The “IT” Factor — at an Interview

We all know it when we see it– We call it the “it factor.” “Wow, she’s definitely got it.” But what in the world is “it” and how do you get it?

“It” is the way you present yourself to the world. If you come in with your head hanging low and mumbling to your shoes, people think you lack confidence. If you come in with your head up high and interrupt at any chance you get, people think you are arrogant. So, how do you find that middle balance? How do you present your “it” at an interview?

  1. Be true to yourself. Know yourself and be honest with yourself about who you are. Those who have “it” don’t want to be anything other than them. They believe in themselves, they established a brand for who they are, and that is how they come off to people.
  2. Be intentional. What is it that you are trying to accomplish? If you’re trying to accomplish in getting a job, then you have to act like it. Speaking low or interrupting others does not convey that you want a job.
  3. Watch your pitch and tone. Make sure that you are speaking at the appropriate pitch and tone for the individual. You want to convey sincerity in your answers.
  4. Mind your body language. Sit straight, but don’t be too stiff. Shoulders should be positioned back a little and your chest should be out, to convey an image of confidence. Be sure you do not cross your arms at any point or get too comfortable and slouch back on the chair.
  5. Gain their trust. You want to make a good connection with person interviewing you. Sometimes we tend to forget that the interviewers are just as human as we are.
    • Smile, often and sincerely
    • Use their name when answering questions
    • Use your active listening skills and try to use key words in your answer back to the individual
  6. Wear clothes one step higher than the position you are interviewing for. If the organization is business casual, you wear a suit. If it’s casual, you wear business casual attire. If it’s jeans and work boots, you wear slacks and a polo. Present an outside image that conveys you are serious about the position and you respect their time. (P.S. Make sure everything is ALWAYS tucked in and no cleavage showing)

What were some of your best and worst dressed experiences? Have you ever had a wardrobe emergency, and how did you get over it?

Let’s Talk About Me (Part 3)

After all of that hard work you put in understanding yourself, your career aspirations, and your values, it’s time to sit down with your supervisor and have a career development plan. By taking the time to think through the questions and having a draft of some sort prepared will allow for a more engaging discussion and demonstrate that you are taking responsibility for your development.

  1. Get your head in the game. Prepare yourself mentally to ensure that your tone truly reflects that you are wanting to develop and grow rather than job-hop outta here. Your boss will be a lot more receptive to help you.
    • Stay calm: deep breathes.
    • Be focused: have a prepared agenda.
    • Be open to suggestions: truly open your mind up to receive honest feedback.
    • Do not get defensive: Rather than getting upset that you’re hearing something contrary to what you thought, be open and ask follow up questions. Ask for examples, clarification, and what steps you can take to develop in those areas.
  2. Have a plan. Make an action plan and stick with it. Find ways to make sure to stay accountable to your plans goals. It could be in the form of follow up meets, emails on when you’ve accomplished something, or any other creative ways you and your boss come up with that makes sense to you.
    • What are your career objectives?
    • What skills will you need to get there?
    • What are your development plans to get there?
    • What are you doing to do in the next 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months to reach your objective?
  3. Ask for input. Rather than coming in with your own thoughts on development, which is great and shows your initiative, ask for your boss’s feedback on it. Are your goals and timelines reasonable and achievable? Do they agree on your areas of strengths and development opportunities? What other insight can they offer?
  4. Get skill development opportunities. Once you have identified the areas where you need to grow, ask for development opportunity feedback. Are there assignments that your boss can give you to develop or are there things you need to do outside of the workplace, such as reading books, participant in webinars, or continuing education to obtain certifications.
  5. Set milestones and timelines. The most important part of the development plan is to review your actions regularly and determine when you have hit milestones in your timeline. Do not let this be a wasted effort for you or your boss— This is you owning your career progression and development!

One last point: What if you request a meeting with your boss, frame it in such a way that you are wanting to grow in the company (as opposed to your own selfish needs), and your boss still says no? Well… this is your sign that you are at a dead-end job and it’s time to find a place that will gladly want you to learn, grow, and develop into a professional for your field.

Have you ever had a development discussion with your boss? How did it help you grow?