When job interviewing in SoCal, it can take a of of effort and time.
According to the latest stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current unemployment rate is in SoCal is between 5.1% to 5.3% (Santa Barbara to San Diego). The nation is at 5%, so we’re close to matchin’ up. Prior and when I first moved to SoCal, I applied close to 500 jobs.
Yes, you read that correctly. 500 jobs, all between Santa Barbara and San Diego.
When I moved here in 2010, the area’s unemployment rate was about 12.7% to 13.9%! It is a very large, spread out area and with more and more people looking for work, you have to keep truckin’ along. There were so many days where I would come home from my part time job job at the traffic center and just go through the Internet or be on the phone (occasionally) all day applying.
Like I said in a previous post, I didn’t want to blow my money partying my life away. I really wanted to buckle down and focus on finding a full time job with benefits. More time was spent staring at a computer than having fun that first year I was here.
My friends joke that I am the “queen” of job interviewing and maybe I am! I have been in interviews that were on spot and fun or just plain terrible and uncomfortable. But that is why with more lessons learned, you take away more valuable job interviewing experience. Sometimes I even went on interviews just to brush up on my skill sets.
I really had to think hard and I can honestly tell you after so many years of interviewing that I have never been nervous during an interview. There were a few times I felt it when I was driving to the location, but as soon as I sat down, the butterflies went away. I love interviewing, for me it’s fun and I love getting to know the potential employer. As soon as we start talking, I like to develop a repertoire with the person.
Here are some of my helpful interviewing tips that I learned along the way:
Research the company prior to the interview and see what they are all about: the history, the current CEO, the mission, social media pages, news, etc…Sometimes employers will ask what you know about the company and this is your chance to shine with knowledge!
Be prepared with ideas.
I always go into an interview with ideas on how to make the company better. I remember a time when I interviewed for a PR firm in LA and I made a brief PowerPoint presentation highlighting new ways to expand the company. You always want to be one step of the competition. In my mind I always think, what can I do that others might not think to do? How can my skill set help?
The Midwest is a bit more traditional and back in Minneapolis I always covered up with pants or a skirt that went below the knee with a blouse or cardigan over my dress. Here I can actually get away with my shoulders or arms showing and maybe a dress hitting slightly above the knee. I also work in media and entertainment so I can afford to be a bit more trendy out here. I usually stick to black, white or a bold color. Dress to impress!
Show up 15 minutes early.
It shows that you are eager, reliable and on time. In the past I got in right away when showing up early or sometimes I had to wait in the waiting room. I never go on my cell phone while I’m waiting, I might chat a bit with the receptionist if there is one present to chat about the company or just ask how their day is going. If no one is around I rehearse what I am going to say in my head.
Smile with a firm hand shake.
It’s always the first impression that will set the tone for the interview. You should be honored and happy that the potential employer wanted you in for an interview! You also want to do this step as you exit the interview.
Be honest, be calm, be confident, be yourself.
An employer can pick on if you are being fake or nervous. I have even been in interviews where I was calm and the interviewer was nervous or sometimes the interviewer didn’t know how to ask the right questions! Sit upright, smile, make eye contact and use hand gestures. It’s a getting to know you conversation on both ends. Even use a bit of humor, you don’t wan to appear too uptight!
Sometimes the employer will ask what I like to call “curve balls.” For me, the most common one I get is “do you know this skill?” If you don’t have that one skill they are looking for, you can always say, “I actually don’t know this skill, but I am willing to learn it to advance with the company.” You always want to say how you can help the company, not yourself.
Some of my favorite questions to ask are:
- “Why did the person in the last position leave?”
I want to know this so that I know this position isn’t constantly in turnover.
- “What is your company culture like?”
I always want to know the types of people I will be dealing with. In my history, I think I’ve dealt with practically every type of personality. I also want to know the turnover rate for the company as a whole. Besides the fact that people move on to other jobs because of salary, skill level, whatever the reason may be, if people are happy with the company, that’s a huge turn on for me.
- “Does the company offer advanced training?”
If so, take advantage!
- “What are the job hours? Is overtime expected?”
I really don’t mind if there is overtime, but it’s important for me to have a work life balance.
- “How many candidates are you interviewing for the position?”
I want to know what my competition is like. I’ve had some potential employers say it was narrowed down to 5 potentials out of 60 applicants and I think the biggest pool I was even chosen out of was 10 potentials out of 200 applicants! That’s a huge number! Like I said, be honored that you are speaking with them!
- “What are the salary and benefits?”
When I was in my 20s I wouldn’t ask this question since I was just hungry to take anything at that time. Now that I am older I usually find that the potential employer and I want to get this out of the way. You would be amazed at how many companies don’t offer 401k these days – after my position at the TV station in Santa Barbara, I worked for 3 companies that didn’t offer it! I am fortunate and thankful now that I have found a company that does offer 401k with matching. This question also leaves room for possible salary negotiations.
Send a thank you email.
Thanking the potential employer with an email is brownie points. It lets them know that you appreciated having them take their time out of their busy schedule to meet with you and reiterates your interest in the job or not!
Sometimes if you say no, an employer may reach back out to you with a different offer or give you reasons to accept an offer with their company if you are in doubt or juggling other offers. That’s actually what happened with my current company and I am so glad I said yes. I am very happy with my decision and the people I work with.
Good luck! You can also contact me if you want any further advice! 🙂
BTW…I also found this infographic about even more great job interviewing tips!
Photo Credit: Flipboard, The Muse, Smart Talent, Enigalunho, Acaldvrlists, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Pomona College, College Atlas