While executing a 313-point turn to get back into our parking space – yay, garage construction! – I think about everything I did wrong during the interview:
- Talked too much
- Said “and the like” 500 times
- Didn’t stand up to shake one interviewer’s hand
But then I remember what I did right:
- Had three copies of my resume and cover letter on hand (I anticipated there’d be more than one interviewer, especially since it was a second-round)
- Maintained eye contact, switching between interviewers appropriately
- Referred back to the interviewer’s question at the end of my answer
- Interjected humorous anecdotes where appropriate
- Wore comfortable, professional clothes tailored to the organization
- Kept the “umms” and “looks into space” to a minimum
- Wove the org’s key mission terms and phrases into my answers
- Answered completely and honestly
Back in the apartment, my mind whirls with all the interview’s conversational tidbits, and I reach for the half-eaten pint of Smokey Rocky Road ice cream that Andy and I got for our anniversary. And after scraping the bottom, spooning up the melty goodness, I decide I did pretty well on this interview. Whether that’ll actually translate into me getting the job remains to be seen, but for now, my part is complete.
I quickly rap out a thank-you email to my interviewers, send it, then collapse into a heap while Toby pulls apart a slew of Disney toys.
But before I get too relaxed, I push myself to do something I’ve come to do whilst job hunting – apply for another job immediately after an interview, regardless of whether it’s a first- or second- round interview. This way, should I get the “thanks but no thanks” email in the next few days, I won’t be utterly crushed, wondering what in the world I’ll do.
My strategy is pretty simple: apply for one job every single day. Two if I’m feeling up to it. More if I’m super caffeinated and ready to fly. Persistence and perseverance are the two drivers for any job hunter. If you don’t apply, don’t expect a solution; if you devolve into sobs and squeals and halt all hunting whenever you get an automated rejection, nothing will change. This is all pretty straight-forward logic, but it’s taken me a while to fully get it.
Right after we both decided to quit our jobs, but before we moved to California, I envied Andy’s ability to apply for 10-20 jobs a day while I barely applied to 1. The trick was to have an absurdly strong cover letter and resume that, taken together, could easily be a ticket to any job within your subject area – with just slight alterations per role. After a complete, drastic overhaul of my resume and cover letter, I was ready – which really came in handy while we moved.
Since then, it’s been about me applying in a rapid-fire, consistent fashion so that my options don’t run dry. Because rejections suck (like the one I just got from the nonprofit located a block from our apartment!), and I know they’ll easily derail me if I don’t have other potential prospects floating around out there.
And when job apps translate into a first-round interview, I begin reacquainting myself with my best practices:
- Print out my resume and tailored cover letter (whatever app materials I sent in), as well as the job announcement – and have them on hand
- Clear my throat and do a few “1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3” exercises to loosen up the ol’ vocal chords to prevent my voice from cracking or squeaking during introductions
- Do conscious breathing for the five minutes before the call
- Have a bottle or glass of water nearby in case my throat gets scratchy from talking
- (Per Andy) Use ear buds in lieu of holding the phone – this way I feel less encumbered and freer, which also allows me to talk with my hands (this always helps me think)
- If I can’t do the interview at home – like this last time when our building’s fire alarm check was scheduled at the exact time of my phone interview – I drive to a park or somewhere quiet and shaded
- ALWAYS have at least three questions for them – my most favorite being: “How would you define success for this role?” (credit: Andy), “What personality traits do you most value in your staff?” (credit: ME!), “What are the next steps in the process?” (credit: Andy)
And should a killer phone interview spur a second-round interview, I remind myself to do all the things I mentioned above – especially dressing comfortably (and appropriately) for the job.
Of course, there’re going to be foibles here and there with any interview. Like today, I completely forgot my phone, but thankfully I’d jotted down the address with directions (should technology fail me) – and I pulled a few other rookie moves (also see above).
Regardless of whether or not I get this job, I know that I did my best, had some laughs, and met some interesting people. And, I’ll kept my eyes on the horizon and my prospect plate full (apply, apply, apply!). Sooner or later, I’ll take the plunge back into the employment pool.
Until then, I’ll keep Toby company. (And will try to avoid the eye-less gaze of his victims.)