Last night I was binge-watching Netflix (let’s not judge here) and stumbled upon Reece Witherspoon’s new show “Shine On,” in which she interviews ambitious and successful women. In the second episode, she talks to Ava DuVernay, an award-winning filmmaker of some seriously excellent films such as “Selma” and “A Wrinkle in Time.” Toward the end of the episode, they began to discuss auditions and interviews, and I realized that I have some knowledge in this field that might be valuable for job seekers.
I have personally interviewed hundreds of people and managed to find quality candidates even though the job offered abysmal hours, pay, and often stressful or dangerous working conditions. So, I thought I’d share 4 of my most valuable nuggets of wisdom for interviewing.
1. Wear comfortable and professional clothes.
Let’s start with the first impression—the way you look. Ideally, you want to dress similarly to that of the individuals where you are interviewing, but perhaps just one step above—you want to look like you made an effort, but not that you have a court date after your interview. Stilettos, in an interview for a school job, are a nonstarter. Ladies should be particularly mindful of footwear because if you’re interviewing in a school, you want to choose shoes that don’t make you sound like a horse walking down one of those long tile hallways.
I feel comfortable wearing all black (or at least dark colors), but I think it varies from person to person. Whenever I interview or present to an audience, I always wear black because it makes me feel comfortable and confident. You aren’t going to see it if I sweat…gross I know, but let’s not pretend like it isn’t a concern.
See…my friends know me:
2. Research. Research. Research.
Your goal is to know as much about the school as possible. You should review the school’s state data online, combing through comments on GreatSchools, and researching their website. You should know walking into an interview about the shortcomings of the school and its goals. Where are they struggling, and what can you offer them to solve that problem? Are they struggling with attendance, discipline, or achievement? Research strategies to address their particular issue(s) and share some possible solutions.
3. Yes, you do have a question.
Let’s not pretend like you don’t have questions: you want to know if they are going to pick you! But that is not the question you are going to ask. Instead, use the back door to find out if you even want to work there. Ask questions about the culture of the school, their goals for the program, and their ideal candidate.
4. Take the damn ball.
In the interview with Reece and DuVernay, they both discuss how the person interviewing wants you to get the job—they want you to be the right person to help solve their problems. So, your answer is never “I don’t know,” but instead, it’s “I’ll figure it out.” The interviewer just wants to know that when they give you the ball, you will run with it and not just stand there. Trust in the fact that you will figure it out.
Friends, most of my jobs have been trial by fire, and I have always managed to figure it out. The person interviewing you wants to know that you’re a problem solver who will find a way to get it done. You cannot possibly know the answer to every question they’ll ask you in an interview, but you can leave the interviewer with the impression that you will find a way to solve whatever problems might arise.
Seal the deal.
Before you leave the interview, you are going to ask the question that will genuinely make them consider you for the job. This is THE question for interviewing. Are you ready? It’s good and has helped me land jobs that I thought were way out of my league. Okay, here it is, “Do you have any hesitation about my ability to perform this role?” By asking this question, you are allowing them to voice any concerns and provide a salve for any fears they might have about your ability to perform the job in question.
Bonus Tip: Be chill.
I know this is easier said than done, but seriously, you’re not going to make a good impression if you’re a bundle of nerves. Trust in the fact that everything will work out. If you get the job, you were meant to have it, and if not, then it wasn’t a good fit. I am that crazy lady who believes that the universe is conspiring to give me exactly what I want—even if it doesn’t always show up when or how I thought it would. Have a little faith, and remember to breathe.