Yes, there are ways you can nail your job interview to score your dream job, but these are some awesome interview tips if you need to impress your potential employer without breaking the bank.
Let’s be totally honest: interviews are rarely anyone’s idea of a good time. They can be hella stressful, especially if the interview is for a job you’re really excited about, or if you’re interviewing for a job that would be a step up on the career ladder for you. The stress of it all can lead us to make some pretty iffy money decisions, but there are ways to keep your budget intact.
Trust me: You can ace your interview and land that great new job without blowing your budget on a brand-new blazer. I know, because I’ve done it – more than once.
Do: Plan your transportation ahead of time
Wouldn’t it be great to show up to your interview on time, with a few minutes breathing room, without spending a fortune on a cab across town? That, my friends, is not a dream. It’s well within your reach if you spend a bit of time planning your transportation to and from the interview.
Once you know where the office is, do a bit of recon.
- Is it near a bus route or a subway station?
- Will you need to change buses to get there?
- Is there any traffic nearby at those times? (Google can help you figure that one out if you aren’t familiar with the area.)
- If you do have access to a car, is there (free) parking nearby?
- If you’re going to an office building, will there be a huge wait for the elevators that will make or break getting to your meeting on time?
If you can’t figure out any of the answers to these covertly, feel free to email your contact for the interview and ask them. It shows initiative, and that you’re taking their time seriously. Interviewers love that shit.
Don’t: Buy a fancy new outfit
The temptation to buy a fancy new blazer or that perfect new work tote bag when you’re interviewing can be so strong. A new outfit can make you feel like you’re A Real Professional, and sure, it can boost your confidence temporarily, but it’s not going to make or break your interview.
The only bar you need to meet when you’re getting dressed for an interview is “not inappropriate for this work environment.” Instead of spending time shopping for new clothes to wear, invest that time in researching the office where you’re interviewing. Do they have photos of their office online? What are the people wearing in those photos?
Take that as a guide, and step it up a bit using the clothing you already have in your closet. For example, if they’re a jeans-and-t-shirt office: Dark jeans, a nice top and a blazer will work nicely, and won’t stand out as wildly inappropriate.
Unless you’re interviewing at Vogue, that’s the only standard you need to meet. Once you hit that bar of generally appropriate, everyone will focus on what’s really important – your experience and your ideas. And if you are interviewing at Vogue? Good luck to you.
Do: Keep it on the DL at work
It’s always best to keep your interviewing discreet if you currently have a full-time gig. That means being prepared with a quick retort if someone jokes that you really dressed up today and that you must have an interview later, and some believable excuses if you need to be out of the office for an hour during the week.
Now, I’m not saying that would make you lose your job everywhere, because employees switching jobs is a fact of life, and a reasonable boss wouldn’t fire you just because you went on a few interviews. But losing your current job because you were openly unhappy working there, and told everyone you were looking for a new position would sink your budget real quick.
Don’t: Be unprepared for the salary conversation
One of the surprising – but important – ways an interview can impact your budget is when the salary conversation comes up unexpectedly. Even if it’s a first interview, you never know when someone’s going to bring up how much money you’d like to make, or whether you’re OK with a certain salary for this job.
Do some digging on sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn’s new Salary Tool to find out what people make in your area when they have this particular job. This is the most important number you can know going into any kind of salary conversation, and will help you figure out if they’re offering a competitive salary – and to ask for more if their first number isn’t even close.
If you have an interview coming up, don’t stress either your mind or your wallet. Be prepared, do your homework and keep the focus on the skills you have to offer. Not the leather jacket you wore on the elevator ride up.
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