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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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Last Updated on October 18, 2018

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

When it comes to starting your own business and pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be advantageous to go all in and embrace the flexibility of finally quitting your day job.

Keep in mind, though, that it takes a special kind of person to take the business world by storm: a person who has cultivated the key characteristics of entrepreneurial success.

People with these characteristics are likely to succeed, whereas people without them have difficulty moving forward with even the most brilliant business ideas.

These characteristics of an entrepreneur are so important that I’ve decided to cover all 10 of them in detail so that you can start your business with your best foot forward.

1. Successful Entrepreneurs Practice Discipline

Plenty of business experts claim that you can’t get anywhere as an entrepreneur without vision or creativity, but that’s simply not the truth. Instead, the one quality that no entrepreneur can be successful without is discipline.

To build an idea into a business, you have to have the discipline to spend time slogging through the least fun parts of running a business (like the bookkeeping), rather than taking that time to do something fun.

Andrew Carnegie, one of the most financially successful Americans of all time, grew up working dull and difficult jobs in factories. Despite going to bed hungry some nights, he continued doing his best work. He was eventually hired by a railroad company and continued to move up the ladder until starting his own successful businesses. Carnegie is a fine example of an entrepreneur dedicated to discipline and hard work. He truly earned his dreams of prosperity and success.

When you’re the boss, there’s no one to keep you at work except yourself — and there’s no short-term consequences for skipping out early.

Sure, if an entrepreneur plays hooky enough he knows that the business just won’t happen, but it’s very hard to convince someone that ‘just this once’ won’t hurt (and to keep ‘just this once’ from becoming a daily occurrence).

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2. Successful Entrepreneurs Keep Calm

Things go wrong when you run your own business.

Most entrepreneurs go through crises with their businesses — and more than a few wind up with outright failures on their hands. But when you’re responsible for a business, you have to be able to keep calm in any situation. Any other reaction — whether you lose your temper or get flustered — compounds the problem.

Instead, a good entrepreneur must have the ability to keep his cool in an emergency or crisis. It may not make the problem easier to solve, but it certainly won’t make it harder.

Honestly, losing your calm is a quick path to becoming the kind of person who gives up in the face of adversity. Instead giving in to frustration, remember classic entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin kept his calm as he experimented and tweaked his inventions again and again in pursuit of success. He didn’t give up during his many failures – he chose to innovate. You can choose innovation, too.

If an entrepreneur can handle failure without frustration or anger, s/he can move past it to find success.

3. Successful Entrepreneurs Pay Attention to Details

Restricting your attention to the big picture can be even more problematic than ‘sweating the small stuff.’

As an entrepreneur, unless venture capital has magically dropped out of the sky, a small expense can be a killer. It’s attention to detail that can make a small business successful when it has competition and it’s attention to detail that can keep costs down.

Attention to detail can be difficult to maintain — going over ledgers can be tedious even when you aren’t trying to pay close attention — but keeping your eye on a long-term vision is just asking for a problem to sneak in under a radar.

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After a business grows, an entrepreneur might be able to hire someone to worry about the details. In the beginning, though, only one person can take responsibility for the details.

Skeptical about the importance of details? Look no further than Howard Schultz, who grew a small coffee shop called Starbucks into one of the most globally successful coffee businesses in the world through his extreme attention to detail.

He is famous for taking all aspects of growing a business into account, paying attention not only to financially smart business decisions, but also focusing on socially responsible business decisions. Details can take you far.

4. Successful Entrepreneurs Embrace Risks

No entrepreneur has a sure thing, no matter how much money s/he stands to earn on a given product. Even if a product tests well, the market can change, the warehouse can burn down and a whole slew of other misfortune can befall a small business.

It’s absolutely risky to run a business of your own and while you can get some insurance, it’s not like most investment options. Even worse, if something does go wrong, it’s the entrepreneur’s responsibility — no matter the actual cause. In order to deal with all of that without developing an ulcer, you have to have a good tolerance for risk.

You don’t need to channel your inner frat boy and take on absolutely stupid risks, but you need to know just how much you can afford to risk — and get a good idea of how likely you are to lose it. If the numbers make you uncomfortable, the risk is too great.

Embracing risks is essential for growth and additional success, as well. Walt Disney, for example, could have stayed comfortable with his advances in the film and animation industries, but decided to expand his brand with a new dream: a theme park that soared above the competition. Without taking this risk, the incredibly successful Disney theme park empire would never have come about.

An entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.

5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Balanced

You can take any characteristic too far. There’s a point at which attention to detail can become obsession or calm can become unemotional response.

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As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance your characteristics, getting the most of them without going over the edge. But balance for an entrepreneur goes far beyond keeping your characteristics in check, though.

Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to keep them at work when necessary, they don’t have one to send them home when they’re done. If you are working for yourself, you have to decide how to balance your work and home life — and if you have a day job to add into the equation, balance just gets more complicated.

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs out there, understands the importance of balance. Winfrey has a lot going on; she runs her own media kingdom, acts, produces films, publishes print, and more. In an interview with Fast Company,[1] she talks about her efforts to balance priorities and self care, saying that she must ask herself what is truly important in each limited day.

You may or may not have as much on your plate as Oprah, but learning how to balance whatever you have going on in life will certainly help you farther along down the road as you learn to be a great entrepreneur.

6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Passionate and Motivated

In order to develop any of the above characteristics, you must have a foundation of passion. Staying disciplined day after day during the building of your business takes unrivaled motivation.

Before you start any business, ask yourself if you can sustain true excitement about your idea during even the darkest days ahead of you. If the answer is yes, then good for you! Nurture your natural motivation by taking these action steps throughout your business journey:

  • Commit to making short and long-term goals. Check in with them often to stay on task.
  • Have a plan in place for the inevitable days when you feel discouraged. Make a list of things that will help keep you motivated and focused.
  • Share your ideas with trusted individuals who are just as excited as you are. They will help keep your enthusiasm rolling even when you are feeling down.

By being prepared for apathetic days and holding fast to your authentic passion, you can actually enjoy your journey to success.

7. Successful Entrepreneurs Adapt

Remember this one word: flexibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs know that change is not only a part of life, but also a part of the business world. Expect change and choose to adapt.

As a new entrepreneur, it will be tempting to cling to your original business plan with no exceptions, even if you notice it isn’t working. Good entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to make smart, informed changes in order to ensure efficiency.

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8. Successful Entrepreneurs are Marketing and Sales Experts

No matter what kind of business you are starting, a knowledge of marketing and sales will save you many headaches. A passion for creating a beautiful handmade lifestyle product is not enough to run a successful lifestyle brand; it is critical that you understand key business principles in addition to your natural skills or great product line.

Not sure how to start? Taking business courses is a great idea, but you can also easily brush up on sales and marketing through free online resources. Check out these 10 Sales Skills Everyone Should Master To Be Successful to begin now.

9. Successful Entrepreneurs Have Strong Money Management

Along with sales and marketing skills, money management is a very useful tool in the box of the entrepreneur. Understanding how to best manage your money can be the difference between early success and early failure in the business world.

If money management isn’t your strongest skill, prepare to hire a financial expert to help you with any tricky business that comes up. Financial guidance and knowledge is never a bad idea.

10. Successful Entrepreneurs Ask Questions and Continually Improve

Pride is a natural human quality, but it’s important to humbly conduct some constructive criticism every now and again on both yourself as a leader and your new business as a whole.

Assess how things are going and be willing to make positive changes if necessary. Here’re 15 ways to cultivate lifelong learning.

If you are always improving, then how can you ultimately fail?

The Bottom Line

Let me remind you of one important fact: the qualities of an entrepreneur listed here are not exclusively available to some people and elusive to others.

Although some people may have natural strengths and weaknesses, these qualities can be learned by anyone interested in taking up the entrepreneurial challenge. It might not be easy to change old habits, but it is absolutely possible to cultivate these characteristics in yourself.

Whether you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, with hard work, you can train yourself to develop the qualities that truly determine the entrepreneurial spirit and future success.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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