By Gracie Fairfax | Echo
Stellar communication is key in the grand scheme of life. I can still remember the time I talked my way into being hired as a CEO. Those were the days. Being the Chief Eating Officer isn't easy. Kids eat a lot and it's a big responsibility to make sure they get their fruits and veggies. I didn't climb the corporate ladder, but I did teach my children how to function as human beings, and I think that's a pretty big deal considering how scared they were of Chuck E. Cheese in their early days. Whether you're looking for a job as a camp counselor, seeking a professional internship or on the hunt for your first "big kid" job, the interview is essential to success. Here is some of my homegrown advice:
You have to be careful here. There is nothing worse than a face that looks like it's made of plastic. When you meet the interviewer treat them kindly, without seeming creepy or fake. If the interview is over the phone, still smile. You'd be surprised at the quality of phones these days. You can hear smiles.
2) Laugh at their jokes, but don't overdo it
Similar to smiling, laughing makes you seem friendly. Companies these days want to know that you are a fun person to be around, in addition to having a killer skill set. Most likely, they will be sharing the same space as you on a daily basis, and it is exhausting to have no one laugh at your jokes. Believe me, if I knitted a scarf every time I told a joke to my kids and they just stared at me, I'd be able to wrap every Chicago citizen with a strategically composed bundle of yarn.
3) Do your research
If you're applying to Disney, take a trip to Disney World and get a feel for the culture. If you're applying for a camp job, make sure you know where it is, some basic background information and the job requirements. Maybe sleep in a tent to get in the mood. Be able to answer the classic questions of "Why do you want to work for us?", "What do you know about our company?" and "What makes you a good fit for the job?" It would be pretty embarrassing to have no answer to those questions other than "I want a job and you're hiring."
4) Dress in a way that would make your mama proud
Ripped up lawnmower jeans from Abercrombie were fun to watch my kids spend their life savings on back in the day, but they're not the best choice for an interview. Be professional and dress for the job. It's always good to overdress, but wearing a suit to a camp counselor interview might not be the wisest decision. For phone interviews, it can help you get in the right mindset. On the other hand, by all means, take this opportunity to wear your favorite PJ's and be comfortable. For Skype interviews, you can get away with a blazer on top and sweatpants on the bottom (let's not pretend we haven't all done it). Regardless, dress to impress; impress to get hired.
5) Look them in the eyes
For in-person or Skype interviews, eye contact is important. When answering questions, it can be easy to look into the distance as you gather your thoughts, but make a conscious effort to keep your eyes locked on the interviewer. Don't be so intense that they are scared, but talk to them, not to the painting behind them. If you look away, you might seem untrustworthy-like a child who stuffed candy wrapper evidence in the couch cushions.
6) Prepare strengths and weaknesses
Everyone has weaknesses, even if you're Mr. Incredible or Elastigirl. Be sure to prepare these beforehand, though. From personal experience, it's pretty uncomfortable to be in an interview and, after listing strengths, be unable to come up with weaknesses. People tell you what you're good at more than they tell you what you need to improve. Be sure to phrase it as "Some things I could improve are . . . " in order to give a positive spin to your weaknesses. No one is perfect, and no interviewer expects you to be.
7) Ask impressive questions
This goes along with doing your research. If you've done your research, you'll be able to ask better questions. Refer to specific projects the company is working on or ask the interviewer what led them to their position. Taking an interest in the person interviewing you is simply a nice human thing to do, and asking good questions, regardless of how well you answered their questions, will show them you have analytical thinking skills. The worst thing to do is say "I don't have any questions," which is code for "I didn't prepare, I know everything and I don't have that great of an interest in your company." Elastigirl and Mr. Incredible would never do that, so why should you?
At the end of an interview you may realize you'd rather cut off your arm than take the position, and that's okay, because you're interviewing them too. You want to make sure you're a good fit for them, and they're a good fit for you. Regardless of outcome, interviewing is a great opportunity to stretch yourself, practice your ability to articulate your thoughts and talk about yourself. Let's be real, who doesn't love that?