Our hiring process at Go Fish Digital is something we’ve always been careful about. We’re not snobs, but we are obsessed with the idea of creating the perfect team. Our interview process is a part of how we do that. While I am by no means the most seasoned interviewer in the world, I’ve conducted probably a couple of hundred phone screens for Go Fish. By now, I can usually tell within two minutes whether a candidate is a good fit to go on to the next round.
While I’m reluctant to share exactly what Go Fish is looking for during an interview (that would take all the fun out of applying, after all), I’m happy to share some of my best advice for interviewees. Whether you’re interviewing for a role at Go Fish or elsewhere, these pointers should serve you well.
Make a good first impression
Lots of companies conduct an initial phone screen. This, unfortunately, puts you at a disadvantage because no one can see your amazing wardrobe or charming smile over the phone. Make sure to put in a little extra effort with that call, and it will start you down the right path. Answering with, “Hello, this is [your name]” is a great way to start off, especially if you’ve got a name with an unusual pronunciation. And pay attention to the old telemarketing trick of smiling into the phone. It might sound a little unorthodox, but interviewers really can hear it, and it sets a pleasant tone for the call.
I also recommend that you do something to form a bit of a rapport. Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer how their day is going or inquire about any plans for the weekend. Doing that is a great jumping off point for the conversation you’re about to have and it makes you memorable. Just remember to keep it brief – you’re there for a purpose, and you don’t want to waste your interviewer’s time.
Set the scene (in a video interview)
If your interview is being conducted online, make sure you dress professionally and stage the area where you plan to interview. Make your space look attractive and tidy by clearing the background of anything embarrassing or controversial and ensuring that the lighting is sufficient to keep you from being washed out or in deep shadow. Basically, you should treat your home like a TV studio where they are filming a show called, “Courtney Has A Job Interview!”
Make it a conversation
Rather than waiting until the end of your interview, ask questions as they occur to you. A good interview flows like a conversation, and getting into a nice back-and-forth flow is the ultimate goal. If all the interviewer wanted was to fire questions at you, they could have simply sent over a Google Form and saved everyone the trouble of putting on a tie.
Really listen to the questions
I have a semi-weird question I like to ask on a first phone call with candidates. I tell my interviewees that it’s almost like the “greatest strength/weakness” question, but it isn’t quite the same, and that the answer I’m looking for is different. And still, lots of people respond by telling me that “my greatest strength is caring, and my greatest weakness is caring too much”.
One reason I ask this question is that I sincerely want the answer. But, I also want to throw you off your game just a little bit. What I want is to hear how you’ll respond to a question you haven’t rehearsed for. This tells me how good you are at thinking on your feet and responding to the unexpected. But, if you respond with the age-old greatest strength/weakness answer, I’ll know you really weren’t listening to my question. If you’re not listening closely to me on an interview call, I wonder, how will you hear and respond to the needs of your clients or colleagues?
Ask questions of your own
There is no way that a “help wanted” ad can tell you everything you want to know about a job. Everyone has a dealbreaker that will make them pull out of the interview process, whether it’s the hours or the dress code or the expectation that you will work hanging upside down from a trapeze. So, ask about it! Interviewers can tell when you’ve just pulled three questions from a list you found on the internet, so put some thought and some honesty into your queries. Remember, even though the company is interviewing you, you are also interviewing them.
If you want improved work-life balance, ask how the company prevents employee burnout. If you’re changing jobs in order to move up the ladder, ask about how team members tend to advance into leadership positions. If you’re hoping for a company with better benefits, then, by all means, get the tea on those bennies!
Asking a real question about something that matters to you shows that you are seriously considering the company interviewing you. It also gives the interviewer a sense of what matters most to you, which can be terribly important as they try to determine whether or not you’ll be a good fit and enjoy being with the company for the long haul.
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Conducting interviews is a mixed bag. When it goes badly, it’s my least favorite part of my job. But when it goes great, I come away newly energized and excited about the possibility of a fantastic new team member. Here’s hoping that my humble advice takes you where you want to be.