5 Interview Tips to Help You Land That Dream Job

A father and daughter duo share their interview experiences and wisdom that resulted in landing multiple job offers.

The journey begins with the need to advance our marketing careers. The first search began in 2021 by my daughter Juliet, who was eager to grow her marketing career after working for a couple of years in her first job out of college. Then in 2022, it was my turn to also advance my marketing career. What was amazing is how we both coached/mentored each other in our searches to overcome the frustrations and disappointments along with exciting conversations to choose between multiple job offers.

The bonus member of the team is my wife, who helped as a sounding board/outside perspective to provide advice and listen to us vent. We were all tired of complaining that we were not growing in our current jobs. However, we were determined to find a new job, and we did it together. My daughter landed back in August of 2021 and I started a new job in June of 2022.

After a combined 50+ interviews, here are our top 5 lessons learned after trial and error.

1. Practice, Practice, Practice

  • Your first interviews will be rusty—it’s like presenting a PowerPoint deck for the first time, which is never that good. If you ever watched The Good Place, your first interviews would be described as Forking Bad.
  • After multiple interviews you’ll begin to feel confident, but you’re still too much in your head and not yet 100% comfortable. The best example of this was when my wife, who overheard one of my remote interviews, said,  “You sounded edgy and not yourself.” BTW, I luckily still advanced to the next round of interviews, and the story ended with a fabulous offer with a FinTech startup.
  • Then, after many interviews, you’re comfortable and confident. Finally, your personality, which people know and love, is revealed to everyone you interview with. How you answer questions comes from the heart, and people sense that you’re relaxed and having fun. Result: Your odds improve on your way to a job offer.

2. Personal Branding while Zoom Interviewing

  • The first Zoom interviews were okay but looked like a low budget film—the webcam was bad, the background was blah, the microphone was bloody awful, and the lighting was okay, but no one would describe it as studio quality.
  • It was time to up the game. We got a new Logitech BRIO webcam, external USB Mic, Philips Hue play bar lights set to white, and an angled room real background rather than a boring flat wall or a fake virtual background.
  • The result was news anchor quality. The goal is to make the best impression before you even say a word. First impressions are made within seconds.

Examples of how to handle lighting in interviews vs. how NOT to handle lighting

3. Culture Fit

  • How do you know a company has a good culture? If the interviewer goes on for several minutes describing the culture, you know there is something special about their culture.
  • Inversely, if they say, “I like the people I work with, and we have corporate values,” it’s probably an okay culture where you’re probably needed to make it better.
  • Most importantly, is this a culture fit for you?

I wanted to work for a smaller company (<500 EE’s) as I’ve worked for billion-dollar companies but love the roll-up-your-sleeves/make-it-happen small company culture. So, I was looking for a management team that had similar values to mine, where long hours wouldn’t feel like work. One tell-tale sign it was a good culture fit was when I shared an interview with my family, and they could tell I was excited about the people I met.

My daughter was looking for a larger company where she could grow her marketing career and climb the ladder. The culture where she landed can be described as European. They value their employees and unexpectedly gave her a raise within a few weeks of joining as they adjusted employees (in the same role) to market value. Then within a year the good news was that she was very happy and excelling in her role and the company promoted her to even greater responsibilities.

4. Ask for Help and Never Lose Hope

  • The normal advice is to leverage your professional network, which is just one strategy. We also leveraged our friends and family network and helped others in their job search to keep motivated.
  • Sure, we had bad days and good days. The best motivational advice I read on LinkedIn was a quote from a woman in Dubai who was recently laid off. She shared this: “If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan (your job search tactics), but never the goal.”
  • And sometimes it’s best to just sleep on it—your subconscious is your best friend. Once, when I woke up, I knew the answer to my final interview question:  Which offer should I take? I felt in my heart the best choice was to work for an old boss instead of a startup and shared my thoughts with my wife and daughter, who agreed. A day later, it was mission accomplished, and the offer letter was signed.

5. Competitive Job Market

  • Yes, there are tons of jobs, and in 2023 it’s still a decent job market with many remote positions. But do keep in mind that what’s not often talked about is that you are now competing with people from all over the U.S. (or perhaps internationally) for remote positions.
  • So, what do you do? That’s why it’s important to up your interview game by researching, networking, and using the latest office tech (quality webcam, lighting, mic, background).
  • One bit of advice from a buddy in the job search is to also ask if you’re competing against internal candidates. In one round of interviews, I made it to the final round and was ghosted. A few weeks later on LinkedIn, I noticed an internal candidate—one who interviewed me—got the job.

Remember interviewing is sales, and the product is YOU. You’re building a pipeline of opportunities. The goal is just like a star baseball player, with a .300 batting average (strikes out most of the time), who just keeps swinging (interviewing) to finally hit a home run (get a job offer).

Looking for a mentor?

Check out Vault-Firsthand, the premier career readiness platform, which connects students with professionals willing to be a mentor along with alumni and communities with discussion forums and affinity groups. More than 500+ colleges and universities use Vault-Firsthand for pre-application readiness resources to prepare students to land their dream jobs with top-ranked Vault employers. Visit https://partners.vault.com/campus-solutions/ to learn more.

And here’s a little something personal about the father and daughter who mentored each other during the job search.

  • One day, my daughter said,  “Hey, Dad, let’s go skydiving!.”
  • And the crazy part is our mentor (wife and Mom) said, “Okay!” 🙂

Robert and Juliet Chernesky

Originally published on Infobase.