I am in proud, sequined possession of two Lady Gaga concert tickets for her performance in San Jose this coming January 17. That being said, I am doing all things Gaga: wearing her T-shirts, streaming her music on Pandora, following her on Facebook. As I immerse myself in this diva’s world, it dawned on me that I could learn a thing or two about interviews from her since she is one of the most sought after interviewees in the world.
Keep in mind, I interview candidates for my clients every day. As I compare their sometimes good, sometimes obnoxious, sometimes relevant, sometimes rambling answers to Gaga’s, I’ve observed that this music and fashion icon knows a thing or two about preparation and fielding questions. These are the top nine things I learned from Lady Gaga about giving a good interview.
- Research the company and interviewers in advance. Hopefully, you’re interviewing for a job that you want to do with a company you want to work for. But how will you know if you don’t look into both? Read up on the company itself by browsing its website, news releases, and what’s being said in the market about its products and its competitors. Use LinkedIn to get some background info on the people you’ll be meeting with to find out what you have in common so you can draw upon that in conversation. A world-famous singer doesn’t happen to give a good performance. She knows her craft, studies it, practices, and delivers!
- Be on time. In Gaga’s case this means gracing the cover of a specific magazine. In yours, it means arriving for your appointment five to ten minutes prior to your interview. Give yourself that extra time to sign in, take a deep breath, and get comfortable in your surroundings.
- Turn off your mobile phone. Ringers, dings, vibrations, texts, tweets, and flashing displays are all distracting. Don’t do yourself the disservice of getting off-track. Instead, leave your cellie in the car or turn it completely off. In a hit song Gaga says “Stop calling! Stop calling! I don’t want to talk any more!” Tell your friends and family you will be offline while you’re interviewing.
- Be yourself, but behave according to your audience. For a conversation with Barbara Walters, Gaga wore a classic Chanel suit. When she performed at the MTV movie awards, she donned a black onesy and spurted fake blood on herself. Represent who you are, but keep it professional for this setting.
- Give examples. Hiring managers are not looking for “yes” and “no” answers. Expand on your initial direct “yes” or “no” with an example, anecdote, or description. If you make the interviewer carry the entire conversation and force you to explain terse answers one by one they’ll become bored, frustrated, and find you less than personable. But…. Do not ramble! While it is ok for a loved celebrity to talk freely about her hometown, fashion preferences or causes, you need to keep your explanations tied to the question at hand and work-related. You’re there to earn a job, not a date. If you need more on this topic, see Vivo’s April 25 blog posting by Marilyn Weinstein.
- Do not lie. Even though my girl says “I hate the truth so much that I’d rather have a giant dose of bulls**t anyday,” interviewers want the truth about your skill set and career history. And with everyone connected and everything online these days, they’ll find it whether you tell them or not.
- Do ask questions. Ten out of ten times an interviewer will ask if you have any questions for them. Of course you do! You prepared them in advance of the interview while you were researching the company (see item 1). They should be on the tip of your tongue, relevant, and show that you do care about your career and where you spend your professional energies. There’s no way a rockstar is going to play a concert at the dog park across the street from my house. She’s going to book the HP Pavilion…. On January 17 (YAY!). So show your audience the gig and the venue matter to you.
- Be confident. According to the woman herself, “When I wake up in the morning, I feel like any other insecure 24-year-old girl. Then I say, ‘Bitch, you’re Lady Gaga, you get up and walk the walk today.”
- Send a thank you note or email. You’ve likely taken a good hour of your interviewer’s time, and if he/she is looking to hire it means too much work exists there already and not enough time during the day to do it. So show that you appreciate his/her sharing part of the workday with you. Even better, include a reference to something that was discussed during the interview to indicate you were paying attention and that you remain interested in pursuing the opportunity. Lady Gaga constantly tell her fans how much she loves her millions of “Little Monsters.” Surely you can take a few minutes to appreciate a few Hiring Managers.
There you have it. Your career is not going to happen to you. You must design it with thought and decision and take the job search seriously, every high-heeled dance step of the way.