Tips and Tricks for a Successful Interview

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Getting a job is not only extremely stressful but a bit on the confusing side. It’s not really a class you take in high school to be prepared for (at least not when I went) so it’s more of a ‘jump in and get your feet wet’ kind of thing. Except applying and interviewing for a job is more like jumping headfirst into the deep end. One thing I greatly appreciate about having a restaurant management job under my belt is that I was trained by professionals on the art of hiring and interviewing.

Let me tell you, it is just as nerve racking being on the other side of the desk asking questions if that gives any of you solace.

Applying for jobs has always been a struggle for me. While I have great references and a couple great positions under my belt I don’t always have the experience people are looking for. I always get infuriated, yelling at my boyfriend (because unfortunately he is in the crossfires) “if they would just interview me they would love me!” While I might not be able to aide you in getting the interview (because I’m still learning that one myself) I am confident in my interview skills.

If you are feeling nervous or just want a little reminder of tips and tricks then just keep on reading!

Dress the Part
Now this does not mean put on a tux or dress for every interview. There are people who won’t hire you if you are too dressed (yes, that really is a thing). Be aware of the job you are applying for and dress the part. I always tell people to look at the position you are wanting and then dress a level higher. For instance, if you are applying for a server (a jean and t-shirt type of gig) then dress for a manager position. This means a pair of pants and a nice blouse or button up. If you have a nice pair of denim (meaning no rips, frays, or holes) that can even be acceptable.

Remember, the first thing your future employer is going to be seeing is YOU! While we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover the cold hard truth is that we do; especially people who are interviewing you for their company.

Be Personable
So many people come in with a script reading mentality. While you should practice certain questions you should still be yourself! Employers are looking heavily on your personality to see if you will fit well with the rest of the company. Smile and laugh (and it’s okay to crack a few professional jokes). It is intimidating but try to envision this person as a friend of your parents. You want to be polite but also act like you can integrate well.

A trick; I usually try to find a spot to talk about a hobby of mine or a fun story of an event I did with my boyfriend or friend. They like to hear that you have a life outside of work.

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Make Your Weakness A Strength
“So tell me some of your weaknesses?” I used to dread this question. I would sit in a dead silence feeling clammy hands start to form. One great thing my mother taught me is to pick something that can be used as a strength as well; and tell the truth (to a degree). One of my greatest weaknesses is that I wear my emotions on my sleeve. However I spin it that I can be too invested sometimes (more professional) but that can be a strength because it means I care more about the job at hand.

Pick a true weakness, make it sound a little less scary, and explain how it is one of your strengths as well. Worst comes to worst; google it! There are a ton of interview questions online with amazing answers. Just make sure they match you otherwise it might be hard to remember in an interview.

Don’t Fidget
They notice, trust me. It is okay to be nervous. I remember at one of my biggest interviews (which I already knew the boss kind of) I even told him I was a bit nervous. He told me that EVERYONE is but as long as you say everything with enough confidence and don’t fidget then no one will notice. You don’t have to sit stiff, but don’t move around like a kid who just got their first taste of espresso.

Don’t Lie
It’s okay to improve your speech or exaggerate a little, but don’t out and out lie. More than not they usually can tell and it always ends up biting you in the butt. You don’t have experience for the position? Don’t say you do, just say that you are a fast learner and have a base understanding (only if you do, of course). They aren’t looking for perfect! As a matter of fact I’ve had people hire me BECAUSE I didn’t have as much experience. Sometimes it is easier to mold a new person then to rewire what is already there.
 
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Be the Best Version of Yourself
Above all, be yourself. Laugh, smile, compliment, and ask questions. Remember how you would get into trouble at school for talking? That is not the case in an interview. People like someone who seems happy and personable. Those people usually are the ones who get the job! Practice with a friend or family member beforehand if you need help getting comfortable. Interviewing is a skill in itself, and practice never hurts!

Show Up Early
Lastly, show up 10 minutes early to your interview. Even if you are sitting for those 10 minutes it always makes you look better. I had a boss who always said, “If you are on time then you’re late. If you are 15 minutes early then you’re on time”. This is the first impression, you don’t want to show them you are late on this first meet and greet.

Just remember to be yourself and try your hardest to enjoy the experience. It sucks, but the worst outcome is you didn’t get the job (but you at least got interview practice). Thank them with a smile and handshake and, if you don’t hear back after a few days, it is okay to call and just thank them again so that your name is rolling around in their brain.

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