Jenn is a pathologically positive coach who has been helping people with their careers for over 20 years. She runs a site called Careers by Jenn where she hosts an amazing podcast that’s packed with incredibly helpful career advice.
When she and I first connected, she mentioned that coaching job seekers on interview was her passion and I knew I had to get her to share that advice with the CC community.
In our interview, Jenn shares some amazing job interview tips:
- How to effectively research the company that’s interviewing you
- A resume tip that can totally change the outcome of your interview (which most people overlook)
- Tips to reduce nerves and feel confident on the big day
- Leveraging some psychology to quickly build a relationship with your interviewer
- The secret to asking effective questions that will allow you to control the conversation and make a lasting impression
- So much more!
You can check out our interview below and you can also get 50% off Jenn’s course Acing your Interviews by clicking this link.
Full Interview Transcript
Austin: Hey everyone, welcome back to another Cultivated Culture expert interview. Today, I have Jenn Swanson with me. Jenn is the pathologically positive career coach and she has been helping people land jobs in one shape or form for about 25 years now, which is pretty crazy. Jenn, thank you so much for joining me, I really appreciate it.
Jenn Swanson: Thanks for having me, Austin. This is great.
Austin: No problem. Today, I’m really excited because we’re going to focus on a topic that I’m really interested in that I know you’re really passionate about too which is interviews. Before we get to that, I’d love to have you talk a little bit about what it is you do at careers by Jenn, you have an amazing podcast which I’ve listened to and loved and learned from. Tell us a little bit more about your business and then, we can dive into your background from there.
Jenn: Sure. In 2011, I was teaching college and doing a bunch of other stuff. They were asking me to teach a course called communication or human relations skills to mostly 20-25 year olds going into health care. They only gave me 30 hours to teach communication skills which is absolutely not enough. I was frustrated and I decided to start a blog but I thought blogs were just for moms talking about their kids which didn’t excite me very much. Then, I found Pat Flynn, I don’t know if you know Pat Flynn.
Austin: I do.
Jenn: I found some pretty amazing online people and discovered that there was a lot more to online stuff than just moms talking about their kids. I started a blog and then, very shortly after that, I met one of Pat’s good friends, Cliff Ravenscroft, who’s the podcast answer man and got into Cliff’s mastermind group and launched a podcast in December of 2011 that started out being called communication diva which was all tongue and cheek. It was mostly communication skills but as I grew in the podcasting, learning more and more about that, I found I was mostly talking about helping people to be their best selves and put their best selves forward, especially at work because that’s what I was working on.
In November of 2017, I actually rebranded after having a call with a coat, I rebranded to careers by Jenn. That iteration of it is new but it’s the same stuff I’ve been doing and the podcast just translate it over. It’s been going strong since 2011 and it’s published every weekend. Now, it’s exclusively focused on being well in your work life and then, if you’re transitioning in your work life or if you’re looking for work, those are the things that I can help with.
Austin: Awesome, I love it. Just to reiterate again, careers by Jenn is now the name of the podcast for anybody out there who wants to check it out. It is fantastic and I think if people do get to listen, they’re definitely going to learn a lot. Let’s talk about interviews, we can dive right into the meat here. I know that you’re passionate about it and I’m really excited. I know some of the things that you’d like to recommend but let’s say that- and you can start where you want to start- but I think for me, a lot of people start thinking about that once they get a feel for actually applying and they’re starting to get interviews consistently.
I know on my side, I teach people or try to teach people as best I can how to systematize that process of landing the interview. Once you have a pipeline going, then I think people start to really hone in on, “Okay, how can I get better at this interview and things so that I can land the job?” I guess, in that moment where you land your first interview, walk us through what you would recommend. How do I start approaching this process that seems overwhelming and gargantuan? I could have another interview, I could get a phone call tomorrow and another interview is lined up for the following day, now I have two and I’m not prepared. Where do you start? Where does this all begin?
Jenn: It’s a good question. Presumably, hopefully, you’ve done some industry research before you get to this point. By industry research, I mean you’ve really looked at this company that you’re going to walk into and have an interview or do it virtually depending on how they interview. You’ve done your research, your homework on that company. Sometimes knowing what the latest newsletter said, if you can find it online, or knowing the culture of the company will really assist you in all the rest of the interview process. You need to know if this is a formal atmosphere to know even how to dress.
You need to know and to what language to use. You need to know if it is an informal place and if it’s a really informal place, you want to dress nicely but maybe, you don’t want to show up in a suit. There’s different things that you can glean just from doing the research before you ever step into the place. That’s the first place I would start. Depending on how many interviews you have that week, you might not have a lot of time to do that but I would definitely suggest at least do some research to get familiar with the culture of the place that you’re going to walk into.
Austin: I totally agree but can you walk us through how you would recommend doing that research? Do you have specific tools or resources or maybe places that you send people were they can easily find that info? I know, when you’re learning about a company there’s a lot to learn. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. If they’re public, they have their earnings statements and they probably had a Webcast about that but then, there’s 16 people on Google Finance writing about all these different perspectives. Then, you have the interview with the CEO which may conflict with some of the other stuff. There’s just so much information out there. How do you recommend that people go about researching the company efficiently and correctly?
Jenn: I actually would say it depends on the company. If it is a brick and mortar business that you can access by walking into, if it’s a place that you can walk into unobserved, if it’s a retail store or a store of some kind that you can go in or a service that you can access? Having the actual experience of being a client is helpful. You will learn things that you won’t learn from looking on the website necessarily. If that’s not possible, if it’s a bigger company then that, if you can’t buy something from it, or order something from it or have a service delivered to you, then, it would be a start with the website.
Depending on how much time you have, you may not be able to get into the deeper kinds of research that might be beneficial. Start with just looking up their website and if there is such a thing as a newsletter that you’re allowed to access- because not every place will allow you to access their newsletter- then, I would do that next. The other thing you can do is Google the company. Just put the name into Google and see what comes up. Not necessarily the website but what else comes up. There might be a news article about that organization that might be of interest for you to read.
What’s happening? Are they in the news and why are they in the news? What’s happened recently? Another place to look would be LinkedIn. I would take a look at people who work at these places. Sometimes, you can find out that information in LinkedIn. Who are some of the people that work at this place and what are they like? What can you tell just by looking at LinkedIn? Those are some of the places that I would start.
Austin: Awesome. Yes, I love that and I love that you mentioned if you can walk in but if you can buy the product, a lot of these companies that we want to work for, they sell something, right? If you’re able to get your hands on that- I personally work at Microsoft still full time and we have office or we have an Xbox or things like that- that’s a great way to get started. The other thing that I found it can be really helpful is by speaking to customers as well. If you’re not comfortable spending a couple hundred bucks on an Xbox or however many dollars an office or whatever, you can go find people who have done that and survey them and then collect your results.
That will give you an understanding of how they’re perceived by their customers. That also gives you a lot of ammo when you walk into the interview room because you would be surprised at how many people actually work there aren’t as in touch with the folks who are actually purchasing their product. That’s awesome advice, I think that’s great. We have researched the company, what’s next? What am I doing now to make sure that I’m all set to turn this interview into an offer?
Jenn: You need to be prepared with your documentation. You need to have at least one or two copies of a resume. Now a lot of companies now are doing online application processes. That’s fine but you also need to have a hard copy resume. If you have, some people ask for a resume that’s compatible with the automated tracking systems that are out there now, the computers that scan your resumes and pick out the keywords and accept or reject for further investigation. Those have to be basic straightforward not fancy looking resumes.
If you’re going into an actual interview, you can bring your pretty resume if you have one. One that looks a little flashier depending on what kind of industry. Again, you want to match what your resume looks like if you’re doing that to the kind of company that you’re walking into. You can have at least a couple of copies of that with you, you need to have your references, a list of references handy. You can have that on a separate couple of sheets that you can hand out if they ask for your references and anything that you want, if you have a portfolio depending on the company you’re interviewing for.
You might have a portfolio with things things in it, maybe you wrote a book. Those are the kinds of things you might need to have and then, something to write notes on. It’s a two-way thing, an interview. A lot of people don’t remember that or don’t think about that. That it’s not just you being put on the spot which it maybe feels like, but you are also finding out from the people who are doing the interview what this place is going to be like to work at. You’re you’re also interviewing them so, it’s good to have some paper to write on, to take notes on and also to have a few- and I can talk about this more at the end maybe- but a couple of really good questions.
You might end up dreaming up a question as the interview goes along, but you may also want to have some pre-selected questions in your mind or written down. It’s fine to have your own notes to have with you in your folder. I suggest people bring in a little folder so everything looks neat and organized. It’s great to say that you’re a very organized person on your resume, but to actually show that then, is important. Your cellphone needs to be off and put away somewhere so it doesn’t make any noise.
You need to be neat and tidy in whatever way you dress and you need to be on time and you need to have all of your documentation in a nice neat folder. That way you will be demonstrating preparedness, organization, initiative, all of those things that people are looking for and don’t necessarily explicitly ask about.
Austin: Yes. Actions speak louder than words for sure, but I wish we had this conversation many, many years ago when I was starting to apply for jobs. I remember the first time that I walked into an interview, I didn’t bring any copies of my resume and the person came in and they’re like, “Can I have your resume.” I was like, “No.” That did not end well. After that, I learned my lesson and I always brought several copies in a folder with me. What’s always amazed me is how actually the majority of people who show up to an interview ask for it because they haven’t reviewed my resume ahead of time.
I think you find that the more senior you get and the busier people are, the more common that is. I love that tip. I think that’s awesome. We’ve researched the company. We have an idea of how to dress, we have an idea of the type of language we’re going to use, more formal, more casual. How do we now approach the questions and what’s actually going to happen because in my mind and what I preach, is that most of interview success happens before you walk in the room with your preparation, your research and all that.
I think a lot of that starts with the question. There can be a lot of questions. I mean, if you go to class store and you look through company interviews, you can get everything from like, “Tell me about yourself” to “How many golf balls fit in an airplane” to “How many gas stations are in Manhattan?” It can be very overwhelming so how do you recommend people approach some of these questions prioritizing them? When they rehearse answers or write answers what does a great answer look like? I guess we can start– That was a lot. Maybe we’ll start with the prioritization.
Jenn: They are in charge of what they’re going to ask you so, you can’t actually predict what is going to come at you. I would say be honest in your answer. Inventing something or making something sound fancier or better than it actually is, is going to come back to bite you. You want to be honest in your answer. You also want to be fairly brief. It depends on the kinds of questions. If they’re asking you history questions, factual questions or situational questions, lots of people like to ask, you know, behavioral questions.
Tell me about a time when you dealt with conflict or tell me about a time when you had to solve a problem. This kind of thing. What they don’t want is a great big long story about all the things that were going on with all the names of the people et cetera, et cetera. They don’t care. What they want to know is how you handled it, what you actually did, the action steps that you took and the result, the outcome. More than the great big long tail which we often get lost in, is you want to have some practiced responses in the back of your mind that you’ve practiced about what was the situation.
What was the task that needed to be done, what was the action that I took and what was the result. We call that the Starr formula. You can write it out on a piece of paper. I’ve got a neat little chart in the course that I teach that people can download. You write the situation out and as succinctly a way that you can that will at least give the idea of what was going on. The task that needed to be done, what action that you took because they want to know your critical thinking, abilities, they want to know your competency under crisis situation or under stress, how you think on your feet. They want to know all that kind of stuff which is why they ask these questions.
They want to see if they can figure out how well you handled yourself without having to run to ask for assistance. What action did you take and then what was the outcome? What were the results of that whole situation? They might ask you three or four different kinds of situational questions on different topics. Problem-solving again, conflict is one. I mean, there’s so many, but those things if you rehearse the formula to be able to answer the question knowing that you want to be the answer to their problem. You want to be the solution to their problem of needing somebody that can do all the stuff without having to be handheld the whole entire time.
Austin: Yes. One of the things that really helped me- I love that you mentioned the formula- because as I went on more interviews than I would have liked to go on during my job search. What I noticed was that there were a lot of these different questions, but some of them popped up in multiple interviews. Maybe they were asked slightly differently so, “Tell me about a time that you faced a challenge” or, “Tell me about a time you failed” could kind of be the same question and wearing different clothes.
One of the things that really helped me was to isolate those questions and come up with maybe five or seven that I found were asked frequently. Tell me about yourself, what’s your biggest weakness? Tell me about a time you succeeded. Tell me about a time you worked with somebody who was difficult, client, a co-worker? I would come up with– I would use a similar formula and I would come up with my answer ahead of time and then, I would try to rehearse that. That was really helpful because even, like you said, it’s very hard to predict what people will ask you.
If you have this set of five or seven answers ready to go, I think people would be surprised at how you can pivot that answer to fit many of the questions that you’ll be asked. That really prevents like, when people ramble, that’s due to not being prepared, just like you said, and also, when people are trying to make up an answer on the spot, it requires a lot of brain power. Then if you get hit with that curve-ball question next, your brain power is a little bit sad from just trying to answer the basic one before.
I love the Starr formula. I love that you have a system that we put against the questions. Is there any anything else that people should be doing ahead of time? They research the company, they prepare for some of these questions using that Starr methodology. Is there anything else that we need to be with, printout the resume copies and know how to dress as well. Is there anything else that they should be doing before they hop in their car and head off to the interview on the big day?
Jenn: I’m just trying to think, there’s many things that I would suggest. One of the things I would think about, is that you are on from the moment you get out of your car, if you’re on in a car, or get off transit and you’re on the property of the company, you are on. How you treat the reception person, how you treat the door person, how you treat anybody that you encounter as you walk in, go up an elevator, et cetera. Everyone is potentially interviewing you. I would be aware that you need to be on, you need to– Definitely, one of the things that I keep hearing over and over again.
I do a lot of youth interview workshops with the local library and the government employment agency in town. We do a program called Rock that interview. We teach young adults, students. High school and young adults about interviewing. One of the things that the employers that we bring in always say is, “Don’t have your coffee with you.” [laughs] Have your coffee before you get to the interview. I don’t know, we’re on the west coast, everybody has coffee everywhere you go. [laughs]
Austin: A hundred percent.
Jenn: Even if it’s water, coffee, whatever, don’t have it in hand when you walk in because they– I always ask why? Why does that bother you? I know the answer, but I want to hear it from these employers. Every single time they say, “It’s rude.” I found that to be really simple It seems almost ridiculous advice but it is something that we unconsciously do. That is an impression. Before you get there, think about the impression that you want to make. What are you going to carry with you? What is that folder going to look like?
What is your outfit going to look like? Even if it’s not fair, people judge us on our appearance all the time. You have control over some of that. You don’t have control over a lot in an interview. You do have control over several things. One of them is how you behave when you walk in the building and what you carry with you, how prepared you are. Those are the kinds of things to think about well before you get in there and then, start having to answer questions. There are quite a few things to think about.
Austin: Definitely. I think it’s really interesting that you mentioned, whether we like it or not, we’re being judged, right? There was an interesting study that came out. I found it because somebody asked me about optimizing their LinkedIn profile. I was doing a little research and it turns out that your picture on your LinkedIn profile can be one of the most important things on there. Basically, what the folks in the study did was they had a couple groups and they showed people pictures ahead of time before they met people.
Then, they just had people meet people without showing the pictures. They basically found that it’s crazy that their data showed that it was something like 10 milliseconds a decision was made about whether this person was liked or not. They showed that even after 60 days, that first impressions still could not be overturned, which is crazy and mind-boggling. If you told me that without having it in a study in an abstract with an actual institution behind it, I would have told you that you’re nuts. It’s really true.
That’s totally critical as is being always on again. I interviewed somebody else who– They were more on the success story side. They had tried to get in with this company in LA for the longest time. They were applying and they were sending emails to people and nobody got back to them. Finally, he said, “You know what? I’m just going to go.” He brought his resume. He showed up at the door and he opened the door. There was somebody getting the mail. He just walked up to them and said, “Hey, you know, I want a job here. I will do anything. Here’s my resume.”
The person turned out to be the CEO. It could have been anybody, right? It could have been the janitor. It could have been the receptionist or it could have been the CEO. If he brushed that person off, assuming that they were the either janitor or the receptionist, big opportunity lost there. That’s fantastic advice. Thank you for sharing it. That’s a great segway into the actual interview itself, right? Stepping into the room. Since we’re always on, from the moment that your Austin and you make an eye contact, that first impression is happening. How you hold yourself, all that.
Tell us about what we can do from that moment when we first interact with our Austin through to- I know the Q&A thing, I’m really excited to talk about because that’s something that I recommend and get excited about it as well- but kind of that first moment up until the Q&A while we’re answering questions. What are some things that we should be mindful of? What are some strategies that we should employ to maximize our chances of getting to the next round, getting the offer?
Jenn: It’s funny because when I do talk to these employers in the workshops that I do, the biggest thing that they say is, “Smile.” [chuckles] People are so nervous. Sometimes some people have a really intense or serious face and they say, “Honestly, we just want to see that you smile.” [chuckles]. Your smile and of course, eye contacts because we’re in North America, that’s what you do. It may be different in different cultures. A handshake. We actually practice going around with the youth and shake their hands and make sure everybody practices because not everybody know how to do that?
Austin: You get the wet noodle sometimes.
Jenn: Look you in the eyes, say hello and if it’s more than one person doing the interviewing, then, it’s good to remember their names. Repeat their name back. If there’s a panel– I’ve been in an interview situation where there were a dozen people in the room. Talk about intimidating.
Jenn: I actually asked if I could take names. I sat down. I wrote their names down just so that I can remember-with my extra paper that I had in my folder- so I can remember the names of these people so that if someone said something, I’d say, “Thanks, Kathy. That’s a great question.” Now, I don’t have one of those memories that would allow me to just remember that, some people do have that blessing, but I don’t so, I would suggest that. The eye contact, the smile, people want to see a little bit of your personality.
You don’t get to show that in a resume. You get to show a tiny bit of your personality in a cover letter. The first time you walk into a room is not the first time they’re going to have seen you. Chances are and what I mean by that is they are going to look you up. They’re going to Google you. They’re going to look at your social media. They’re going to look at you on LinkedIn. They’re going to have seen your face already.
If you have, like me, a podcast, lots of people will listen to my podcast. If I have a video on YouTube, they’ll go and they’ll watch that first. Employers are doing that now. They’re checking people out, creeping people’s pages to find out about them before they walk into the room. Chances are, it’s not the first time that person is going to have laid eyes on you in some fashion. Keeping that in mind, your personality can come through. That’s the first step, I think.
Austin: Awesome. Great. We’ve walked in the room. We did the handshake. We were starting to be asked questions. We were answering questions. One of the biggest things that I’d love to, if you have tips on it, I don’t know, but I think, for me at least was nerves. You start sweating a little bit. The heart rate goes up. You’re shaking. I’m always wiping my hand on my pants before you shake their hand. Do you have any tips for dealing with that? I know that’s not probably something that you should be addressing after you’ve walked in the room but would love to hear if you have any advice for people.
Jenn: In the course that I’ve got, I actually have a whole section called, “Your circle of excellence.” It’s an exercise that you can do in advance that will prepare you to step into your circle of excellence, help you to practice being calm, and getting rid of the nerves. If you don’t have that or have time to do that, your physiology–You can trick your brain with your physical body and you can do that by changing your posture. While you’re waiting, if you’re going to the bathroom for a couple of minutes before you have to go into the room, even if just standing up straight- and this sounds really weird but it’s been researched- even just standing up straight and doing like the superhero pose.
You put your hands on your hips. Your take a few breaths and just even doing that or putting your hands up and doing this will actually trick your brain into a position of feeling like you are full of energy and you’ve got some power. Again, it’s a trick but it tends to help a little bit with the nerves. Everyone knows you’re going to be nervous. It would be weird if you weren’t nervous. In fact, if you weren’t nervous, that would be a signal and a red flag to the Austin. Everyone shows their nervousness a little bit differently.
They’re going to cut you a little bit of slack but it’s a given that you’re going to be nervous. You’re on display here. Even sometimes just being aware of that can help a little bit. Remember to breathe. That’s the other thing. It’s remember to breathe. Take your time if someone asks you a question that you actually don’t know. It’s okay to leave a little bit of silence. It’s okay to think and to leave a little bit of silence. I know in our culture, in our society, we don’t like silence. We want to jump in and fill it. To say all that, “That’s a good question.”
Usually is a time by our statement. “That’s a good question.” If you sit back for a moment and think, people, will be okay with that. They’ll be okay with letting you sit and think for a moment and then, you can give a better answer, I think. Remembering to breathe, if you want to do the physical, sit up straight that kind of thing, give your body the idea that you’ve got a little bit of control. Try not to look nervous. You fake it until you become it. Those are some of the things that I would offer.
Austin: I love the Amy Cuddy power pose special day. That’s awesome. Thanks, thanks for sharing. I know a lot of people, that’s probably one of the biggest hurdles for them to overcome. Nerves can do weird stuff, you rehearse your answers for weeks, you show up, and then, somebody asks you this question and then, everything’s blank. That’s when you really freak out and it’s tough to recover. It’s awesome to have a few strategies to combat that.
Now, our interviews winding down and the person sitting across the table says, “Jenn, I’ve asked you a lot of questions. Do you have any questions for me?” How- I know we hinted at it before- how should I handle the situation? Should I even ask questions at all? If so, what questions should I be asking? How can I maximize that opportunity?
Jenn: Absolutely, you should ask questions every single time without a doubt. As I said before, you might have two or three that you’ve chosen before you get there and something might occur to you as you’re sitting there listening to them. As they ask questions, there might be something that you have a question about. I don’t recommend asking anything about salary, about wages, about the details of the job because you don’t have the job yet and you may not have the job. You can ask some questions that will give you more information maybe that you’re looking for.
One of the questions I love that I often offer to people is, “Why do you like working in this place? What is the best thing for you about working here?” Turn it on to the Austin and ask them that question because you might learn something from that. Those kinds of questions, “What is the culture working here? What kind of culture is the work space?” Those kinds of questions you can ask. I have a list of 25 of them that I find people really enjoy. You can google things too, you can look it up and ask.
Put it into your search engine and see what questions come up. There are lots and lots of options out there. I would stay away from the exact details of the job but you might ask, “Is there a big company turnover here? What’s the longevity rate for people here?” Those kinds of questions are perfectly legitimate and will give you real answers because again, you’re trying to decide for yourself if this is a place that you would like to work. Maybe you already know that.
Austin: Yes, where we spend 40-50 hours of our week, times 50 weeks a year, times 30 to 35 years of our life. Where you work is a lot. It’s very important that you get these clarifying questions ahead of time. I don’t know if you realize this but in my opinion, sometimes, I see that maybe there will be a red flag in some of these answers but candidates sometimes choose to overlook that because they think, “It won’t affect me” or, “I just really want this job and I’ll overlook that one piece no matter how bad it gets.”
Jobs are like relationships. Some things are slight red flag or slight annoyance in the beginning, that’s only going to grow as time goes on. This is a great way to assess that, to diagnose it and don’t ignore the gut feelings, I think is the takeaway.
Jenn: That’s huge. The other thing too is if you are able to, if your nerves aren’t in the way too much, if you’re able to pay close attention to their body language, I’m a big fan of body language. If you are able to pay attention to their body language when you’re answering questions, depending on how many people are in the room, if you’re answering a question and you noticed that somebody maybe has more they want to ask or you notice a hesitation or there’s something.
If you don’t get a chance to address that until they ask you if you have any questions, then one of the questions that I think is a really good question to ask is, “Was there anything in any of my answers today that you would like to have asked me more about?” That might allow that person to circle back and say, “Yes, when you said X, I wondered about Y.”
That is another question that might give them an opportunity to go back over the things they’ve written down as you’ve spoken and ask any wonderings they might have had because sometimes that will clarify a worry that they’ve had about you as a candidate and might alleviate that worry which then, might lead to the job. It’s a great question to ask at the end.
Austin: I love that one. I totally agree, it’s fantastic. Once the questions are over and the interview is over, I like to follow up with a thank you but I’d love to hear your thoughts on thank you notes. Are they worth it? How to approach them and again, how to make the most out of them?
Jenn: Absolutely, they’re worth it. It depends again, on what kind of company it is that you’re interviewing with. If you can hand write a note and mail it in the old-fashioned mail system, that is fabulous because that doesn’t happen very often for people. If you email it, depending on what kind of industry it is, if it’s a tech industry, if it’s something where someone would open a video and watch a thank you video, even better. It’s a marketing company or something like that, get a little bit creative.
If it’s not that kind of a company, just do a quick little email to the person who invited you for an interview would do and right away, that same day if you can do it, is what I would say. Pop it in the mail if you have something that you can send by mail or send an e-mail. Absolutely, a follow up is, what do they say, the fortune is in the follow up, right? I read that somewhere.
Austin: One of my favorite things to do is combine the last two things that we talked about is sometimes, there’s a hard stop for your interview, right? You have many questions that you want to ask but you only get answers because also, when you ask people in open-ended question, thought-provoking questions like the ones that you mentioned before, you’re going to get a real answer. You’re not just going to get a one line here. That takes up time and I think that’s a fantastic opportunity to continue the conversation in the thank you note.
Again, building relationships with people, getting somebody- as cheesy as it may sound- but getting somebody to like you and building that positive association with them is huge. If you’re able to stay top of mind by following up and asking questions, that’s fantastic. If you only get to ask two or three of the questions but you had five, maybe say to them in the interview, “I know you have the hard stop, do you mind if I get your email so that I can follow up? I just had a couple more questions I really love the answers that you have and I want to get more info.”
Then, you can pop them into the thank you note and people really, really appreciate that. I agree with you, thank you notes are an absolute must. Jenn, mentioned this course that you have a couple times and I want to get more information on that but before we talk about that, we’ve talked through a ton of stuff and there’s a lot of info there. Sometimes, when you watch one of these, you tend to take out one or two things. In your opinion, that is the number one piece of advice you have for people who are interviewing at companies and want to turn more of those interviews into job offers?
Jenn: I would say, you need to know yourself pretty well. You need to know your own values and be able to write them down or name them, you need to know what you want in a job and what you don’t want in a job, what your needs are as far as how many hours you’re going to work, what kinds of hours you’re going to work, travel distance, all that kind of stuff. Know all of that stuff before you get into an interview and be aware of the cultural fits.
If you are in the midst of it and those red flags, as you say, are coming up in your gut, you need to trust your gut because you don’t want to lock you, even if it’s a fabulous job. If something is telling you that this isn’t going to do for, you need to trust that because another interview will come along, there will be a better job that will be more suited to your values and your beliefs than your needs. If you’re able to trust your gut then, it will serve you best in the end, I think.
Austin: Definitely. I think one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a job searchers just taking a job for the sake of taking a job. Too many people out there- because it’s not easy, you and I both know that, when you’ve applied to hundreds of companies and this one finally offered you the job, it’s very easy to say, “Yes, thank you. Finally.” -but if something is off about it, there will be another opportunity.
You do have to have faith and know yourself which is fantastic advice. Jenn, thank you so much for sharing everything. The advice was fantastic. If people want to get more of this similar advice so that they can start taking action and turning more of these interviews into job offers, tell us a little bit more about this course that you’ve mentioned a couple times.
Jenn: Sure, it’s called how to ace a job interview when you haven’t interviewed in a long time. I work with people who either have never interviewed before at the younger age range or people who are in 40s to 60s who are trying to make a job transition or get back into the workforce after a while. While this course would be good for anybody, I am focusing a little bit on that. It’s quite a long course, fully online, has some downloadable worksheet activities to do, lots of videos.
I also have a lot of links to a number of free podcasts that I have done, right in the course itself. There is quite a lot in there and it can be found on my website over @careersbyjenn.com.
Austin: Awesome, perfect. I hope people will take up on the offer here because the advice that you share is awesome and the podcast as well. If people aren’t sold yet, listen to a couple of episodes and I’m sure they will be sold. The podcast is also @carrersbyjenn. You can find it on iTunes, I feel you can pretty much find it everywhere.
Jenn: Pretty much.
Austin: Anywhere you can find podcasts, anywhere podcasts are sold. Perfect. Thank you so much, Jenn, I appreciate you taking time to stop by and talk to you very soon.
Jenn: Thanks Austin, it was a pleasure.
Austin is the founder of Cultivated Culture where he helps people land jobs without connections, without traditional experience, and without applying online. His strategies have been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, & Fast Company and has helped people just like you land jobs at Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, & more.