Over the past 6 months I’ve been on the hiring end of some of the worst interviews I care to remember, and a select few that both captivated my attention and made me awestruck. Although I can’t go into the details of the bad interviews I’ve sat in on, I wanted to ensure that job seekers that are either in our industry or want to break into it come prepared to impress.
Here are seven tips on how to land a job in the online space.
1. Dress to Impress
The online space is notorious for dressing down, but hiring managers and prospective employers take interviews seriously. You’ll rarely be criticized for over-dressing (although it has happened to me), so make sure to make a good first impression. You can dress down on a follow-up interview, if you make it that far.
2. Be Social
The crowd in the online space is naturally social, so put yourself out there on Twitter, LinkedIn or start your own blog. For best results, try to keep personal content and drunken disorderly pictures on Facebook behind strict access permissions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve extended invitations to people that I’ve met socially at tradeshows or mixers or industry nights that have been vetted through peers in the industry long before reaching out for a first interview.
3. Show an Interest in the Industry and Organization You Want to Join
Working in an online channel is one of the most interesting places to be right now, so bring that shared enthusiasm to your interview. You’ll likely be asked the question, “what sparked your interest in this role?” and if you have no spark, it is painstakingly obvious. Some of the best candidates I’ve met were able to go off on tangents discussing new gadgets, social networking, recent blog posts from industry leaders, and books they’ve been reading.
4. Take Advantage of Soft Skills That Fit Online Roles
Don’t be embarrassed to admit you don’t have all of the technical skills listed on a job description. Some of the best interviewees I have met admit up-front the things they can and can’t do, and it goes a long way to increasing your credibility. Individuals that tend to rank higher in emotional intelligence are very sought-after because soft skills are often shared amongst strong leaders and lost on extremely technical people.
5. Market to Your Strengths and Prepare to Discuss Concrete Examples of Your Past Success
Let’s face it; people tend to blow a lot of smoke, especially in online circles. Anyone can claim to have done all kinds of things in a previous life, but few have the numbers, reports, diagrams, and process flows to back it up. Don’t be afraid to blank out the names of the innocent (your previous employer) and bring that evidence to your next interview. If you can show that your past experience directly impacts your interviewer’s prospective role, you are as good as gold. In addition, marketing your past success may help you to avoid a follow-up homework assignment that pit candidates against each other.
6. Ask Exploratory Questions
You have to ask at least three exploratory questions of the interviewer, because they are likely holding back some useful tidbits of advice, information, or insight into your prospective role. In addition, it lets your interviewer know that you aren’t just going through the motions; that you actually want to determine your own fate, especially if you’re looking to abandon your current position with another company. It’s risky to change jobs, so make sure the grass is truly greener on the other side.
7. Be Early, Be Patient, and Stay Professional
Really three tips in one, but all equally important to make a good first, second, third and nth impression.
Arrive early to your interview, but not so early that your interviewer doesn’t get a chance to grab their morning coffee or finish their lunch. Be patient in the process, especially with larger organizations that require prospective interviewees to meet several stakeholders in the process.
Expect to interview between 4-10 times with just as many unique interviewees. Each time, you will be expected to exhibit a good fit with the culture, as well as a familiarity with your interviewees function and how it relates to the prospective role (sales, marketing, operations, I.T., communications, human resources, product development, etc).
In technology giants such as Google, interview questions are often off-the-wall, highly technical, or ludicrously complicated. Don’t get discouraged by tough questions; think on your feet and break down the problem, verbalizing your rationale, and make fair assumptions. Interviewers often want to learn how you learn and problem solve.
Whatever you do, don’t ask your prospective hiring manager how long it would take to have their job. Sadly, it has happened.
Care to share any other tips you may have when interviewing, or have any weird interview experiences in the past? Let us know in the comments below.