Mastering the interview by Madeleine Berg, MS,RDN,CDN
As I write this, I just received an invitation for a breakfast meeting with 2 very influential women in the Long Island human resources community. This meeting could be the breakthrough moment I have been working towards to promote worksite wellness on Long Island. I am excited. I am also terrified. After allowing myself a moment to celebrate this good fortune, it’s time to get to work.
When interviewing, preparation is everything. The more you know about the company and the people interviewing you, the better. Do your research. Find a connection or common ground. The person who gets the job is not necessarily the one with the best qualifications, but the one who is the best fit. I interviewed with Hanes Brand recently. The night before the interview I came across a shoelace, if you can believe it, from the first race I ever ran in 1986. The race was the Leggs Mini Marathon. As luck would have it, Hanes Brand owns Leggs. During my interview, I mentioned how inspiring Hanes Brand is to have sponsored a woman’s only race decades before they became commonplace. The woman interviewing me, literally said, “You had the job when you mentioned the Leggs Mini Marathon”. Find a connection!
Not every interview goes so smoothly. For one thing, you are interviewing the employer as much as the are interviewing you. I have blown more than 1 job opportunity because of my position on dietary supplements - I refuse to sell them. If a job requires me to endorse a product that I don’t actually endorse, well that job is not for me. On another ill fated interview for a wellness job, I didn’t see how I could commute 4 hours a day and still maintain my personal level of fitness. I knew this was not the job for me. Not every job you interview for will be the right fit.
Anticipate questions you are likely to be asked and have answers prepared. Many interviewers use the STAR technique. This stands for situation/task, action and results. What is a specific example of a conflict you had with a coworker ? How did you respond? What was the outcome? Practice your answers out loud. The questions I always struggle with are “What are your strengths?” and “What are your weaknesses?” When I answer these questions, I don’t even sound believable to myself! I know the key to a successful interview is to sound authentic, but when I’m asked “Why should I hire you?” my mind goes blank. The more you practice the easier it becomes.
Basic Interview tips: Dress professionally. Arrive on time.
Do your research. Come prepared with answers to questions that will likely be asked.
Have a question ready to ask the interviewer and it should NOT be about your benefits or your commute.
Present yourself as a person with confidence.
Always send a thank you note or email.
And finally the encouraging words of my friend Allison when I told her about my upcoming interview, “Don’t blow it!!”
About the Author
Lisa Samuels is a Long Island native who is currently a Dietetic Intern at LIU Post. She has a B.A. in Art History from Ithaca College, a B.S. in Nutrition from LIU Post & was also a practicing baker for two years. Lisa has finally found her calling. Combining her love for food, writing, and nutrition, she strives to bring you the latest news in the field.
Check out even more posts from Lisa at her website: