Kellie Groover

7 Best Practices of Applying and Interviewing

Hey there, I’m Kellie, HR Director over at Focus Lab. I’m not one of the usual writers-on-deck for Sidecar, but I have some knowledge I’d love to share with you guys regarding applying and interviewing, and I truly hope that you find it helpful in your journey to a career in design, development, or just about anything.

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At Focus Lab, we are methodical and intentional about the hiring process, because Focus Lab is a family and we want to grow that family carefully. We are thankful to always have a great group of talented individuals respond when we post job opportunities.

When you’re up against many great candidates, we thought it would be nice to share some ways you can stand out when trying to join a new company. So, here’s the best way, in my opinion, to set yourself up for success in getting a job at Focus Lab...or really, anywhere. If you’re applying for a job with us and you’ve found this post… you’re already ahead of the game. So bonus points to you.

  1. Before you apply: do your research. Go to the company’s website, understand their services, read the blog, learn about their team, values, culture. Do they have social media accounts? Go check them out. Look for online reviews on sites like Glassdoor. You want to make sure this company is a fit for you, and now, by doing your homework, you’ve prepared yourself for a future interview. By familiarizing yourself with the company, you show you’re really interested in becoming a part of the team and can speak to why you would make a great fit.

  2. Read. The. Entire. Job. Posting. You need to fully understand the job you’d be taking on. Also, *hint* there may be some extra directions on how to apply that you may miss by just scanning it. This should be a given, but you’d be surprised how many people apply without paying attention to the entire position posting. Our last couple of positions have included a random word that you had to work into your application, and if you didn’t include it, you were immediately disqualified. So, read the whole post and follow directions!

  3. Applying. This should be easy since you’ve now done your homework. You’ve read the job posting word for word, so you won’t miss any application requirements, and you’ve gotten really familiar with the company by doing your research. In your cover letter, when you’re explaining why we should hire you for your skills, further explain why you want to work with this company. More than anything, tailor your letter to every company you apply to. It’s so easy in this day and age to copy/paste a generic form cover letter, but it’s really obvious to the hiring manager who’s reading it. It’s your first form of contact with the employer, and you definitely want to put your best foot forward, right? Make a good impression. Personalize the letter to the company you’re applying for. Why would you enjoy working there? Do you appreciate their culture? Is it a fit for you? Why should they hire you? Oh, and tailor your resume to your relevant experience. Have a ton of experience? The longer your resume, the quicker you lose your reader. Do your best to keep it to a page or two at the longest.

  4. Hey! Look at that, you’ve applied, and you’ve been contacted for an interview! Be stoked...and let your enthusiasm show! People want to hire someone who’s pumped about the opportunity to join the team.

  5. Interview day(s). Whether by phone, video call, or in person, be early, and dress the part. And at the end of the day, if you’re unsure about how to dress, just make sure you dress comfortably in a way that makes you feel confident. If you feel that you look good, you will feel more confident, and that confidence will shine through in your interview. Answer questions honestly and show them you’re humble, you’re hungry for the position and for the opportunity to join the team, and that you’ve got people smarts. It’s really the recipe for a great employee, and we follow it when hiring. For more on that see: The Ideal Team Player.

  6. Post-interview. Always make sure to send a thank you note/email. It really goes a long way. Especially if it comes down to you and one other person, it could give you the extra edge you need to move on.

  7. Didn’t make it further? That’s a bummer. But hey, you just may not be the right fit for this position, but would be great for another. Or the timing isn’t right. Always be gracious in your response to a rejection. You never know if something falls through with another candidate, or if you’re being put into a talent pool and they plan to reach out to you for a future position. Sending a negative response or being rude guarantees you will not work with this company in the future, and at the end of the day, if you’re salty like that, you weren’t a fit for the company to begin with. I can’t stress this enough: don’t burn bridges.

You live and you learn. We all make mistakes. I’ve personally not always been the best interviewee and I haven’t left every job graciously (another post for another time), but I’ve learned from those experiences and have become better for it. Hopefully I can pass on what I’ve learned so you can avoid these pitfalls, and put your best foot forward.


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