Branding Yourself for the Job Search: The Interview
So far I have made a couple of blog posts in regards to branding. Branding and how/why to consider building a personal brand; and branding yourself on social media. This is a follow up post to those two topics. Branding yourself does not end with your social media, believe it or not. Branding actually never goes away (remember, you are this person every day). Branding yourself for the interview is your first real life, in the flesh opportunity to follow through on the brand you have established elsewhere. Hopefully, if you are job seeking, you will find this post helpful with a few traditional and new tricks to remember for your next opportunity to brand yourself accurately to your future employer!
- Be Yourself: As a recruiter, I shy away from doing much interview prep. Why? I could tell you everything I know about the company and my contacts there. I could ask you questions that I think that they will ask you. This would be very helpful for you, the jobseeker, right? While I promise I’m not trying to keep you from succeeding, I don’t want to coach you. I want you to walk in there and be who you are, because after the interview is over and you begin your new career, that person will be the person that the company sees every day.
- Imperfections are Perfect: Recently, I have had the wonderful opportunity of contracting for a client through observing behavioral assessments. There have been a few times, however, when I have been “assessing” someone and some red flags were raised. It was only later that I learned that the person displaying that behavior had been through a similar process before. So why would their behavior be interpreted to me as a red flag? Didn’t they say everything right? Well yes. And that was the problem. While there is certainly nothing wrong with being coached, if you expect imperfect behavior and receive almost perfect behavior (and because HR are no where perfect themselves) it immediately throws the interviewer off. Unfortunately, unless the interviewer can put those factors together (which is hard if you don’t have all of the background information), more than likely, the interviewer will wonder what is really going on.
- Dress for Success: We are used to hearing this term, “dress for success” and more than likely, if you are interviewing, you know what to wear. Or you attend a seminar or workshop that gives you tips on the subject. Obviously, no pajamas (and this concept DOES APPLY when you are just filling out an application-FYI). However, your success also does depend on what career path you are on. While I have never heard an employer complain about a good suit and tie, that is not always necessary. If you are seeking a job that requires a uniform, consider khakis. Simple, clean cut and neutral, khakis really allow the company to envision you wearing their brand.
- “Name A Time When…”: Ah yes, the behavioral question. Employers are starting to use behavioral questions more frequently. If you have avoided them thus far, a behavioral question usually starts with “name a time” and ends with “what was the result?” While behavioral questions gives the employer insight on how you reacted to similar situations before, they are tricky for the interviewee. The key to answering behavioral questions is to give a very specific example of a time when you encountered a similar problem within your working environment and giving a step by step resolution that ends positively.
- In Five Years? Yeah, I See Myself As A Millionaire!: Ambitious, right? HA! More than likely, you have been asked a similar question. If you are asked this question during an interview, please DO NOT tell them that you see yourself as millionaire. That is impractical, and very improbable (yes, my dreams are crushed too). Instead, give them a detailed plan of how you see yourself as a long-term employee of the company you are interviewing with. While this does not require an entire Keynote to achieve, it is best to have a plan that mutually benefits you and the company.
- Turning A Negative Into A Positive: Things happen in the private sector. It is very unlikely that you have found yourself in a position at some point in time in which you may have amicably left the employer, or you were not a good fit for the position (either initially or even after a long time). Companies and company cultures change. And that is okay. If you do happen to find yourself in this situation, it is important to turn a negative situation into a positive. Using “not a good fit” is more than likely always an acceptable answer to employers because they too, understand change.
- Do Not Play the Blame Game: Building on the concept of turning a negative into a positive, please always remember that situations happen every single day. As a recruiter, I am never going to judge someone on what they say to me. I guess that is a carry-over from the Career Center. However, please do not go into an interview and blame anyone for what happened with your last job. It is never anyone’s fault and when you say those things to a company, it reflects very poorly on your brand as a whole. In fact, avoid negativity entirely!
I hope that I have shed some light onto the tricky topic of Interview Branding. Please feel free to comment below with your own suggestions on what you have found helpful or hurtful during the interviewing process. Or, let me know if you have personally used any of these tips and if you found them helpful.
-Ann K. Wyatt