Best career advice from Susan Landon and the top interview tips for women you will ever read! How to relay your accomplishments, timing, your personality for a smashing success.
By Susan Landon
You’re getting closer to your new job. You’ve been following some good career advice and networking everywhere you go. You’ve written a terrific resume. And now you’ve got an interview scheduled with your dream employer next week. You want to make sure that you’re ready and avoid difficulties that you’ve heard women are prone to in interviews, so you’re looking for specific interview tips for women. So here they are…
Interview Tips for Women: Best Career Advice
Be yourself! As women, we often try to change who we are to fit into a male environment. And we end up hiding the things that make us unique and likeable, and we come across as flat. I once provided career advice to a delightful woman named Jessica who had a full, infectious laugh. She had a great resume and was invited for many interviews, but Jessica never got the job offer. As I tried to help her figure out what was happening, I learned that friends claiming to have good career advice had told her to make sure that no one heard that laugh during an interview, because it didn’t sound professional. So Jessica put all her energy into making sure she didn’t laugh. And her interviewers saw her as nervous and dull. Once I told her to be herself and let her true personality shine, she had no trouble landing a great job. If you put on a fake personality during the interview, they might hire you. But eventually they’ll find out who you really are. And if that isn’t who they wanted to hire, it could be disastrous for you.
Interview Tips for Women: Your Accomplishments
Brag! This is not the time to be humble. Make sure that you can discuss every job on your resume from the perspective of what you accomplished and what you contributed. If you’re looking for a more senior position, you should be speaking in terms of how you led your team to achieve X or Y. But if you’re interviewing for a less senior position, it’s crucial to speak in the first person so the interviewer understands the accomplishments are yours. This is a key piece of career advice that often gets overlooked. Think about what you can contribute to your new employer and be as specific as possible. The interviewer doesn’t want to hear only that you’re a hard worker. She/he wants to here what abilities and experience you bring to the table.
Interview Tips for Women: Timing is Key
Watch your timing! Don’t ask about vacation, work/life balance, compensation or other benefits at your first interview. Of course these are important! But you don’t want the interviewer to think that these are more important to you than the job content and opportunity to contribute to the company’s objectives. Just as you wouldn’t bring up how many kids you want to have on a first date, don’t discuss your special needs on a first interview. Once you and the interviewer have fallen in love, you’re in a better position to ask for things you want. (So keep in mind that regardless of whose career advice you’re following, timing is everything and when applying any interview tips you must be mindful of the situation.)
Interview Tips for Women: Making a Personal Connection
Make a personal connection! This is something that women are particularly good at, but sometimes we think it’s not professional, so we hold back. You obviously seem to be qualified for the job, because you were called in for an interview. Hopefully you’ve been doing a good job of talking about your accomplishments. But interviewers want to hire people they like. People they would want to work side-by-side with and go to lunch with. If you notice the interviewer has a photo from a ski trip and you like to ski, make that connection. If you see photos of kids, it’s OK to comment that they’re cute.
Although this is sound career advice for everyone, women can benefit from focusing their attention on the aspects I highlighted. I promise you that if you follow these interview tips for women, you’ll have a great interview and you’ll be settled into your new job before you know it!
Susan Landon, Managing Partner New York, Alexander Hughes Executive Search Consultants