How to master any interview You may have heard the quote “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Discard that now. It is “what you know and who you know”. In an interview, you should remember that quote. I’m going to leave the business realm for a second and head into the board game territory. If you’ve ever played a game that involves judges (Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, etc) then you know the importance of knowing your judge. If the judge is someone who appreciates comedy, be funny. If your judge is serious and literal, then don’t make a joke. In an interview, it is pretty much the same. You should know who you are talking to and what they are looking for. Obviously though, that is very difficult. The first thing you should research is the company/organization you are interviewing with. For example, if you’ve heard anything about Google’s interview approach then you know it’s most likely much different than an interview at your local furniture shop. To start off this research process you should search (online) for information about the company. Find their website(s) and see if they have a Company Philosophy page. Study this until you completely understand and believe in their ethics. You should also search for information on their interview process; from current and past employees, failed and successful candidates, etc. Figure out what a daily schedule is like days before you even go in to apply. Once you’ve done all the research online that you can possibly do, head to their physical location(s). Start off by going in to locations that you will not be applying at. You should watch the employees there (Note: This is mainly for retail/public-access stores) and even talk with some of them. Do this a couple times and familiarize yourself with the “employee style” (Bearded or shaved? Well dressed or casual? Talkative or very quiet?). If you are applying at a business that doesn’t allow much public access, that is fine. Head to their waiting room, or offices and think of something to ask one of their employees. For example, something as simple as “where is the bathroom located?” is good enough. The point of this ‘walk in’ is not to make yourself well known, but simply recognized. Whenever you do a walk in you should open doors for other visitors and employees, and greet them. “Good morning, how are you?” is a great way to come across as friendly. All of these little things will add up in your employer’s mind, even if they don’t realize it. When you finally get to the point of applying and eventually scheduling an appointment, keep up your research. An interview is an interview; not a secured job. However, when you walk into the office (or company location) you want to be familiar with it. By now you should have at least been in the public-access areas such as the waiting room. You should be comfortable with their style of dress and the way they communicate. You should try to replicate this, but maintain a personal uniqueness at the same time. (Note: At my current job, I applied in Khakis even though the dress code is black pants. The first day I worked there, I wore black pants that I borrowed from my friend and a yellow/black striped polo. I am now on the fast track to a high-up promotion.) If you just read that side-note, you may assume that I am a slacker. Perhaps you’re right, but luckily for me, the company I work for did not penalize me for my clothing and instead put a value on my intelligence, experience and potential. Not all companies are like that though. Wearing your unique version of their clothing, clean shaven (even if their employees have beards), resume in hand, and with a sense of confidence, you should be personally prepared. However, the process is not done yet. When talking to your possible boss, you should always - no matter what - be honest. If they ask you about your experience in something and you have none, then tell them that. However, you should have a small clause at the end. For example, when my current boss asked me if I had ever lead a team of employees by example. I told her that I had never managed any employees, but I had a lot of experience with teams on the Football and Rugby field. I answered her question with my struggle of not being able to motivate certain people, but overcoming that by understanding their personal needs and styles of training. So realize that (in many cases) that you don’t need to stick to JUST work experience when you convince your possible boss that you’re the right person for the job. With your experiences either said, or in the front of your mind, you should also include these somewhere in your persuasive ‘speech’: -Your ability to learn quickly -Diversity in your life experiences -Personal devotion to enhance your knowledge at their company -Your love for working with others, but ability to manage your own tasks at the same time -Your ability to improve when someone gives you constructive criticism, but also continually improve by noticing things on your own (Try to give examples for all of these) Now, in some cases, you should try to ‘woo’ the interviewer. This obviously does not work with everyone. You should also be careful when doing this; you should not be too direct. For example, complimenting them on their appearance is off limits. Mentioning your admiration for them and the responsibilities they have is A-Okay. Don’t compliment them too much though. In fact, I usually stick to just one comment and ONLY if it flows right into the conversation. Once your interview is complete you will most likely be lead out by the interviewer/boss. If you are applying at a product-based store, then you should express an interest in some of their products. Pick an item that you know about and ask them a general question. When they answer you, give some acknowledgement and add something along the lines of “Oh, is this that __ that __?”. Remember, the little things add up. If you’re interviewing at a lesser-public business (banking, etc), maybe you could bring something up that you read on their Company News or Events. On your way out, make sure you offer up your time one last time. Tell them that your schedule is quite flexible and you can come in at any time if they need any additional information or documents. If you see any employees, greet them on your way out, and open doors for anyone when possible. Make sure you smile a lot as well. Just saying “Good morning” may cause that employee to mention later (to a boss) that “__Your Name__ seemed like a pretty nice person to work with”. After your interview, do not call them for at least a week. After a week, if you did not hear anything, give them a call. Ask to speak with a manager, to get your name in their ear, and then ask that manager to transfer you to the person you interviewed with (make sure you know their name). Express your continued interest in working with them and ask them if they have any additional information for you. Don’t be too pushy and make sure you tell them that you understand they may be busy and you don’t mind waiting for a response.