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10 Ways To Shine In Your Dream Job Interview

10 Ways To Shine In Your Dream Job Interview

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked younger me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or its adult counterpart, “What are you going to do with your degree?” I would be sitting in the middle of one of Forbes’ lists of the richest people in the world. Every single person has a dream job in mind, and although the particular job may change from age 12 to age 22, we spend our lives preparing for that special opportunity to arise. Now it’s 2014, and you have been called to come in for that dream job interview. So here are some tips to ace that interview and get the job you’ve been hoping for and working towards.

Practice potential questions before the interview

The internet is awash with potential questions from job interviews. From the most common job interview questions to the most peculiar, take some time to practice answering these questions, written and out loud. Knowing what to expect can put any fears and nervousness to rest, and set you up for a relaxed dream job interview.

Be punctual, presentable, and well organized

The interview process is not only about how you answer the questions. It also gives the interviewer a chance to view you and how you present yourself. It gives them a chance to gather information about how you would fit into their company. Therefore, it is important to BE ON TIME! Arriving late to an interview is a bad start, but not one that cannot be overcome. If an emergency occurs, relate that information immediately so that the interviewer knows that you are responsible and can communicate well.

Make sure that you dress appropriately for the interview, showing that you realize the importance of the interview. Whether it be suit and tie, blouse and skirt, or a pantsuit, a professional attire shows you take stock of your appearance and the message it communicates. The same message applies to how organized you are during the meeting. No one shows up to their dream job interview in pajamas and fuzzy slippers!

Have a compelling story to tell

The best interviewee is a person who can describe themselves well and in a variety of ways, interspersing their description of their skills with stories and examples as evidence. Interviewers do not want to be bombarded with data and figures. They want stories with emotional impact that hold their interest, convey meaning, and demonstrate your credentials to fill the position.

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So take some time to reflect before your dream job interview, and hold in your memory the moment when the manager didn’t show up for work and you helped calm the storm by assuming some of his duties, even though you were only a cashier at the time. Think back on the time when the members of your planning project quit on you and what steps you took to see the project to completion. It is these compelling stories that will allow you to shine.

Study that industry well

Do your research! Take the time beforehand to look at the company’s website, where you can find information like corporate officers, the latest press releases, and the company’s annual report. Try to gather as much information as you can on your soon-to-be employer and their strategic goals, special projects, and new developments. Having a knowledge of company products, services, protocols and procedures shows the interviewer that you’re proactive, with an eye for detail and an appreciation for the power of preparation. You can get a glimpse of the company culture by perusing the company message board, and by reading the company mission, vision, and values statements.

And then bring the information you have gathered with you to the dream job interview (preferably in a nice portfolio or attache, presentation is important!), and WOW the interviewer with your preparedness.

Know how you can contribute

You have hunted down this interview for your dream job, and have prepared for it by researching the company. But why? Why should the company hire you over the other applicants who may want the job just as much, or be similarly qualified?

It is important to go into your dream job interview with a proper idea and assessment of how you plan to contribute to the company. Whether it is by aligning your skills with new projects and developments, or by providing a skill in an area where they currently do not reach, or by having a skill that you do better than anyone else they have or will hire, show the interviewer that you have already thought about how you will contribute and improve the company.

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Have a professional online presence

Today, an online presence is more important than ever before! The difference between getting a job or not can simply be the pictures you posted after the four days of partying in Amsterdam, or your personal, R-rated rants on Twitter about that particular subject that gets you irate. Potential employers check all these things! Clean up your current social media accounts and tweak privacy settings to properly manage your online image.

The next step is to be consistent with what goes out from your online platforms. Whether it be LinkedIn, a blog you write, your Twitter or your Vimeo account, make sure that you are providing content that aligns with the message you are trying to get across. Creating professional pages on these platforms can help keep your personal and professional lives separate and still maintain your online presence.

Be honest

Honesty is extremely important in your dream job interview. Be honest about how you have handled previous work situations, personal problems on the job, why you were fired, and anything else that the interviewer might ask. Honesty in the answers to these questions, whether the answer is politically correct or not, shows the interviewer your humanity. Telling the potential employer about the situations that caused problems in previous positions will help them place you strategically to avoid negative situations from arising again. Honesty also eliminates the need for a “transition period,” or the time you spend on the new job trying to fit in and adhere to the “dream you” you fabricated in your dream job interview.

Know your strengths and weaknesses

This tip goes hand in hand with honesty. Self-awareness and the ability to self-assess are key in moving yourself to the top of the list of potential candidates. Know your strengths and be able to describe them, especially if they are in areas that are uncommon. Be able to describe how you excel in these areas even above others who may claim the same attributes.

No one believes you when you say your only weakness is “being a perfectionist.” Saying that only shows that you lack self-awareness or are putting on a front to get the job. Be able to accurately describe areas where you are not as strong as you should be, but without sabotaging your chance at getting the job.

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Shine at your dream job interview not only by knowing your strengths and weaknesses, but having a plan in place to improve in all these areas. The plan to improve is the key interviewers look for in a potential employee.

Ask the right questions

Come prepared to interview the interviewer! While going through their gamut of questions, you get the opportunity to quiz them and assess how you measure up at that point in the process. Asking questions at the beginning of the interview allows you to tweak your future responses, adding in buzzwords and key phrases that show you possess all the qualities the position seeks.

Sarah Hansen nailed 10 questions to ask in an interview in her article. Here are some examples of her suggested questions to ask at the beginning of your dream job interview:

  • Can you tell me what a typical day in this position looks like?
  • Can you tell me about your company culture?
  • If you could create the ideal person for this position, what traits would they possess?

Or at the end:

  • In the beginning of our meeting, you listed your ideal candidate having the qualities of X, Y, and Z (repeat their words back to them that they used to answer to your opening question). Do you feel I have adequately shown you that I demonstrate these qualities?

These questions allow you to address any questions they might have concerning your hiring potential, to give evidence of your credentials in the traits they desire, and to assess how you would fit in this company if hired.

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Send a thank-you note

Last, but definitely not least, say thank you!

It is important to either send a note, an email, a phone call, or any other form of correspondence you prefer (carrier pigeon may be overdoing it). The purpose is twofold: not only do you express your sincere gratitude for the opportunity to interview for your dream job, but you take the chance to remind the interviewer of who you are. Out of sight, out of mind? Not if you take the opportunity to say thank you and stay relevant as they complete their hiring process.

Any other tips for acing that dream job interview? Any funny, strange, or random interview stories? Share them below!

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Published on December 13, 2018

How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

If you’ve ever thought about starting and running your own business, you’re not alone. Being your own boss, having flexibility with your schedule and keeping more of the financial rewards that come with business ownership are all good reasons to own your own company.

But as you might expect, it’s not all vacations and fat bank accounts. According to the SBA, 2/3 of businesses survive at least 2 years and approximately 50% survive 5 years.[1] So why is the failure rate so high? At least for the businesses that fail early on, lack of, or poor planning can be a major factor.

So how to start a company?

Starting a business from scratch doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, but it does take planning and work. Here are the first and most important 9 steps to take when your are starting a company from scratch.

1. Do an Honest Evaluation of Yourself

Do you work better in a structured or unstructured environment? Does a daily routine reduce your anxiety? What kinds of things are you good at? Does public speaking or making presentations make you nervous? Are you good at accounting and numbers? Can you handle the rejections you’re bound to get when selling or cold calling?

These are all important questions to ask yourself, in fact it’s a good idea to get other peoples opinion about their perception of you in each of these situations.

Whatever the answers you come up with for your evaluation, remember that’s all it is, an evaluation of where you are now. Think of it as a way to identify both your areas of strength and weaknesses.

You maybe good at public speaking which can help when raising money, but bad at accounting which just means that you’ll need to find some kind of help with that area of the business.

2. Evaluate Your Idea

If your business idea involves a new product or service (or even an enhancement to an existing product or service), it needs to be evaluated. This is technically called market research.

There are firms that specialize in doing market research for new products, but if you are on a tight budget, you can do this yourself.

First, if you can build a prototype for people to use, touch and look at that’s the best option. If a prototype is not possible or it’s a service business, then offer a highly descriptive presentation of the business plan complete with it’s unique benefits and how it’s different from the competition.

Then listen! Remember that this is not about others liking your product, this is not your baby that they are talking about. You want honest market research that gives you the best chance for a successful business. Take notes, when someone tells you that they didn’t like a feature or some aspect of your idea tell them ‘Thank you”.

After several rounds of market research with different groups of people, you should see patterns emerging about things that they both liked and didn’t like. Use this information to tweak your product or service and do another round of market research.

Keep in mind that you’ll never come up with a universally loved product, your job is to produce a product or service that appeals to the broadest range of your target market.

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3. Make a Business Plan

I know, I know this isn’t the “fun” part of starting your own business, but it is an very important step in creating a successful business!

Basically, you can think of a business plan as an outline or blueprint of your business. A good business plan should have the following elements:

  • Executive Summary – This should lay out the businesses product or service and the problem that it solves for the consumer.
  • Market Evaluation – This should talk about the market you are serving. Is it an expanding market, and how does your product better fulfill the consumers in that market.
  • Market Strategies – How are you going to penetrate the market and sell your product.
  • Operational Plan – How will the company run from day to day? Who are the key employees and what are their specific rolls. Do your key players have specific goals set for them in advance?

A final word on making a business plan: while lying is never acceptable especially when you are using the business plan to raise money, it is acceptable to “put your best foot forward”.

Playing up the positives while minimizing the negatives is almost expected in a business plan.

Besides, banks as well as professional investors will both do a more in-depth analysis before investing any money into your idea.

4. Decide on a Business Structure

You have many options here, and discussing them with your accountant or financial adviser is really the only way to know what’s right for you. But just to give you a quick rundown of the types of business entities and their pros and cons we will briefly go through them:

Sole Proprietorship

This is a common way for small businesses to get started.

The pros being:

Relatively low costs to set up (usually a business license and sales tax license).Owners normally do not have to set up a special bank account, they are allowed to use their personal one. Any income earned can be offset by other losses (check with your state!). You as the sole proprietor have complete control over all decision making. 

Finally, sole proprietorship’s are relative easy to dissolve.

The cons of using a sole proprietorship include:

You as the sole proprietor can be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the company. Some benefits, such as health insurance premiums, are not directly deductible from business income.

If you need to raise money, you are not allowed to sell an equity stake in the company. In that same vein, hiring key people maybe more difficult because you cannot offer them an equity stake in the company.

Partnership

A partnership is formed when two or more people decide to start a business. Although there is no legal requirement for any documentation to form a partnership, it is my advice that you never enter into a partnership without having a partnership agreement. (Remember, spending $1500 now can save you $150,000 in legal fees later!).

The pros of a partnership include:

Being relatively easy and inexpensive to start. Hiring key employees can be easier as you are allowed to give equity ownership to as many partners as you want.

For tax purposes, partnerships are relative simple as any income is treated as “pass through” meaning that each partner pays tax on their individual portion of the partnerships income (As of this writing, always check with your tax adviser).

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As far as the cons go:

It can be difficult for some general partnerships to raise capitol. Because it is a partnership, the actions of one of the partners can obligate the entire organisation. All profits must be shared according to the partnership agreement regardless of the amount of work done by any single partner.

Some employee benefits may not be able to be deducted on income tax returns.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

This is a very popular business entity for small to medium sized businesses. The reason for this is the cost of set up is not prohibitive and there is a separation between the owners and the company.

The pros of an LLC include:

Limited liability for the partners, unlike sole proprietorship’s and partnerships where the owners are held responsible for all of the companies debts and liabilities, an LLC provides some protection against certain debts and liabilities that are solely the companies.

Simple taxation, just like the sole proprietorship and partnerships, income is considered “pass through” and is only taxed once on an individual level.

There is no limit on the number of shareholders in an LLC. An LLC requires fewer fillings and administrative requirements than a corporation.

Corporation

A corporation is much more complex and expensive to set up. And a corporation is legally considered an independent entity that is separate from its owners.

The pros of a corporation include:

Complete separation between the owners and the company. Because the corporation is considered its own legal entity, owners can not be held personally responsible for any debts or liabilities of the company.

A corporation can raise capital much easier just by selling more shares in the company.

Cons of corporations include:

Much higher administrative costs than any other business entity. Corporations generally have a higher tax rate. Dividends are not tax deductible for corporations. Income paid in dividends is taxed twice, once by the corporation and again by the shareholder.

Again, this is just a short summary of the pros and cons, always check with your tax adviser about what will work best in your situation.

5. Address Finances

Again, not one of the “Sexier” parts of starting your business from scratch, but very important nonetheless.

So, you’ve done your business plan and an estimate of your start up funding should be included. It should include the amount of funding you’ll need to get you through your first full year of operations.

Now, how do you get that money?

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Self Funding

If possible, self funding is the easiest. You won’t have to go to banks and investors with hat in hand, or give up ownership or control of your company. But as we know, this is not a reality for most people. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of options available.

Friends and Family

They can be a good source of funding your business if they can see and understand your vision.

Remember that business plan? Pass them out to everyone you know. Then follow up, be prepared to tell them the total amount of money you expect to raise, the minimum investment you are looking for and what you will give in return for the investment.

For example, you give a friend your business plan and follow up with him/her a few days later. You can explain that you have secured funding for $80,000 of the $100,000 you need. You are selling a 2% share in the company for every $2,000 investment. How many shares would he like?

And when he/she tells you no, thank him/her and ask if he/she can think of anyone off the top of his head who might be interested? Tell him/her you really appreciate his/her time and if he/she does come across someone who might be interested to let you know.

Banks

These guys are happy to lend you money when you don’t need it, but all of the sudden they get stingy when you actually need a loan! This is where preparation comes in.

It’s a good idea to go over your business plan with an expert and maybe even have it rewritten by an expert before you approach either a bank or professional investor. Both will want to go over your business plan with a fine tooth comb, verifying all the numbers and data you provide.

You should also brush up on everything in the plan so that you can answer any questions they have with authority.

Crowdfunding

Finally, there is crowdfunding through sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. Crowdfunding helps to build interest, community spirit, and a customer base. It’s also an efficient way to raise funds. You can take a look at these tips to find out more:

6 Crowdfunding Tips To Get Your Project 100 Percent Funded

6. Register with the Government

As stated earlier, different types of business entities have different filling and administrative requirements. At the very least, you’ll probably need a business license as well as a state sales tax license.

Unless you are forming a corporation, there are many good resources on the web that will do everything for you at a minimal cost.

7. Assemble Your Team

Remember when we evaluated your strengths and weaknesses? Here is where we fill in the gaps!

Do you hate sales and cold calling? Great! There are people who love selling and wouldn’t want to do anything else.

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Bored to death with accounting? There are a ton of small accounting firms out there that will take care of that for you.

What about marketing? You can hire someone in-house or out-source that too.

Your job is to keep on top of all the different aspects of the business to make sure they are all running smoothly and getting the results you need. If not, it’s your job to figure out the problem and implement a solution.

Check out this guide and learn how to delegate effectively:

How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

8. Buy Insurance

No matter what kind of business you start, you need insurance! Yes, I know, no one likes to buy insurance, but it can literally be the difference between having a minor inconvenience and declaring bankruptcy.

We live in a very litigious time, even a minor slip and fall at your place of business could bankrupt you without insurance. If you need help finding a good agent, check with your local trade organizations or fellow business owners.

9. Start Branding Yourself

Has anyone ever ask you for a Kleenex or a QTip? We all know what they are because of branding, Kleenex is just a brand of tissue and QTip is just a brand of cotton swab. It doesn’t have to be as widely known as Kleenex or QTip, but you can make your brand a common name within your niche.

I once owned a manufacturing company that developed a product that was so popular that my competitors started co-opting my brand name for their products.

If you aren’t sure how to kickstart branding yourself, check out these ways:

5 Ways to Build your Personal Brand & Make More Money

The Bottom Line

Starting a business from scratch can be one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have.

But do you know what’s even more rewarding? Having a business that succeeds, is profitable and provides a good source of income for you, your employees and their family’s.

More Resources About Entrepreneurship

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

Reference

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