Although the working world is, generally, tougher on women, there’s one area in which we excel – interviews.
Recent research identified that although women are choosier about which jobs they apply for, they are much more likely to be called for an interview when they do.
This is all good news, because interviews are valuable experiences and, having taken the time to identify the openings that are closest to your goals, an interview is the only way you’ll learn more about the position.
In fact, we’d go so far as to say that you should go to every interview you get the chance to. Here’s why:
Practice makes perfect
The only way you’re going to improve your interview skills is to practice them, especially if you look into some of the dark arts like mirroring or sleight of mouth. If you take any opportunity you can get to rehearse, then you’ll soon make those interview skills look like the most natural thing in the world.
In addition to rehearsing, there is also a lot to be said for experiencing as much as possible in life. Meeting new people, going into new offices, finding out more about companies and what they do – you never know when that information may come in handy, weeks or years down the line.
You’ll also learn a lot more about what employers, in general, are looking for by going to the interview. If you’re not that bothered about whether you get the job or not, then you can focus instead on trying to work out what employers are looking for, and experimenting with different answers to standard questions.
You’re also expanding your network, and if you do a good job of making your interviewer like you, that might pay off in the long run even if it doesn’t in the short-term.
Seeing is believing
Sometimes the only way you can truly get a feel for an organisation is by going there and talking to people. You’ll get a much better idea of the company culture if you go in person, you’ll get to see other employees at work. Does the atmosphere fit what you’d expect from their website? Can you visualise yourself working there?
You might also spot signs of trouble – does the firm look like it’s doing well, or are there problems? Is the equipment out dated, does the office need repair or redecoration? These things give you clues about whether the company is going places or not.
You might also find ways to connect with your interviewers, or the company, by looking at what is displayed on office walls or on a desk. In other words, there are far more clues to how well you’ll mesh with the company if you go and look for them at the scene.
There’s always the chance of a bit of real insider info for your field, too. Listen carefully to what is said by the panel, but also in general conversation as you move about the building. What can you learn that will stand you in good stead for the next job interview?
Be open to surprise
It can be difficult to get a true idea of a role or the company from an advert, and if you’re applying for more than one role they can all blur into one. Going along to the interview is a really good way of making sure that you understand the position. If you’re trying to move into a new field, then the more interviews you go to, the more you learn.
And you might just find that the role which didn’t look appealing on paper, looks great in real life. Why? Because you click with the interviewer, or there’s more potential to the position than you expected. Or maybe you go and interview for one role, but you’re better suited for something else they have. Basically, you have no idea how a conversation is going to pan out until you actually have the conversation.
What going along for the interview might do is put you in a position where you’re offered a role that you’re not really interested in. If that happens, then you can always turn it down, politely. What you should never say no to is experience; to getting out there and talking to people, learning more about the companies that operate in your chosen career space and making more contacts.
To quote Paul Coelho: Be brave. Take risks. There is no substitute for experience.
About the author
Sarah Dixon writes for Inspiring Interns, which helps career starters find the perfect job, in everything from sales jobs to marketing internships. To browse their graduate jobs London listings, visit their website.