Interview tips & tricks
This content was repurposed from a presentation that Markelle gave earlier this year to the Women in Business group at UW Bothell.
In my role as Talent Manager at Simplicity Consulting, I meet with hundreds of clients and consultants. Those conversations have given me a front-row seat to what hiring managers are looking for.
Early-in-career job seekers, keep reading for tips and tricks on how to stand out, what hiring managers really want, and what works (and doesn’t!) in an interview.
Tip 1: Define your story & tell it consistently—everywhere
As our founder, Lisa Hufford, says: When you own your brand, you own your life.
What you say about yourself matters. Be intentional about your personal brand story to attract the work you want.
If you’re not sure what story you want to tell, that’s ok! Lisa’s Personal Brand Playbook & virtual personal brand workshop are incredible resources. Her five steps will help you define and build your brand.
Then, once you know the story you want to tell, tell that story consistently—everywhere. There’s nothing worse than seeing a candidate who positions themselves one way on LinkedIn, but tells a completely conflicting story in their resume.
When I say everywhere, that includes:
- LinkedIn profile
- Personal website or online portfolio (if applicable)
- Other social media accounts
- Language you use to introduce yourself & talk about the work you want
Tip 2: Dial in your resume
There’s no magic template or formula: Do what works for you.
If you’re a creative, it’s always good to showcase that. If you’re a PM, it’s okay to be more straightforward. There are lots of great templates out there, including on Canva and in Microsoft Word.
The most important thing: Make sure your resume is clear, concise, compelling, and typo-free. Whenever possible, focus on results and impact over activities. For example, “Built and executed email marketing campaign that drove 6% increase in sales” vs “Built and executed email marketing campaign.”
Remember that your resume is an opportunity to tell your personal brand story. Ensure that your language, experiences, and supporting details all ladder up to that story.
And keep it brief! While you undoubtedly have a laundry list of accomplishments, employers will only look at the first page so pare it down to the essentials and prioritize the relevant information.
Tip 3: Employers will look at your LinkedIn profile. What’s it telling them?
If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, build one. It’s the FIRST thing employers will look at. 77% of recruiters are on LinkedIn, and 35.5 million people have been hired by someone they connected with on the platform.
A few LinkedIn profile tips:
- This is another opportunity to tell your personal brand story. Again, make sure you’re telling a consistent story
- Keep your profile picture professional. LinkedIn reports that having a professional profile pic yields 14x more profile page views
- Grab your audience’s attention with a clear, catchy, and compelling headline
- Consider adding a header image—it’s yet another chance to showcase your brand
- Keep your summary and work experiences up to date, and don’t forget to include things like internships and club involvement if you have limited work history
- Recent grads, build out your education details as much as possible: include field of study, activities, description, and any links or files to showcase standout projects & work
Tip 4: You know more than you think
Limited work history? That’s okay. You know more than you think.
You still have lots of valuable experience that you can leverage. Don’t discount things like internships, club and group involvement, especially if you played a leadership role, and even school projects.
Our clients always ask for people who know specific tools, so don’t forget to reference the tools & programs you know. And if you don’t know many, turn to resources like LinkedIn learning to build your arsenal.
Don’t have experience? Find some.
Find a non-profit that needs some help. Build a website around one of your interests. Volunteer to run the social media handles for a club you belong to. (I’m looking at you, whoever runs the Instagram account for UWB’s WiB group—reference that! You’re doing great work that’s just as relevant as on-the-job social experience.
Look for every opportunity to gain experience.
Tip 5: Show up with a SMILE
When you do land that interview, show up with a SMILE—these are our core values, based on what clients want from our conversations with hundreds of hiring managers.
- Bring energy! Most tech companies want high-energy folks who are excited about the opportunity.
- Pretend it’s your first day on the job. Whether by phone or in person, approach the conversation as though you already have the job: You’re an expert determining how to best solve the client’s problem.
- Frame your experience with the hiring manager’s problems and needs. Plug yourself into the equation and answer questions from a can-do/have-done approach. Show them how you’ll help solve their specific challenges based on your skills and experience.
- Demonstrate active listening. Listen to each question completely before answering to be certain you are answering the question correctly. Never interrupt.
- Show your interest. Don’t leave without telling the hiring manager that you’re interested in the role.
Want more on job search, professional fulfillment, & personal brand?
Our founder and CEO, Lisa Hufford, shares in Forbes what skills are in demand, how to build confidence and credibility, and thinking outside the traditional employment model.