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3 Dos and Don’ts: Ace a Job Interview

I’ve interviewed a lot of candidates for positions at ESPN, and I’ve been interviewed as a candidate and as the owner of Gunner Technology for many positions around the world.

I have been turned down for exactly one job that I interviewed for.

That’s not to say my resume hasn’t been tossed in the trash or that every offer worked out, but, once I get to the human phase of the process, I’m pretty much money.

Here are six tips to help you on your next interview.

Don’t Interview for a Job You’re Not Interested in

Look, I know part of the interview process is for the interviewee to ask questions and learn about the position. That’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is doing interviews for the sake of doing interviews.

For example, don’t agree to an interview for a Social Media Strategist position if you hate social media. Sometimes, if a person is headhunted or recommended for a position, he or she feels obligated to interview for the position. It’s better to turn it down, which leads me to my next point.

Do: Be Passionate

You can’t be passionate about a position you’re not interested in. You may ask what’s the harm in not showing passion for a position you’re not interested in anyway, but candidates get talked about. Especially for positions within the same company.

For example, if you interview for position x and position y with company z and you really want position y and are interviewing for position x out of obligation, the hiring manager for position y will hear from the hiring manager for position x about how listless you are.

Job gone.

Also, there is a common idiom in the hiring world: “Hire passion. Teach talent.”

I very much subscribe to this. If you hire a very talented person who lacks passion, you are going to have to motivate them extrinsically every day and that person’s skills probably will stagnate.

But, if you hire a person who is very passionate but not quite up to the level of talent you’re looking for, that person will be intrinsically motivated, not only to do the job, but become better at the job.

Do: Be Honest

Don’t lie. Don’t even exaggerate. Just don’t do this. In the era we’re in, a company can very easily check on your claims.

This is an automatic disqualifier if you get caught. But at the same time…

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

While you don’t want to exaggerate, you also don’t want to sell yourself short. If you have relevant experience, bring it up, not matter how distantly connected it may be.

For example, if you’re interviewing to be a web developer and you have no experience working as a web developer for another company, but you’ve sold T-Shirts at The Gap, tell you’re interviewer you have great ideas selling to other people. Tell the interviewer that you will better people to sell your ideas for a project better than any other web developer.

Don’t be Negative

If you’re leaving another job for the position you’re interviewing for, you’ll get this question: “Why do you want to leave your job at x?”

Maybe the answer is easy. Maybe you’re graduating, and you’re just moving on. Maybe you hate your current job more than a dentist visit, but never say that. Again, don’t lie, but don’t be negative. This goes back to the rule of not interviewing for a position you’re not interested in. As long as you don’t do that, you can focus on the positives of the potential position.

When I interviewed with Fox Sports, they asked my why I wanted to leave ESPN. I didn’t want to leave ESPN. I loved ESPN. ESPN was great. However, a friend of mine said I should check out the position at Fox so, I did. Plus, you should always have options.

Do Sell What You’ve Learned

Failures happen. Successes happen. Some you can control, and others, you can’t.

For example, three years ago, I built a product for ESPN called MyESPN, which was a startpage similar to iGoogle. Two years later, it was shut down. Failure? Maybe. Success? Maybe.

What matters more in an interview is what you can sell from the experience, and I learned a ton about programming with Javascript, so I sell what I learned. What worked. What didn’t. How I got around x. Where I learned how to do y.

At the end of the day, if you’re halfway qualified, you’re going to have successes and failures in a position. But the more you learn, the less likely you are to repeat your failures and the more likely you are to repeat your successes.

So there are three dos and three don’ts for interviewing. Do you agree with the list? What are some things you’ve picked up from interviewing?

Author

Cody is a Product Manager and Social Media Specialist at ESPN. He manages, conceptualizes and develops many of the social aspects of ESPN.com. He also is Founder and CEO for Gunner Technology, Inc an end-to-end Web strategy company, providing solutions for businesses. Previously, Cody worked as a developer for ESPN.com, building many of the live scoreboards and GameCast applications. In a previous life, he covered Florida Gator sports as a beat reporter, talk show host and television producer. Cody earned an MBA, Masters Degree in Communication and Bachelors Degree in Journalism from the University of Florida. He currently lives in Los Angeles. To find out more, read his blog, follow him on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

Related posts:

  1. Ask Questions During a Job Interview
  2. Are You Prepared for These Interview Questions?
  3. 3 Interview Questions to Know How to Answer

2 Responses to “3 Dos and Don’ts: Ace a Job Interview”

  1. avatar AvaDee says:

    I am about to head in for an interview in about 3 hours and this post caught my eye. I hope you’re right. Thanks for the last minute advice.

  2. avatar Facebook User says:

    Awesome! Let me know how it goes.

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