“Banish the Butterflies”

Sweaty palms, queasy stomach, sweat on the brow? Sound familiar? If it does, you’ve experienced exactly what I’ve gone through during the dreaded interview process.

Interviewing may seem mysterious, but as an agent sourcing and diversity specialist here at AmFam, I’m here to debunk the mystery and give you a few pointers to help you prepare and be more at ease.

1. Research the company as well as the job. A great place to start is the company’s website. Typically, company websites tout their mission and vision. Read this over to help determine whether their goals align with your values and your expectations of an employer. Make sure to check out the careers section to see what the company’s philosophy is regarding internal advancement and other opportunities. In addition to the website, you may want to reach out to a current employee and solicit feedback regarding the employer.

Don’t be afraid to call the Human Resources Department and request a detailed job description to help understand the responsibilities of the position. This will help you determine whether or not it’s a good fit with your skills. Note what is listed as “required” and what’s listed as “recommended” or “preferred”. Try to mention training and accomplishments that fit those skills in your cover letter and resume. Also, be sure you can discuss how you meet the required skills and how you fit the bill for any other attributes listed in the description.

2. Here at American Family, we conduct behavioral-based interviews. Basically, we want to hear about a real-life situation in your career and how you handled it. Answering these questions can sometimes be tricky if you’re not prepared. If you have the detailed job description, it’s a good idea to write down one or two examples per competency (typically job descriptions have 3-12 competencies) and refer to those during the interview or at least use them to prep for the interview.

3. Bring along samples of your work and refer to the samples when answering questions. This will set you aside from those who do not provide work samples.

4. Don’t forget your manners! Dress professionally (make sure your outfit isn’t itchy, dirty or uncomfortable), arrive early, have a firm handshake, don’t ramble, ask well-thought-out questions and thank the interviewer for his or her time. You may also want to follow up with a thank you letter after the interview is complete and reiterate in the letter why you are the best person for the job.

5. And last, but not least, do yourself a favor: eat a little something before-hand and don’t drink too much coffee! Coffee can give you the jitters (on top of the ones you probably already have) and you don’t want the interviewer to remember you because of your rumbly tummy.

Happy Interviewing!!!

**Stacy is an Agent & Sourcing Specialist. She’s had the opportunity to work for American Family for 10 years, 8 of which have been spent in Human Resources. She never thought she would work for an “insurance” company, but she does, and LOVES it (it’s way more than just insurance)! Stacy works a part-time schedule to balance work and time spent with her husband and son. She enjoys traveling, camping & being creative and crafty.

One Comment

  1. Bradley Moore
    Posted September 23, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Jeff Close pointed our class – Job Search Preparation at MATC – to this site. Stacy, after reading your tips, I must say that the advice given is very helpful to students who are just entering the job market.

    Interviews are hard to do on many levels. I think one of the hardest parts of being interviewed for me is that I have to talk about myself (and talk myself up). I’m usually one to downplay my achievements, so I find it uncomfortable to suddenly do the opposite. That’s on top of the fact that I’m likely interviewing for a job I really want and therefore quite nervous.

    Thank you for the tips!

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