Tuesday, 24 May 2011

How to Ace a Job Interview

P.S. Don't follow these tips.

So I am now an employed person. Somehow. And the job could give me a decent income... or it could not... That would depend on my ability to sell Woolworth's credit cards. And no, British people, that is not the same as the Woolworths that went bankrupt when the banks crashed or whatever happened, Australia has a different Woolworths that's a giant supermarket that owns like everything, a bit like Tesco's. Soo here are my foolproof(!) tips that I learned from getting my job...

1. Turn up to the interview so early they think you're someone else and treat you like a new employee. 
So yesterday I got up early, got ready, walked to the station and got an earlier train than I was expecting to. Now, I had then realised I hadn't written down the exact address, but I had Google Maps pointing out the spot for me and I remembered the number. Then I got there and it turned out to be a huge great building with zillions of floors and a few suites on each level. I had a little panic, tried to access the email I had which I knew had the suite number on it, then realised it was on the account I didn't remember the password for. So, running out of ideas but still keeping a cool head since I ended up being about 45 minutes early, I looked to the building for inspiration - and saw the companies logo inside the building. I breathed a sigh of relief and took a break for a few minutes, before heading in half an hour early.
I was the first one there for the 10 O'clock interview (group interview, though I didn't realise at the time) and the woman at the reception desk looked at me and said, "Come in, Ben will sort you out."
"Great," I said, thinking he'd give me a form or take me through to a room or something.
Ben came up and called "Hey, are the shirts still in here?" then: "Oh, yeah they are," sounding surprised at the latter utterance.
'Shirts?' I thought. 'Does that mean I have it already? Is this part of the interview?' But, because I'm a numpty, I didn't say anything.
"What size are you?" he went on.
"Erm... 14-16ish?" So he handed me a size 16 and gave me directions to a bathroom I could change in, myself feeling rather confused but not wanting to make a fuss.
So I changed, went back in and sat down and one of the other team members asks for my name, leaves, and comes back looking rather confused herself.
"Amy, who trained you?" she said.
Ah. So everyone's gotten a bit confused. Now we could clear it up. "Erm - no-one. I just got an e-mail asking me to come in for an interview."
"Ah!", she said with a mostly cheerful air, at least, "You shouldn't be wearing a shirt then! Here, come with me."
So they just had a new member starting that day and the receptionist had thought I was her. But, hey, the woman to grabbed me afterwards turned out to be my interviewer, so at least she remembered me!

2. Prepare a few good answers, and then throw them completely out of the window and make it all up on the spot when anything changes and throws you. 
I had prepared a few answers the night before the interview, especially to my least favourite question, "Tell me something about yourself." I had this fantastic answer about how children's work really prepared me for something in sales, gave me confidence, made outgoing and how you had to step out and not be self-conscious, etc. Then I got in there, and it turned out to be a group interview, I was first, and it sounded like that was the only question I'd get to answer. And of course, it all came out in a mangled heap. Thankfully, my interview turned out to be English, so the first thing I said, "So, I'm originally from England..." automatically earned me points.
However, her last question (of the minute in which I actually got to talk) was about hobbies and interests, which I completely hadn't even prepared at all - which in turn led me to just say the first thing that popped into my head. "Well... I used to play tabletop roleplaying games back home... which sounds really nerdy and kind of is. But it's really social and you have to be imaginative and step into someone's elses shoes. It's not sad, really."

3. When they give you a call later in the day, don't ask them to repeat what you don't understand. 
So, shockingly, a few hours after the interview I get a call from my interviewer saying something in a heavy Northern English accent about going back tomorrow (something) about the interview today. I thought she was saying 'to go over your interview' yesterday, though she got me to bring ID and my bank details which I knew was a good sign. But it was a good sign anyway so I was like 'awesome!'

4. Don't bother checking that your purse is in your bag when you leave for the station the next day. 
This morning, I had breakfast with a friend, who had offered to pay for me since I was too broke to pay for a nice breakfast myself, went home and chilled and prayed for a bit deliberately so that I was in a good place to go to an interview, then left again for the half an hour walk to the nearest station. A couple of minutes after I left I checked my pockets and realised my phone wasn't where it was meant to be, so rushed back home to grab my phone, felling very glad I'd left in time to get the earlier train of the two I could get, got in then realised it had been in my bag all along and rushed out of the door again.
Once I got to Redfern, where our nearest station is, I got stuck on a pedestrian crossing on a main road close to the station and decided to grab my purse out of my bag while I was waiting.
It was not there.
I suddenly realised that I'd worn my coat to the interview the day before, put my purse in my pocket and left it there. I sent up a quick prayer: God, I need a train ticket! God, provide me a train ticket! God, aaargh!
Alas, it was not to be, and I had to turn and spend almost another hour going home, grabbing my purse, failing to call them because of some peculiarity or another in their telephone system, getting back to the station and on a train, eventually arriving 45 minutes late and walking into not another group interview, but a training session, finding myself as confused as I had been before. Halfway through, I asked the others (when the interviewer/trainer - same person - was out of the room) "So if we're here, does that mean we have the job?"
The nodded, smiling.

I must have made some AWESOME first impressions. Yet, somehow I find myself employed. Be encouraged, ya'll!
(regarding the "ya'll"... I don't even know that many Texans...)

A few more random tips:

1. Wear silly underwear and/or socks. The idea isn't that they SEE them (in fact, if they can you ought to seriously reconsider your outfit), just that you're amused and you're not through-and-through formal.
2. Don't imagine your interviewers naked. That'd just be plain awkward.
3. Be YOU. After all, they'd get a nasty surprise if they employed someone they thought was you and it turned out not to be. I was me in my interview, I'm pretty sure, and apparently she thought I'd be a good salesperson. For some reason.


  1. "Well... I used to play tabletop roleplaying games back home... which sounds really nerdy and kind of is. But it's really social and you have to be imaginative and step into someone's elses shoes. It's not sad, really."

    LOL! That is priceless Amy, I can just imagine you saying it but then I can imagine me saying something like it too!

  2. I love your english quirks and nuances in speech. :) Truly AWESOME how God speaks through circumstances. Of COURSE you blew them out of the water, you're charming and smart as heck. Why wouldn't they hire you? <3