Two days ago, I went on a job interview.
Yup, that’s right, a real live interview.
It was for a position that I have done before in a different location. I loved that job. Would have done it forever, if I could have. And so, when I saw a duplicate position open up here, I jumped at the chance.
But I felt added pressure, because hey, I’m also a Career Coach. Everyone knows that about me, and it says it on my résumé. I feel that now I have to do everything better than perfect, because now others have such high expectations of me. And let’s be honest, if you heard that I had bombed a job interview, what would you think of my coaching skills?
I thought you might be interested in how I prepared for this interview. Me – the supposed expert on job search strategy.
I spent a great deal of time preparing my résumé and cover letter; highlighting previous experience in the position, making sure to use the important keywords, listing the best of my accomplishments and successes in my past career – as they relate to this particular position. (Note: when a résumé writer or book says to list your accomplishments, they don’t mean a grocery list of everything you’ve ever done. What they are trying to tell you is that you should emphasize the successes and accomplishments the decision maker needs to hear. Is this a data entry position? Then listing how you typed a 600-page book for your previous publisher employer at 70wpm is important. The fact that you organized the office Christmas party might not be.)
I agonized over the cover letter. Did it “sell” me well? Did it convince the HR manager to turn the page to read my résumé?
Then I spent two more days proofing. Printing it out, scratching it up, doing the edits, and starting all over again. And again. Reading it aloud, and editing it all over again.
Finally, I said a quick prayer and sent the package off. But not just into the stratosphere. No, I had someone I knew well who worked at that organization hand-deliver it to the correct person.
Then I waited. Stressed and waited some more.
And yes, even a seasoned professional career coach can get the job search butterflies.
By chance, one day at Starbucks (I spend a lot of time there) I saw one of my potential coworkers getting a cup of coffee. I chatted him up and asked him how work was going. After a bit of conversation, he mentioned the “powers that be” had gone on vacation and wouldn’t be back for two weeks.
So I waited some more. But at least now I could wait without stressing about not getting an interview. . . yet.
Finally, oh joy of joys, I got THE call! I had an interview.
Then, my real work began.
I prepared my SMART stories for how they related to this position. (Actually, I did this while I was waiting for the call for the interview. Prepping helped deal with the stress.) I practiced by saying them out loud.
I thought about the questions I was most likely to be asked. And what my response should be.
I created a portfolio to take with me to the interview. In my portfolio I included additional copies of my cover letter and résumé, copies of past glowing evaluations, examples of my work, certificates of related training, and multiple letters of appreciation/recommendation – from previous colleagues, clients, and supervisors.
But what was most important were two different articles I prepared. One was a list of past accomplishments categorized as they specifically related to the duties of this particular position. And second, was a list of potential project ideas I had for the position with explanations on how I would implement them, again broken down by category. This is where I spent the bulk of my time preparing for this interview.
Then, I prepped me.
I did all those things women do when they want to make a good impression. I pulled out my favorite suit from my pre-baby days and did my dance of joy when it actually fit and looked good. I dyed my hair to get rid of the gray I had been ignoring. I got my nails and toes done. No, no one will see my feet as I wore dress boots under my suit, but it makes me feel good, and I wanted that added boost. I showered (Note: You might think it silly I point this out. Sadly from my recruiter days, I could tell you stories of candidates who came into my office with body odor issues. So folks, please shower and use deodorant.) and spent a good deal of time getting my makeup perfect. (Again with makeup. Please don’t overdo it. Get a professional to show you how to use it if you don’t know how.) I picked out the best jewelry accessories, which for this company would be very conservative, small, nothing dangling or gaudy.
And here is a bit of humorous advice. Pee before you go. People always laugh when I tell them this. But to me, there is nothing worse than being uncomfortable through an interview because you drank that huge cup of coffee right before you walked in. And sitting there feeling uncomfortable is only going to make you look like you’re uncomfortable being in the room. I think you’d would rather they perceive you as being calm and confident, wouldn’t you? (Note: If they offer you a drink before the interview, feel free to accept. Just don’t gulp it down, because hey, you don’t want it to hit you while you’re busy talking to the CEO. Just sip it slowly to keep your mouth from going dry.)
And off I went. I made sure to leave in plenty of time to get there, even if there was major traffic. I had the car full of gas from the day before, so I didn’t have to worry about filling up on the way.
And I got there with perfect timing. Just about four minutes before they were ready to begin. Just enough time to make friends with the receptionist before they called me in.
You must be wondering how the interview itself went. Now, that is a hilarious story, but one I can’t tell right now. I’m still waiting to hear . . .