I’ve been looking for a new job. I won’t tell you how long because it’s kind of disheartening and I don’t want you to be discouraged. Looking for a job even if you already have one is stressful. I will share my experiences with you so you can be prepared for interviews and hopefully find success.
For context: I’m a Black woman in my late forties in a midwestern metropolitan area. I’m currently in an administrative role and I’ve been employed at the same company for six years. I held a marketing position my first two years with the company. I’m looking for a job in graphic design, marketing or administration that will increase my salary by at least $10k.
A big part of the challenges I’m facing are that there aren’t that many jobs paying what I would like to make. I’ve been searching on job websites and there aren’t many jobs that pay much more than what I currently earn. Pickings are kind of slim overall.
My first bit of advice is simple. Have something to wear to an in person interview. A year or so ago I had an interview and tried on my suit the day before. I had put on weight and my clothes didn’t fit. I didn’t have time to find something new. I pieced an interview outfit together out of a sport jacket, blouse and slacks. It was OK but the blouse was a bit low cut and I was self conscious throughout the interview. Since then I have cleaned out my closet and updated my wardrobe. Always be prepared for a great opportunity.
It is common for interviewers to ask behavioral questions. Behavioral questions are questions where the interviewer asks you to tell them a story about a particular scenario. They say things like “Tell me about a time you worked as a team”, “Tell me about a time you failed”.
I hate these questions. They are too vague and I’m unsure of what to say. I don’t understand what the answers have to do with the position that I am applying for. I’m pretty guarded when it comes to workplace situations and I don’t like to reveal personal, non business related information so these question make me uncomfortable. I’ve been on interviews where I wasn’t even asked about my background and skill set. I felt like I was being pranked and not taken seriously.
I researched how to answer behavioral questions. I followed the advice of this video. I thought about the questions I’ve been asked more than once . I typed them up and typed answers and saved them on a file that I saved to my Google drive.
It’s also a good idea to research questions to ask on an interview. I never know what to ask. I know what I would like to ask but if I actually asked them I would tank the interview. The wild card at work places is group dynamics, personalities and cliques but of course an interviewee can’t ask those questions. I’m mostly concerned about how much they pay, the benefits package and how far the drive is to work. Otherwise, I will show up and do what I’m asked with my game face on.
Be prepared for some inconsiderate and unprofessional behavior from prospective employers. I have been ghosted by interviewers during the interview process. I have had interviewers never get back to me after an interview even after I contacted them to ask about their decision. A lot of prospective employers are not very considerate of interviewers time and energy during the process. Put yourself in the right head space to deal with the flakiness and passive aggressive, phony behavior. Roll with the punches.
It’s OK to not accept every invitation to interview. There is investment involved with interviewing. If you work a 9-5 the interview likely does as well so you need to take time away from the position that is already paying you in order to explore a different opportunity. There is time involved in preparing for the interview and possibly travel if the interview is in person. If the offer does not match your goals respectfully decline unless you want to meet with employers to practice interview skills.
My last bit of advice is simple encouragement. Be focused and specific about what you want and keep plugging away. A job search can be discouraging because all you can do is express interest and interview; and wait. Be confident in your abilities and what you have to offer. Your education and experience is behind you.
The foundation is laid and the hard work is behind you. You can’t do much about whether people like you or not. Believe that things are going to work out for the best one way or another. A rejection may be a blessing in disguise. Best wishes.