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Career Advice: get some interview swag




I mentioned two weeks ago that for a graduate in this job market I haven't done too shabby, and with a 2:2 in the wrong degree this is something of a feat. 

You could put it down to luck but personally I put my success down to effort, hard-work and a good dose of interview swag. 

Yes, swag

Because even with a first class in the career you want to pursue knowing how not to piss off a potential employer goes a long freaking way. 

I only had to do three graduate interviews before I convinced someone I was worthy of a monthly paycheck, and I've learnt a wee bit about charming someone. 

Fight or flight
First of all, I'm actually not an overly cocky person and I'll usually run from confrontation. I'll only be the bitch if stuck in the opportunity when I absolutely have to be. And in an interview my fight system kicks in (similar to have exam) because I have no other choice. Get in that mental state. 

Look the interviewer up
With the rise of LinkedIn and 'humanising' your company it is now much easier to look up the person who will be interviewing you and prepare accordingly. Boring old stuffy person or someone quite young for that position? What degree do they have? How do they appear to dress?

Dress the part
Obviously. But this doesn't necessarily mean you should dress in a stuffy business suit. During your research of the company you should work out if its corporate (shirt, and smart skirt) or creative (smart but maybe wear a green pencil skirt). Also guys: a tie is a bit much if it's not a corporate joint. 

Look over your CV and practise expanding every point
In every interview I've had, the employer took a point on my CV and said "tell me more about this". Practise your answer for every single point you have. "Tell me more about your degree". "Tell me more about your honours project". "Tell me about this society your started". "Tell me about your blog". etc. And answer it in less than two minutes. 

If you are argued, stand your ground
The fact my degree wasn't marketing was bound to come up in a marketing interview. I could have flustered and looked at my feet but I stood my ground and said "marketing is continuously evolving and marketing courses go out of date quickly. Digital marketing practises and social media are not yet taught in traditional academic courses, and if a someone with a marketing degree knows about SEO, PPC, blogging etc then they have learnt it in their own time". To that affect anyway, with maybe some more mmhhss or ahhs. (When I was offered the role the employer said, I quote, "you were one of the less experienced but we seen a young confident woman with potential")

Look at their website (especially if it's a marketing role)
In every interview I was asked questions that were designed to tell if I had studied their website. These questions were not "Have you been on our website?" but more "what did you think of our staff photos" or more dauntingly "what would you do differently?" Would have been a bit embarrassing if I hadn't had a look. 

When you don't know how to do something...
You'll be asked whether you know how to do certain tasks associated with the job. It has been said never ever lie, and I agree but I have lied and never got found out. In each situation in which I lied it was a skill I believed I could still pick up quickly (such as Photoshop, as I already knew how to work PSP and Picmonkey). Your call. 

Listen to go-get-em songs on the way
On my trips to Glasgow from Aberdeen (remember I used to live there...hah) to visit for interviews I listened to Lady Gaga and Bon Jovi the whole way down. 'Cause it gets me in a fist pumpy mood. 

Act as though you'll be a long term employee
At heart employers know their employees might hand in their notice in at any given moment, but they like to employ people who probably won't. I know recruiters who look for signs that someone won't be committed and may take off less than a year later. Keep your business plan or desire for a PhD to yourself. 

Accept tea or coffee
Admitting you don't drink tea or coffee can raise eyebrows in a corporate environment, so if you're a freak like me who dislikes both just suck it up and swallow it down.

Watch your body language
My natural state of posture is to cross my arms but in an interview I correct that and don't put forward any perceived "psychological barriers". I also maintain eye contact without being creepy (I hope) but could probably work on not being so expressive with the hands. Talk to your camcorder and see what subconscious body movements you make.

Be yourself
Working in an office where you don't fit in or don't get along with anyone is balls. The best way to avoid this scenario is to be yourself in the interview.

And remember...
The only way you'll ever see this person again is if you get the job. So don't be afraid to put yourself out of your comfort zone. If you do admit you would re-design the whole website they might get offended and not hire you, but when you never see them again who cares? Or they might just see an 'ambitious young woman with potential' and decide you're the one.


Morag
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