Yesterday, I went on an interview for a new position. Before I went, the hr manager emailed me and said “please be sure to bring a portfolio with samples of your work.” This is a reasonable request as before a company hires you, they want to see what you’re made of. This caused me to come up with some advice to share for other people interviewing as I am:
1. Be different than your competitor.
Like I mentioned, I was told to bring my portfolio of work. I did. I took it one step further though and I brought my iPad to supplement my work as well. Now, the hr manager was able to look at my writing samples (press releases, blog postings, etc.) through my portfolio. Thinking ahead though, I was able to show her the outdoor media campaign that I had created at one of my last jobs. The benefit of this is that she got to see the billboard in its bright colors and get a feel for what it looked like besides for it just being on paper. I was able to explain that this was a concept I created, took the initiative on and was able to run with. My prior company had never had an outdoor media campaign before and I got to showcase my work right off of their website.
2. Anticipate your future employers needs.
I was going for a social media/pr coordinator position. Before my interview, I checked out their press releases and different social media channels. During my interview, I mentioned that I had looked at them and I had some ideas on how I could improve the channels ROI and help create a bigger buzz for them. The hr manager then asked me what I would have done different. I told her that there was nothing I would do different, as the person who had this job held it for three years, left on good standing and I didn’t want to offend them. I mentioned that they built a great foundation and knowing myself, I explained the areas that I could help improve on and make them better for the company as a whole.
3. Why does this company stand out to you?
When interviewing with the hr manager, she mentioned to me that the company has a lot of “social responsibility” and they are very proud of that. I instinctively put my hand up to my chest and smiled and she noticed and said “social responsibility moves you, doesn’t it?” This was the perfect opening where I could talk about my philanthropy work that I did in college with Relay for Life, Centre County PAWS (the local animal shelter) and of course my work with THON (Penn State’s dance marathon that raises money for kids with cancer). I had also mentioned to her that I read about the environmental awards they had received for their outstanding work.
4. Get a personal feel from the interviewer.
I always remind my friends that interviews are a two-way street. Not only are you looking to start fresh but the company is also looking to add to their company as well. I remind friends that they need you as much as you need them. I also tell my friends to get a personal feel for the company. When the hr manager asked me “What questions do you have for me,” I responded with the usual questions about the job making sure I understood what was being asked of me. I went on to ask her “What do you like most about working here?” She seemed a little taking back as if no one had ever asked her that before. I said to her, “You’re my link to this company and I like to get a feel of what other people in the company think of where they work.” That made her smile and she was able to give me a lot of insight about the company.
5. Always do a through follow-up.
I always make sure to ask for a business card or a method to follow up with. I know it sounds like an obvious point but I have friends who didn’t know that they should send a follow-up email or phone call to thank the interviewer for their time and to leave an impression. I always send an email with just some follow-up points on things we talked about and why I think I would be the right person for the job. I also always make sure to mention something in the interview that matters to me: i.e.- social responsibility, so that when the hr manager talks about me to the department head, she has something to say like “oh, he knew a lot about our environmental award and was excited to help bring that to the next level.”
What other advice would you offer those interviewing?