If you want to grow your career, you're going to face the not-so-enjoyable hurdle of job interviewing.
According to Katie Smith, CEO of career development firm Careerable, people rank job interviews near getting a cavity filled, in terms of stress level.
Getting a cavity filled = miserable.
Getting a new job = awesome.
So how can you reduce stress and anxiety, nail the entire process from phone to in-person, and get a great offer for your next gig? Check out these 7 tried-and-true tips. Hopefully they'll help make your job interview process more effective — and less like a trip to the dentist's office.
These tips are from today's brand-new episode of the Marketing Cloudcast, our weekly educational podcast to help you grow your career. Listen in for a deeper guide to job interview success, and then subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
BONUS: Today marks the start of a brand new format for the podcast! Last week we said goodbye to Joel, and I'm now talking with multiple guests per episode in a segment-based style, to give you even more inspiration and help. Check it out and let me know what you think (@youngheike).
First off, you'll reduce tons of your stress if you know exactly who's going to be there with you, asking you questions and shaking your hand. As soon as the interview is scheduled, get a list of names, and do a little research on what each one does at the company so you can ask smarter questions and have more context for the conversation.
Kyle Lacy of Lessonly, who's been a hiring manager for numerous marketing roles, explains: "Probably 8 of the 150 people I've interviewed has every asked me who they're going to be in the room with, which is mind-blowing to me. Then you don't understand who you're meeting with. Once you understand that, it's much easier to sell yourself, and it's much easier to communicate with people."
It's hard to think of amazing stories on the fly. So think ahead and prepare your most impactful stories of on-the-job success. What kind of stories, you might ask?
"Write down eight to 10 stories that sum up your experience. People are so much more natural when they're in storytelling mode Think about CAR: challenge, action, result. What was the challenge that the business was facing? What was the action you specifically took? What was the result of it?" That's Katie's advice.
Try telling these stories to friends and family in a practice session so you're even more natural. You'll feel confident and ready to showcase your most awesome successes when you walk in the door.
When you're nervous, the tendency is to fill up any available space in the conversation with more words. This makes you sound more nervous, and you may end up saying something that doesn't really have a point. Give yourself a break (and lessen anxiety!) by reminding yourself continuously that it's okay for there to be a bit of silence, and you should listen, above all else.
Amy Higgins, who's a rockstar marketer at TopRank Marketing, explains that this is something she's learned throughout the course of her career. "Back then, I did a lot more of the talking and less of the listening. I was always felt pressured to say the correct thing, and so that pressure would equal me continually talking, and I never stopped. Now, I would say I only do about 20% of the talking."
Folks interviewing for a job typically know that they're supposed to ask questions, too (not only answer them). Unfortunately, a lot of interviewers ask surface-level questions that don't add much, if anything, to the conversation.
To reduce stress, you can prepare these in advance and bring them with you to the interview.
Kyle explains, “Any question that you could have figured out by doing a little bit of research is a bad question. For example, 'Tell me what your company does.' Or, 'Tell me about your role as the marketing leader at X.' Those are very high-level questions. A better question would be, 'How do you deal with the constant change at a fast growing software company, especially the marketing department?' There's a huge difference between something that people can elaborate on, and something that's very boilerplate.”
It's stressful enough just being in a room where people are deciding your future. You don't want an armload of jackets, bags, hardcopy resumes, technology, a coffee cup, and who knows what else holding you back.
Avoid bringing way too much stuff with you to your next job interview, so you can easily move about the office and shake hands with whoever comes your way. (And don't forget the firm handshake, too!)
No matter what kind of role you're interviewing for — from an internship to the C-suite — the first question you're likely to get is, "Tell me about yourself." You should have a short, snappy, intriguing elevator pitch for yourself prepared. It should highlight your key abilities and successes while leaving plenty of room for them to ask you for more detail. (Talking for 5 minutes at this point without stopping isn't going to engage the person listening to you.)
As with your stories (see #2), you should practice this with friends so the words flow effortlessly. They can also give you feedback on the parts that are most interesting or could be skipped.
It's terrifying to walk into a room with strangers who have power over your future salary, responsibilities, and, basically, life. They're also on edge because bringing someone new into the fold may or may not work for them. So put these people at ease by knowing at least one fun fact about every person you talk with during your interview.
Kyle says one recent applicant did this at Lessonly and made a big impression: "He had researched personal and professional information about every single team member. He remembered everything. When a team member walked into the room for a one on one, he knew where they were from, he asked them specific questions about hobbies. It wasn't creepy, it was high level like, 'Oh, I saw that you have an Instagram account, and you have a boat." The team felt like they knew him after the first meeting."
This is an easy way to endear people to you right off the bat, and it doesn't take much work in today's social media age. Simply knowing one fun fact about the people you talk to will put them at ease — and reduce your own stress, knowing you have one enjoyable thing to talk about with every person.
Finding common ground is a brilliant way to make interviewing with someone actually enjoyable instead of comparable to getting a cavity filled.
If you've ever listened to the Marketing Cloudcast before, you'll notice a big difference this week. We've shifted to an entirely new format and style (think narrative with multiple guests — more Freakonomics, less live interview), and I'd love to know what you think!
Tweet @youngheike with feedback on this episode — or ideas for future guests and topics.