So you’ve applied early, written a personal letter to the potential employer, checked they received your cover letter, CV and Portfolio and spoken to them about arranging an interview date. So what now? Panic sets in; Sweaty palms, nervous thoughts? Just me? Thought not!
We all get nervous (even you confident ones!) but all you have to do is be prepared and to be positive. You’ve got this far – so you’re doing something right!
I’m especially excited to share this post with you, because like all of you reading this, I applied for A LOT of jobs/internships once I left university. Of which I got 6 interviews. Of these 6 interviews I got 6 jobs/internships. I’ll let you do the math... I’m not suggesting I’m the perfect interviewee, or that I have the perfect formula for the interview process, but I do make sure I take the following steps to improve my chances of getting that job… And here I am letting you in on some of my interview tips. So ace that interview and get that job!
1. Be Prepared – Make sure you do the research into the company/person your interview is with. No one expects you to learn the history of the company off by heart, but know your basics.
Tip: Focus on the aspects of the business you truly find interesting, therefore when you talk about these areas you will sound authentic, and you are more likely to remember information you find interesting!
Example: When going to an internship interview with a stylist, before hand I will chose a key editorial shoot and brand they had styled, that I really liked. Therefore, I would be able to talk about the work in the interview with true knowledge and interest.
2. Stand Out – By this I don’t mean wearing neon yellow to the interview (although this may work for some), but do things to make sure they remember you. Even if they don’t tell you to, make sure you take your portfolio and examples of your work, whether photographic work or even print outs of your favourite blog posts. Take your business cards, an extra copy of your CV to give to them. Leaving something behind means they’re more likely to remember you.
Tip: With each interview I go for, if relevant, I produce a piece of work for that person. This shows that you bring something new to the table and will be a valuable asset to the company. After all, they will hire you if they see that you will help with company progression, no matter how small your input. Doing extra things and putting in extra work to get noticed really does make the difference.
3. Be confident – I know this sounds obvious, but no one wants to hire a quivering wreck. This doesn’t mean you have to be loud and really bubbly, just think about each question and stick to what you say and believe (but don’t be arrogant of course).
Companies want to work with professional individuals who have established confidence, expertise and valuable ideas and opinions. They look for potential employees who can project confidence into their work strategy, which translates into sales, therefore benefitting their company.
Example: I was asked which social media platforms I feel are most affective for advertising blogs. The interviewer didn’t quite agree with my answer, but I stuck to my guns and explained exactly why I felt the particular site worked for what I do, but explained honestly how I felt the platform they preferred worked for they’re particular brand (because I did my research).
Tip: If they offer a drink, take a tap water – it doesn’t cost them any money, and taking a sip after they ask you a difficult question gives you more time to think about what you’re going to say.
4. Be yourself – This again, is so cliché to interview advice, but it’s true. Don’t put on this really confident front and use a highbrow vocabulary if that isn’t you. At the end of the day you’ve got this far to get the interview, you want to be hired because that person likes the real you.
Example: This is a controversial point – and a lot of people might not agree: If you wouldn’t wear a full suit to work, don’t wear one to your interview. Yes, you want to look presentable, so do make the effort in what you wear but at the end of the day you’re selling yourself, if a full on suit isn’t who you truly are, then what’s the point in wearing one right? I know this is a little different if you’re going for a job with a bank, but in the creative industries you have a little more room to show your personality through your clothing (and since working in the creative industries, I’ve not seen one person in a suit at work!)
5. Ask Questions – This is another bit of advice your parents also give to you before you leave, and we all go ‘yes alright!’ and run out of the door. But it’s so important to ask questions! It shows you have an interest in the company/person that is interviewing you. It also shows that you want and are willing to learn. I make sure to do this, but take a slightly different direction:
Example: If appropriate I ask the person interviewing me, how they’ve got to where they are today. And if appropriate a question that’s relevant to them; i.e. if they’re a photographer/stylist, who they’re inspiration is. The person interviewing you could be a future colleague/employer, so it’s good to know about them and who they are and to start building bridges early on. And plus everyone does love to talk about themselves – it’s human nature!
Tip: Come up with your own unique question. The more unusual/thought provoking the better! Back to the same point - they're more likely to remember you!
So there you have it, how I approach my interviews. It may not work for all of you; you may have your own techniques, but whenever/whoever your interview is with – Good Luck!
Remember if you’re unsuccessful, it’s no reflection on your personality if you’re polite and make the effort in the interview. It just means that someone else was more fitted to the role. You WILL get that dream job eventually you just need to keep at it.
And I just want to say that gaining an interview isn’t ‘luck’. Getting the job isn’t ‘luck’. If you work hard, keep applying and make the effort in your interviews, it isn’t luck that got you there, it’s your own hard work and determination.
Let me know if this is helpful, if there are any techniques that you think other people would find helpful for interviews, comment below and let us know!
My ‘Creative Industry Advice – How to be the perfect intern’ (Sounds obvious? Trust me, I’ve heard some stories and seen some interesting approaches to being an intern…) is the third post of this series – Keep checking back as this will be up on my blog soon!