• Connie DeMillo

How to Ace a Job Interview with a White Guy

When I was a freelance graphic designer, I had to interview for every job I got. That was a lot of interviewing, mostly with white men, and I learned how to do it so well that I was surprised when I didn't get the job. what follows is is the process I developed.

First, find your three best attributes or talents that you will bring to the workplace.

Think about one thing you love to do so much that you don't notice how much time has passed. That's your first attribute. Video gaming doesn't count, in my book, but I know others will disagree. Next, think about a trait you possess that matters a lot to an employer. Showing up on time every day is huge. The biggest reason people get fired is they come to work late, or don't show up at all. Next, think about what kind of people you get along with and what kind you don't. I get along with most everybody, I'm very flexible and do well on a team. People I don't get a long with are the toxic kind that suck the joy out of every moment. So my three attributes are resourcefulness, flexibility, and I am a team player. These three attributes are the foundation of your interview prowess, so write them down, refine them as you go, and make sure they reflect who you are as a potential employee.

Second, think about experiences you have had where any of your three attributes resulted in success for the company you worked for.

Write down as many as you can think of, and keep adding t the list. When I was a teacher, I saved my district hundreds each year by attending a free paper giveaway that the local paper companies held for educators. (Resourcefulness.) I was an active participant in a successful Personal Learning Group of peer teachers. We shared successes and asked for help from each other. (Get along with others.) I made a unique relationship with each student based on their personal goals, and acted as their mentor. (Creativity.)

Build a killer resume.

Craft an objective that includes a benefit for the employer. "My five year goal is to raise the bottom line of the company I am working for, at the same time thriving as a team member." Don't just focus on your own goals, think about what your unique set of skills and talents can bring to the table.

The next section is your prior work experience. Start with the company, your position title, your start and end date. List any jobs you had, especially those that are relevant to the position you want to apply for. Write a small paragraph that details the type of work you did, and why you left the position. A good reason to leave a position is that you got a better paying job. Do not say anything negative about your former employer, prospective employers want to see that you were a productive employee, so if you can add any relevant numbers, like money you saved or brought into the company, this is where to put them.

Your next section can either be education or skills.

List any education you have, even if it isn't college. If you played sports or in the band, that indicates teamwork. If you ran for student council, that indicates leadership. Any foreign language you speak fluently is a plus. What subjects are you most interested in? If you have attended college, list which college you went to, any degree you earned (that indicates that you have follow through.)

Craft a cover letter template and customize it for each position you apply for.

Think of your cover letter as a triple play: the first paragraph is an introduction, the second paragraph is a little about why you are right for this job (think back to your three positive attributes.) The third paragraph thanks your recipient for their time and requests an interview. Have your name, address and contact info at the top of your cover letter so you are easy to contact. Before you customize your cover letter, check out the company's website and do some research. Know all you can about the company before coming into the interview is a great strategy.

Go out and get an interview outfit, or shop your closet for what you already have.

Dress in business clothing. Black pants and white shirt will do for almost any job, unless the culture of the company requires a suit. Get some shoes that you will love to wear. Keep your outfit clean in the closet at all times. It's okay to ask what the dress expectations are before you come to the interview.

The day before the interview, drive to the company and gauge how long it takes to get there, and figure out where where you will park.

I once had an interview in downtown St. Paul and was fifteen minutes late because I couldn't find a place to park, not to mention way too stressed out, to do well in the interview.

How to ace the interview questions.

  1. "Tell me a little about yourself." Be prepared to say up to three things that will be of interest to the employer. Think back to your three golden traits. Or, you could mention that you are interested in science or math, a sports fan, your purpose is to maybe find some common ground with your interviewer. That can begin to build interest in you. Or, describe your current position, and try to work in one or two of your great attributes.

  2. "Why do you want to work for us?" Make sure you answer is something that will benefit both you and the company. Win-win situations are great for business. Let your answer reflect the research you have done on the company.

  3. "What motivates you?" In every answer, refer back to y our three attributes and try to work them into. your answer, and all of your answers. has a list of 125 interview questions and suggested answers.

  4. "What are you looking for in terms of salary?" Do your research so you know the range of salary that might be possible. Or, ask what range the interviewer has in mind. Have a number in your head (not the absolute lowest you will accept, but a pay rate that would support your needs and keep you happy.

  5. "Do you have any questions for me?" Here is your answer that gets you the job almost every time: "What are you looking for in a candidate that you have difficulty finding?" This turns the interview around, and you become the interviewer. You will receive the exact info you need to be the best employee you can. Do the things your boss needs done. When you make your boss look good, you look good.

Immediately after the interview, write and send a thank you card.

Thank your interviewer for his time, express your interest in the job, and it doesn't hurt to put in your contact info. The thank you note is the deal maker between two equally qualified candidates.

The second interview.

This is where you will likely receive a tour of the company. This is you opportunity to observe the culture of the company, ask questions about specific duties you will be doing, what benefits are available, ask about the things that are important to you.

You are offered the job.

This is the time to negotiate. Your employer will respect you more if you do. You can ask to sleep on it overnight. Call early the next day and ask for a small amount of money more than you have been offered. Your potential employer is never going to offer you their top dollar on the first go-round. Have your number in mind, but never reveal it. Try to agree on any amount of money more than the first offer. The higher you start, the more money you will make in your lifetime.


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