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How To Steal The Spotlight At An Interview

How To Steal The Spotlight At An Interview

You spruced up your resume, destroyed the photocopier, and managed to land yourself an interview. Congratulations! But what’s next? You’ve done the easy part getting an interview, now you need to make yourself really stand out from the crowd and turn an interview into a job. Interviews can be really daunting experiences, but on the whole they all tend to follow a very similar format, and there are loads of things you can do to get yourself in the right frame of mind and prepared to steal the limelight from the other applicants. Here’s what you need to do, starting from the beginning:

Preparing for an Interview

Getting yourself ready for the day of the interview is probably the most important part of the whole process. Most companies will give you approximately a week between the day they invite you and the day of the interview. This is to give you ample time to prepare yourself as they wish to see you at your best, and so don’t procrastinate – prepare!

Rehearse Typical Questions

Many interviewers will ask similar questions no matter what the field or sector, as they are looking for more personal views rather than expertise-based notions when looking to hire. They want to make sure your desires match up with the companies, and that you will fit into the culture. Glassdoor sifted through thousands of interviews and put together the 100 most common interview questions. It’s best to run through a list like this, and see if you can prepare and plan the points you want to mention, and try to remember the key points and not a speech – sounding rehearsed in an interview often comes across quite negatively.

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Relate to your Resume

When you’ve considered how you want to answer the questions, try and relate your answers to evidence you can find within your resume. Nothing ties together a stronger argument to hire you than you being able to reflect what you have learned and how you have developed, as well as being able to notice your flaws. When considering your flaws, try and highlight how this job will help you develop and concentrate on them alongside strengthening your existing skills. However, be careful in doing this, as they may think you are trying to freeload on their training and development opportunities. Something along these lines:

Although I’ve not previously worked in a managerial role, I have worked amongst many teams and have adopted somewhat of a leadership role, such as a project in [Company]’s Marketing Department. It will be a great challenge to myself, and I am at a position within my career where I am ready to take that step.

(Need help with your Resume? Check out 10 Tips on How to Craft the Perfect Resume)

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Prepare Yourself Mentally

Think about how many people you are competing against probably for one job. You need to prove not only to the company, but to yourself, that you are worthy of the role and that you deserve to have the job. Look through your experiences, your skill set, and highlight to yourself why you deserve the job, and what benefits you can bring to the company. This will have clear knock-on effects to your confidence, the way you present yourself, and will be noticed by those at the interview.

Pre-Interview Communications

This is one area people often forget to consider. You will be communicating with a company or interview prior to the interview, and these first impressions can have a serious impact on how they will consider you following and during the interview. If you’re applying to a large corporate firm, be formal in all communications with them, and thank them for the opportunity (not every time, but at least once!). Again, how you communicate with them will depend on the existing company culture, and this can be a great way to evaluate whether or not you feel the company will be a suitable fit for yourself. Also, if you are unsure, ask about the dress code of the interview. There’s nothing worse than turning up to an interview in suit to find everyone else in jeans and a polo shirt.

Interview Day

Dress the Part

Think about the interview process. You probably emailed a resume, corresponded via phone or email to book in the interview, and now you’ve arrived at the door. This is the first time they will physically see you. That said, your first impressions will be lasting. It’s important that you dress to impress, but also dress appropriately. If they say dress professionally, make sure your suit is clean and ironed, your belt and shoes match (a winning tip for any outfit!), and you are well groomed. Ladies, not too heavy on the make-up; a sleek, a natural look gives off a great elegant and sophisticated vibe, as well as confidence. The outfit isn’t everything though, make sure you have the body language to match (we’ll talk about this further on).

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Be on Time

So the day has come. Make sure you prepared your journey, have a fresh copy of your resume just in case, and you’re presentable and dressed appropriately. Give yourself adequate time to arrive there early, I always suggest trying to get there about 20 minutes early, and sign in or make it known that you are there. Although they probably will not see you earlier, them knowing that you are eager and that you have arrived on time, but not ridiculously early, is a sign of good organization skills. Many people will arrive early and wait until 5 minutes before to make it known that they have arrived, but you’re competing – take every minor advantage you can get.

Body Language

It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Everyone has heard a saying along those lines, but there is so much importance in it. I am aware of at least two people who have been turned down for a job because they seemed “too relaxed” or “not passionate enough” because of the way they were sitting in the interview. Keep your body language open and interested (sit up, shoulders back, open arms), and try not to fidget. Being in control of your body is a great way to show you are a confident. Some great ways to practice body language are to record yourself in a mock interview setting and analyze afterwards. Study public speakers and famous figures in interview settings (on  the news, talk shows, etc.) and see how they compose themselves and try to mimic them. Another great trick is to try and mimic the behaviors of the interviewer subtly. If you do this too obviously it can be very noticeable and somewhat off-putting, but in general people subconsciously mimic the behaviors of people they like as a form of trying to gain acceptance and trust. Although this normally happens fairly naturally, its a good thing to be aware of.

Be Confident, Be Honest

Following on a similar note from Body Language, be careful in the language you choose as well during the interview. Avoid weak phrases such as “I feel that…”, “I think that…” as they show doubt in your opinions. Rather, simply state “I am…”, “It is…” and it shows not only confidence in what you are saying, but that you have previously reflected and have created assertions based upon this (especially if the point is regarding past experiences or situations). With regards to honestly, do not lie about what your previous jobs entailed, but simply be honest with what you’ve achieved before and where you wish you could improve. By being dishonest you may open yourself up for danger in the future, if your expertise are ever called upon, and it will cause friction within the group dynamic of the workplace. Do not be ashamed if you feel like your achievements are little compared to others of the same age or field, everyone has to start somewhere!

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Prepare Questions

Do your homework on the company you’re applying to and have some questions prepared which are meaningful to you. Maybe consider whether or not the company culture is right for you, and ask about the office space and the dynamic of the office, or about work do’s-and-dont’s. If not that, maybe ask about what a typical day will entail, or how much autonomy you will have – whatever is important in a role to you. Not only will asking questions benefit you, it will show the interviewers that you are assessing your fit to the company, and will help make sure that both you and the company will mesh together well.

Summary

And there you have it, a few tips and tricks about handling the interview situation. I would say the biggest thing really to consider is confidence. Confidence is so important in so many ways as it will help you: a) Decide which companies are the right fit for all your aspects and you won’t simply rush into anything just because they offered you the job. b) Stand out during the interview process, but be sure you know the line between confidence and egotistical c) Keep you in the forefront of employer’s and interviewer’s minds in case opportunities arise elsewhere or in the future. Interviews are not necessarily just a yes/no, but can be great networking opportunities too. I wish you all the best with your interviews in the future, and hope you get the dream job and progress through your aspired career!

Featured photo credit: S. Charles via ununsplash.imgix.net

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Last Updated on January 13, 2020

Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

Are you challenged at work? Do you regret career decisions? Are you happy? If the answer to the questions leads to a negative feeling, it is time to determine next steps.

Many people settle for a career that no longer brings satisfaction. Most will respond by stating, “I am surviving” if a colleague asks them “How’s work?”

Settling for a job to pay bills and maintain a lifestyle is stagnation. You can re-direct the journey of a career with confidence by taking control of future decisions. After all, you deserve to be live a happy life that will offer a work-life balance.

Let’s look at the reasons why you need a career change and how to choose a career for a more fulfilling life.

How to Know if You Need a Career Change?

The challenges of dissatisfaction in a career can have a negative impact on our mental health. As a result, our mental health can lead to the obvious appearance of stress, aging, weight gain and internal health issues.

You deserve a career that will fulfill the inner desire of true happiness. Here are common factors that it is time for you to change your career.

Physical Signs

Are you aging since you started your job? Do you have anxiety? What about work-related injuries?

It feels amazing to receive a pay cheque, but you deserve to work in an environment that brings out the best of you. If the work environment is hazardous, speak to your boss about alternative options.

In the case that colleagues or your boss take advantage of your kindness, feeling the anxiety of fear of losing your job because of a high-stress environment may not be right for you.

Mental Signs

One out of five Americans has mental health issues, according to Mental Health America.[1] In most cases, it is related to stress.

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I remember working at a job in a work environment where harassment was acceptable. I had to walk on eggshells to avoid crossing the line with colleagues. My friends started to notice the difference in that I seemed out of character. It was then that I knew that changing a career to freelancing was the right decision.

Here is a list of mental signs of workplace unhappiness:

  • The tension in your neck
  • Difficulties with sleeping
  • Unable to concentrate
  • High anxiety
  • Depression

If you start to feel your self-esteem is diminishing, it is time to consider if working in a high-stress industry is for you. The truth is, this negative energy will be transferred to people in your life like friends and family.

Are You Sure You’re Not Changing for the Wrong Reason?

Most people that feel they need a career are frustrated with their situation at work. Do you really understand your current situation at work?

The reason it is important to think about the work situation is some people decide to change career for factors that are insignificant. Factors that can potentially change if the person works in a different department or new organization.

Here is a list of unimportant factors to think about before you decide to make the transition:

Desire for an Increase of Salary

The desire for a higher income can persuade some to believe they are in the wrong career. The issue with this is more money requires more time in the office or taking on several positions at a time.

At times, pursuing a high-income role can be the complete opposite of what one is expected. It is what happens when a colleague leaves a company to a new one and returns several years later.

Overnight Decision

Let’s face it. We make overnight decisions when stressed out or disappointed with situations at work. The problem with a quick decision is the negative and positive points is overlooked.

Rejected for a Promotion

I have heard stories of managers that applied ten times for a position throughout a 5-year period. Yes, it sounds to be a lengthy process, but at times, a promotion requires time. Avoid changing a career if you do not see the results of a promotion currently.

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Bored at Work

Think deeply about this point. If you work a job that is repetitive, it is normal to feel bored. You can spice it up by changing the appearance of your desk, socializing with new employees in a different department, joining a leadership committee at work or coming to work with enthusiasm. Sometimes, all it takes is you to change jobs into a fun situation.

A career change can take time, networking, education and the job search process can be a journey. Here is a list of things to consider before making a final decision:

  • How long have you worked in your career?
  • What is the problem at work? Do you work well with the team?
  • Do you receive recognition?
  • Can you consider working in a new department?

If after reviewing your work situation and none of the above recommendations can help, then it’s time to make a career change.

How a Career Change Will Change Your Life

I have a friend that works in the medical industry. She was once a nurse working directly with patients in one of the top hospitals in her area. After five years, she started to internalize the issues with her patients to the point where she felt depressed after work hours. It impacted her relationship with her family and she almost lost herself.

One day, she decided to wake up and take control of her destiny. She started applying for new medical jobs in the office. It meant working on medical documentation of patients which is not an ideal career based on what society expects a medical professional to perform. But she started to feel happier.

It is a classic example of a person that was negatively impacted by issues at work, stayed in the same industry but changed careers.

A career change can fulfill a lifelong dream, increase one’s self-esteem or revive the excitement for one’s work.

You know a career change can be the right decision to make if you experience one or all of these:

  • Working in a negative workplace: Don’t be discouraged. A negative workplace can be changed by working at a new organization.
  • Working with a difficult boss: The challenges of working with a difficult boss can be stressful. All it takes is communication. You can address the issue directly with a manager professionally and respectfully.
  • Feeling lost about what you do: Most people stay at their jobs and settle for mediocrity because of the fear of failure or the unknown. The rise to success often comes with working a tedious role or stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. If you fear the idea of being involved in activities that are new, remember that life is short. Mediocrity will only continue to make you feel as if life is passing you by.

How to Make a Career Change Successfully

The ultimate key to success is to go through a career transition step by step to avoid making the wrong decision.

1. Write a Career Plan

A career plan has a dead line for action steps that includes taking new courses, learning a new language, networking or improving issues at work.[2] A career plan should be kept in your wallet because it will motivate you to keep pursuing the role.

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You can learn how to set your career plan here.

2. Weigh Your Options

If you have a degree in Accounting, write down five positions in this industry of interest. The good news is diplomas and degrees can be used to a variety of roles to choose.

You don’t have to stick to what society holds a top job. In the end, choosing the right role that will make you happy is priceless.

3. Be Real About the Pros and Cons

It is time to be honest about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the job market that are impacting the current situation.

A SWOT Analysis of a career can include:[3]

  • Economic factors
  • Direct competition: Is this role in high demand?
  • Location: Do you need to move? If the goal is to work in tech and living in Cincinnati is not realistic, consider moving to San Francisco.
  • Achievements: To stand out from the competition achievements like awards, committee involvement, freelance work or volunteering is a recipe for success.
  • Education: Do you need to go back to school? Education can be expensive. However, online courses, webinars or self-study is an option.

    A career blueprint is the first step to creating realistic goals. A person without goals will be disappointed without a clear direction of what to do next.

    4. Find a Mentor or Career Coach

    A mentor or a career coach that works in the desired position can share the pros and cons of working in the role. Here is a list of questions to ask a mentor:

    • What is required to be successful in the role?
    • What certification or educational development is needed?
    • What are the challenges of the role?
    • Is there potential for career advancement?

    A chat at a coffee shop with a mentor can change your mind about the desire for a career change.

    Find out how to pick a good mentor for yourself in this article: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

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    5. Research Salary

    Some people decide to change careers for a role that pays less or perks like benefits to make up for the difference in previous to potential salary.

    It can reveal the cities throughout the country that offer a higher salary for those that have an interest in relocating for work.

    6. Be Realistic

    If your goal is to move up into an executive position, it is time to be honest about where you are in your career.

    For example, if boardroom meetings, high-level discussions about financials or attending weekly networking events are boring, an executive role may not be right for you. If you are an introvert and working with people every day is nerve wrecking, you need to reconsider a job in sales.

    Ask yourself if you can work in this role for the next five years of your life. If other benefits that come with the role are enticing, other roles are fit that will make you happy.

    7. Volunteer First

    A person that wants to become a manager should take on volunteer opportunities to experience the reality of the position.

    Becoming a committee member to pursue a presidential opportunity can provide a perspective on leadership, maintaining a budget and public speaking.

    Volunteer in a role until you are certain that it is the right opportunity.

    8. Prepare Your Career Tools

    I recommend asking a boss, colleague or mentor for career tools. If you prefer professional assistance, you can seek out resume writing assistance. Here is a list of things to consider when preparing career tools:

    • Online search: Search your name online to see what shows up. I recommend searching images that are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or other sites on a personal account. The last thing you want to realize is the job search is unsuccessful because there is unprofessional content you posted online.
    • Be LinkedIn ready: Recruiters conduct a LinkedIn search to see if the work experience is the same on a resume. Remember to change the wording on LinkedIn from the resume, or it will appear there was no effort put into creating the profile.
    • Portfolio: A portfolio of work is recommended for people that work in the arts, writing, graphic design and other fields. I recommend a portfolio online and one that is available in hand when attending job interviews or networking meetups.
    • Cover letter: A good cover writer will always impress your potential employers. Here’s how to write a killer cover letter that stands out from others.

    Bottom Line

    It takes time to move towards a new career. Pay attention to the physical and mental signs to maintain your health. You deserve to work in happiness and come home stress-free. If you avoid the common mistakes people make, you will find a job and discover the role in a career field that is the best fit with your skillsets.

    Master these action steps and changing career paths will be on your terms to make the best decision for your future.

    More About Career Change

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

    [1] Mental Health America: The State of Mental Health in America
    [2] MIT Global Education & Career Development: Make a Career Plan
    [3] Creately: Personal SWOT Analysis to Assess and Improve Yourself

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