Last week I promised to write an article between the two: nailing that interview or better luck next time, depending on the outcome. Well, here’s me fulfilling the promise.
Let me start with saying: I got the gig! I’m not saying this to be cocky, but I’m actually quite proud to be able to secure the position. It’s something that I really want, and there’s no greater feeling than knowing that you’re still in the game (read: able to get a job) even when your current profession is being a student.
So if you have an interview coming up, or are in your last semester of study, there’s no harm in learning more tips and tricks on how to secure that ‘Congratulations!’ letter.
The background story
One month before my Master’s degree started, I received an email from Unimelb (The University of Melbourne) saying that they are offering one 12-month social media internship position for postgraduate students. Right away, I knew I wanted this gig. I would have to find part-time jobs anyway, and I would very much prefer to spend time learning more of my respective field rather than waiting tables.
To apply, I was asked to send my CV, cover letter and address to the key selection criteria. While I have done the first two documents a dozen times, I don’t even know what ‘address to the key selection criteria’ even means (hint: it’s basically showcasing your skills to each point in the job description).
I spent an entire weekend doing this (like, 15 hours of working time). It was worth it though, because I was asked to do a phone interview the next week.
I would not go into detail about what the phone interview was – I just remembered it being very short. Two weeks later, I was asked to come for a face-to-face interview.
Nail that interview
It would have been a lie if I say I was not freaked out – I was. But then my best friend reminded me that “If you have done your research, you’ll ace that interview.”
Which is true for most cases.
Research, really, is your best friend in coming to an interview. Suck all kinds of information from the company’s webpage. Look at their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Find out what they really want. Prepare stories from your old jobs that can act as examples to showcase your skills. These are the boring things you already know, but I think what made me able to get that position was this:
I have a (somewhat) strong online presence.
For those of you who want to work in the communications, my first advice would be to have a website. It could even be a blog. Get an internet portal where your interviewer could stalk you and find out more of who you really are before and after the interview, because truth is, you can only showcase so much during the interview.
If you’re online, your interviewer could access your skills even more.
So three days before the interview, I had an idea to do this: marcellapurnama.com/profile.
Instead of doing a general profile, I tailored my skill sets to show what the department wanted, and presented myself that way. Ask yourself: what kind of skills does your prospective company really need? Like, I could write and that was great, but what my interviewer really wanted to see were: my interviewing skills and experience with video projects. So I highlighted just that.
When I finally sat for that interview, I made an opportunity to show this page. I was not sure if they were impressed (I certainly was impressed with myself), but they visited my profile and even went to other places in my website (which was the real purpose of creating this profile page).
I could say that I got hired because they had access to my skills, not necessarily because I was the most gifted person among the pool of interviewees.
So if you’re having that interview some time soon, consider having a website, a blog or an online portfolio. Put it on your email signature, mention it during your interview, include it in your follow-up email. Oh, I can’t stress enough of the importance of having a solid LinkedIn profile as well.
You may think you don’t need one as you don’t want to work in the online media, but I seriously don’t think any harm could come from having a strong online presence. I know this blog has benefited me a lot. It has secured 80 per cent of my jobs for me.
Ps. If you’d like to take a look at my profile page, CV or address to key selection criteria, the links are still there. I’m not sure when I’ll put them down, but for the mean time, feel free to check them out! Feedback and comment would also be much appreciated.
Photo by Eduardo Sanches