During my career, I’ve had the opportunity to interview job hopefuls for my office. Of course, in the past, I’ve also had the opportunity to sit on the other side of the table as well as an applicant. Lately, interviewing techniques and tips have been on my mind.
As you visit our job board here, the goal is to secure a job. Granted, the jobs here are all freelance, work at home jobs. However, when you submit your online application, your online proposal becomes an interview. Many of the same tips to success in a live interview can still apply to this online process.
Also, keep in mind that with the current progress in technology, it’s still possible to have a remote, teleconferenced interview that is just as good as a live, in person interview.
With these thoughts in mind, here are some tips and techniques to help you give a successful interview and get the job of your choice.
Make Sure You’re Qualified for the Job
Virtually every job posting I’ve ever seen lists the qualifications for the position. So, if the job is in web development, it will list the required skills and background that the employer wants in someone for that position. On occasion, I will see an applicant that does not have any background or training for the position. While they are enthusiastic and assure me of their dedication to learn, enthusiasm and desire just can’t make up for a lack of skills.
Know the Requirements of the Position
Every once in a while, I will have someone come in for an interview and part way through they will look surprised when I explain some of the requirements of the position and ask if there was any way I could accommodate them because they can’t perform of the duties the position requires.
So, for example, if someone applies for an assistant position. They come in for an interview. It starts off well, while they tell me how organized they are and what a great people person they are, and how good they are at working the phones. Then midway through as I explain how they have to transcribe letters or documents, they ask me if there was a way that they could do something else other than that because they don’t know how to type, they’ve just wasted their time and mine.
Be Prepared to Sell Yourself
Remember when you go in for a job interview, you are making a sales pitch for yourself. This is not the time to downplay yourself. Highlight your skills and experience. Also, be prepared to show me how you are unique amongst all the other applicants.
Some of the qualities that employers are seeking are enthusiasm for the job as well as being qualified. Show that you are really excited about this opportunity to showcase your skills for me. If you have an online portfolio, you should provide a link to your previous work so that I can visit and review your other projects. If you have a writing sample, bring it along to the interview, or send it as an attachment.
Keep in mind that you are not the only person applying for the position. You should assume that everyone applying for the job meets the minimum qualifications for the position. You need to show why you are better than the minimum qualifications! If you are still building your portfolio and lack the experience, then play up your personal skills. Explain why you will be more dedicated, harder working, and more enthusiastic!
Tell a Good Story
Often times the question will come up, “Why do you want this position?” There are many fine answers to this question. But a part of selling yourself is to tell a compelling story. If you have a story about how you loved computers ever since you were a little kid, building machines in your parents garage, and how that led you on the path to web development, it is much more personal. The key to any good sales pitch is to be able to make that personal connection with the potential buyer.
Be Prepared to Explain Your Long Term Goals
This may not be as important for a freelancer, however I still think it makes a difference to be able to explain to your potential employer your long term goals. As an employer, I want to know that you are not going to just be a fly by night employer. I want to know that you care about your work and you want some longevity to your work. Even as a freelancer, you’ll want your potential employer know that you are interested in working with them again on future projects.
Above all else, let them know that your plan is to gain a foothold and stay in the same niche as the job position. I really hate it when I ask a job applicant their long term goals and I get a response along the lines of “I want to get some experience so that I can go out on my own and start my own company or work for someone else.” Seriously?!! Maybe that answer is passable for a freelance position, but it certainly doesn’t give me any feeling of security that you are going to stick around.
For example, if you are applying for a job at Apple, don’t tell them your long term goal is to get some experience so that some day you can get a job over at Microsoft. Bad answer!
Tell them your long term goal is to become a great Apple programmer! Some day you want to develop the next great Apple operating system! Or the next awesome iphone! You can tell them about your big dreams. But most importantly emphasize that you really want to work with them for the long term, or in the case of freelancing, tell them you want to build a long term partnership and continue working with them in the future.
Practice Your Interview
It’s always nerve wracking to go into a job interview. You are selling yourself to strangers. You may be hit with questions that you didn’t expect. There may be insightful questions or difficult questions to solve some kind of strange problem. Nerves may get you stuttering or stumbling around. The best way to get past this is to practice for your interview ahead of time. Have a friend or family member ask you some interview questions and practice answering them.
You can practice going over hypothetical questions. Your practice partner can give you pointers and help you prepare. This will go a long way in helping you give a calm and composed interview.
Prepare Some Insightful Questions
Some of my most impressive interviews have been when the interviewee asks me some insightful questions. One of the best and most simple question is “What are you looking for in an future employee?”
Questions such as that show me that you have a genuine interest in meeting my needs. Remember that the employer’s goal is not to give you training or teach you how to move on to your next job. Their goal is to make sure the needs of their own company is met. Questions let me know that you are insightful and have a curiosity towards learning about the position and helping me out. These are qualities that I am looking for in an employee.
All of these tips have a common theme. Above all else, be prepared! You are your own product. An interview is nothing more than a sales pitch for yourself. Believe in yourself, highlight your good points. Let me know that you are going to stick around. It is the same as selling a product. Explain to the customer why they want to buy your product and how it is the best thing to meet their needs and will serve their purposes for years to come!