Career Coach: Tell Me About Yourself
Interviews are all about getting to know someone. I explained to my niece it is a conversation and an exchange of information. It is not just about you. Find out as much as you can about the people who interview you. There may be clues in their office–a family photo, pictures on the walls, diplomas, or awards. Think about starting a relationship with the people you interview with. What do they like most about working at the company? How long have they worked there? Where are they from? You might be able to get some of this information from professional networking sites like Linkedin.
Erika asked why it is so important to send a handwritten thank you note after an interview. It is not only a good practice of etiquette to thank someone for the time they spent with you, but it is a good follow up because you will stand out and be remembered. When was the last time you received a handwritten note via snail mail?
One of the reasons to network with people and stay in touch with them is because people are more apt to want to hire or work with people they know.
Go to industry related events and meet people in your industry. You can also do research while you network at an event, via social media or through other methods. Ask your friends and associates questions about the company you want to work for.
Getting involved in networking events or in groups on social media sites like Linkedin will help Erika build relationships with people at the company she wants to work for and gain insider info on what the company is really like. She can learn what they really need, which will give her a chance to prepare and know how to answer those tough interview questions-- especially “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Will the company she wants to work for now have enough growth opportunities for her to stay for five years, if that is her desire? A company with a narrower focus may not be able to offer her what she desires. Her research should help her determine what company is right for her. When she finds the right fit, she should be prepared to answer the interview questions with passion and help the interviewer get to know her. The interviewer is looking for someone who can do the job (her skills), who is willing (her enthusiasm), and who is the right fit (her personality and knowledge of the company).
After her coaching session, Erika was ready to answer that question “Tell me about yourself” by sharing her passions and enthusiasm for the job and the company and think about where she wants to be in five years. Whether it is with the company she is interviewing with or for someone else, it’s good to have a long range plan so she knows whether the job she is applying for will help her reach those goals.
By the way, Erika called me today to tell me she got a job in Waupaca, Wisconsin, working as a landscape architect for a small design firm.
Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a career coach specializing in helping creative people succeed. She also recruits for companies in visual effects, animation, games and design. She speaks at schools and conferences about how to create a career you love. To reach her for private consultations, recruiting or speaking engagements, email PamRecruit@q.com.