During an interview, you will likely be asked why you are interested in _____ field, why you are interested in pursuing ____ career, why you’re interested in working for _____ organization. There is a positive correlation between the quality of your responses and the interviewer’s interest in you – the more sincere, detailed, and thoughtful your responses, the more interesting you will be to the interviewer.
So, how interested are you in your field?
- Are you staying current with trends, technologies, and news that impact your field?
- Are you reading relevant journals and trade magazines?
- Are you networking with professionals either via professional associations, online communities, or both?
- Are you actively contributing to the field, even in basic ways, like participating in conferences, writing blog posts, commenting on articles, attending lectures, taking classes, volunteering?
- Are you looking for ways to advance the field by pursuing new or innovative approaches to current practices?
How interested are you in your career?
- Are you keeping your occupation-specific skills current?
- Have you identified role models or mentors whom you might shadow or, at the very least, emulate?
- Are you working to enhance your skills either in formal settings (i.e. taking classes) or informal ones (i.e. volunteering)?
- Are you developing a network of professional colleagues both locally and nationally (or even internationally)?
How interested are you in working for this organization?
- Have you read the organization’s mission statement?
- Have you become intimately familiar with the products/services provided by the organization?
- Have you read at least 3 articles about the organization written by a third party?
- Are you conducting informational interviews with employees or supervisors at the organization?
- If the organization is in a different geographic location, have you researched the city where the organization is located?
- Are you aware of the organization’s impact on its local and professional communities?
If you think that accomplishing even a few of the above tasks seems cumbersome, think for a moment about subjects in which you really are interested. I, for example, love cosmetics! I’ll be perfectly honest – I can spend hours watching YouTube tutorials on different techniques for applying eyeshadow. I practice putting on makeup, even when I don’t have to go out. I subscribe to a magazine dedicated to cosmetics. I read makeup blogs and have my feed reader automatically update me whenever new articles are posted. I participate in online makeup forums, read reviews of different products, and am familiar with a wide variety of cosmetic brands. I join groups associated with cosmetics on social networking sites, and talk about makeup with my friends. Why?? Because I’m interested in makeup, and yet, cosmetics isn’t my field. I won’t even begin to list all the things I do related to career development. My point is that when you are truly interested in a subject, you pursue activities related to that subject. You find ways to connect with others who are equally interested in the subject, and they seek you out because they find you interesting. Likewise, if you are truly interested in your field, your career or a particular organization, there should be evidence of that interest. If there isn’t any evidence, you’ll leave interviewers wondering, “Why are you pursuing this?” Frankly, you should be asking yourself the same question.
(A revised version of this article appears on the LUCareerCenter to Go site.)