware of your interviewer's natural preferences. Are they outright asking you aggressive questions, are they pressuring you more and more? Well, they are probably looking for someone who is very very confident even under extreme pressures. Are they friendly and helpful? They will probably not love your "I'm-the-best-thing-since-chocolate-ice-cream" attitude. And you need to adjust your behavior. Sometimes you will read your interviewer incorrectly - it happens. Just do the best you can to be attuned to their personality and work with it.