This blog is all about interview advice and connections based on my experiences and successes with interviews. I hope that you find something useful in reading this. We’re all unique so this is not a list of tips to memorize but a different perspective on approaching interviews and connecting with people that might help you think outside of the box. Note that for this reason, I’ll not go over basics such as what to wear or reading the background of the company you’re interviewing for.
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Many times, people ask me how I approach interviews. I’ve been lucky by having a lot of experiences interviewing for all kinds of jobs ranging from babysitting to internships and anything related to my professional career.
The most important thing is to know your audience. Let’s start with the hardest judges: parents. If you’re going for a babysitting interview, you’ll face a parent who worries about his/her children’s safety. Stepping into the parent’s shoes will help you understand how to respond to the parent’s concerns. Giving enough information about yourself and your ordinary life is important in that kind of situation because parents want to know first who you are as a person. Of course, you need to have the necessary skills to take care of children. Assuming that most people have those skills already, why do they fail the interview? The short answer is because they approach it as any other job. Babysitting is not “any other job” it is almost identical to the job of the mother, so having the skills (like CPR and first aid etc.) is not enough to get the job. You need to have passion and energy to meaningfully engage with children. You need to be able to read cues, play and understand where to draw the limits for their safety. In order to be successful at babysitting interviews: show your personality, don’t try to impress but try to connect with both the parent and the child, develop the ability to think fast and the ability to solve problems (such as how can you make a kid wear their pajamas creatively when they refuse to do it to how to deal with siblings fighting, injuries etc.). A good exercise and many times a question that comes up on these types of interviews is: “What would you do etc. in the following scenario?” Kids are unpredictable and the more you practice creatively solving situations of crisis, tantrums etc. and looking for the causes of them, the more successfully you’ll pass interviews and get a deeper understanding of the job. At the same time, you’ll get better at taking care of children and making the most of your time with the children without any unpredictable miss happenings. Trust is key. To develop trust it takes more than skill, it takes passion, energy, love for your job, imagination, creativity and the ability to adapt to the family’s environment. In one sentence: Be an adult but play like a kid.
Now most people reading this, might not be interested in a babysitting job. However, there is something to learn from the above about interviews and connections in general. When you go to an interview for a company or any other organization, you have to remember that there are other people with the same or better skillsets trying to also get the job. So why you? Once you have the skillsets down, it’s all about your personality. Your ability to see the person interviewing you not as a “robot” asking questions but as a human. How can you attract his/her attention and make them see something “different” in you? From the moment you enter, your smile, your tone of voice, your hand and body gestures show sings of who you are. If you are open and welcoming, you bring with you a sense of comfort and familiarity to the interviewer, thus making the interview more pleasant and also showing an aspect of your personality. If you’re passionate about something in life (even if unrelated to the job) you can bring it up (in small bits) as part of the conversation of who you really are and why hiring you will contribute to a healthier social environment for that company. Funny enough, there is something to learn here: like mothers, interviewers are looking for people with skills, personality and people who they can trust. Sitting there and going over your resume without giving the story behind what you have done is a liner narrative that doesn’t make you stand out. Sitting there, making conversation, asking questions, trying to find common things with the speaker and giving a non-linear story of your achievements makes you stand out. In other words, don’t be intimidated by the interviewer and give them a piece of information they don’t expect, something to remember from your life beyond how skillful you’re for the position. BE YOU. If the job was for a machine with skills, then they wouldn’t hire a person.
Ending with a note about connections. You won’t “need” everyone in life but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t connect with everyone. There is always something to learn and grow from the people around you. When you attend events, lectures, anything that you found interesting look to connect with these people after the event etc. You can do it by keeping their information and adding them on Linkedln or if you’re brave (and you should be) go introduce yourself after the event ends. These people actually care to know that their audience was engaged in the lecture, hearing etc. and always welcome young and old people’s feedback or compliments. Showing interest, shaking a hand etc. even if it doesn’t get you anywhere, it’ll never hurt you. Don’t forget that you might get some rejections until you get the final “yes” but as long as you go back and examine how you can become better, then there is nothing to be disappointed about. Learn. Grow. Succeed. Never give up.
For more tips or advice on this topic, contact me and I would be happy to hear your thoughts, stories etc.