Since we're all about sharing here, I thought I'd pass on the 10 juiciest lessons that I took away from our experiences.
Hopefully they'll be of some benefit to you as either an interviewer or interviewee somewhere down the road.
So here goes...
1. Attitude is everything. If you're smiling, excited and optimistic, you've already won half the battle. If you're cold, distant and uninterested, you've already lost 99% of the battle.
2. Be yourself. If you act like someone else and they like you, they don't actually like YOU. They like the person you're pretending to be. If you end up getting a job there, you won't be able to keep up the facade for very long anyway. Honesty and authenticity are very appealing characteristics. If both parties stay true to themselves, they'll know if they're right for each other. And in the end, that's usually what matters most.
3. Relax. Interviews are not really interviews at all. They're conversations. Treat them like conversations, and the tension will slowly dissolve. Remember: when you walk into that office, you don't have the job to begin with. In theory, you have nothing to lose. You either come out way ahead or back where you started. If you approach the situation with a "win-draw" mentality, most of the pressure will fall by the wayside.
4. Appearance counts. Before you meet people, virtually the only judgment you can make is based on aesthetics. What you're wearing matters. What they're wearing matters. How you sit, stand, shake hands, hold your pen and walk up the stairs counts. Not enormously, but enough. First impressions are huge. Also, how does the building look? Is the lobby clean and organized? Are the cubicles bunched together? Is the ceiling high or low? Does it look like a fun place to work? Does it invite you to come back?
5. Fit is crucial. All the smarts, skills and experience in the world mean nothing without the right fit. If your values aren't aligned with those of the company, you're doomed. If you like to have fun and they're always serious, don't even bother. Seriously. The more you fit in, the more you'll want to come back every day and bust your butt. If you're always at odds with your coworkers, you're going to hate your job. Simple as that.
6. Liking means more than talent. The days of standing in line and putting decals on widgets is over. People don't hire you because you're capable. They hire you because they want to work with you. If you don't get along, and get along well, the interview will probably be fruitless. Unless, of course, you applied for the "Assistant Placer of Decals on Widgets" position...
7. Be persistent. It's incredibly easy to get lazy, give up and feel sorry for yourself. People will turn you down, never call you back, and forget your name over and over again. None of that matters. What matters is perseverance. If you can't handle losing a few battles along the way, you're in for a tough road ahead. Getting a job is like winning a war. It takes patience, planning, time, effort, dedication and a little bit of luck. The chips will fall your way sooner or later. If you stay persistent, you'll at least give yourself a chance to catch them.
8. Bring an insane amount of (intelligent) questions. Nothing feels worse that not being prepared. If you don't bring loads of questions, you're not prepared. At some point, the interviewer will ask you what you want to know. For the record, you want to know everything. Be curious. Be interested. Be engrossed. Ask your question, and then get ready to listen. Don't think of what you're going to say next. Just soak up every word like a giant sponge. The more questions you ask, the more you'll get out of the experience. And as a bonus, they'll know you care deeply about their business. When you care about what they care about, you both start to align, and that's when the magic happens.
9. Focus on their needs, not yours. It's tempting to sell ourselves, to talk about how great we are, and to show off our past experiences. But guess what. No one cares. What they really care about is how your "amazingness" will translate into success for their company. Don't focus on your talents, focus on what your talents will do for them.
10. Blogging will give you a HUGE leg up. Blogging forces you to analyze, collaborate and create solutions. It also gives you plenty of ideas for improving customer experiences, businesses and relationships. These skills (among countless others) will give you confidence, poise, energy and know-how when it comes time to explain yourself. Your insights will be sharper, your thinking will be deeper, and your ability to express your opinions clearly and concisely will be much stronger. Blogging will prepare you better than any "How-To" book in the world. Trust me.
These 10 things are just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more we can learn from each other about this process as a whole, so please feel free to share.
What are your best interviewing tips? What do you wish you would've known? For those of you who've been on both sides of the table, what have you learned from each situation?