When it comes to job-hunting, great experience and a solid résumé will get your foot in the door, but how do you really land that self-storage position you want? You have to ace the interview!
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way companies interview for open positions. There are fewer in-person meetings and many more phone and video interactions. But regardless of the format, it won’t go well if you’re unrehearsed. Alexander Graham Bell summed it up when he said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”
Below is my advice for what to do before, during and after the interview. Follow these tips, and you’ll make a positive, lasting impression on any self-storage employer.
There are many things you can do in advance to ensure the interview goes smoothly. They should help you feel more confident and relaxed.
- Confirm the date, time and location. If the meeting is in person, estimate your travel time and leave early. Don’t be late!
- Research the company and the people you’ll be meeting. Confirm names and titles. Look at the website and research the self-storage property, portfolio or project.
- Review the job description.
- Update your résumé. For in-person interviews, bring several copies.
- Prepare materials to share with the interviewer(s) such as recommendation letters, work samples, details of past accomplishments or projects you completed, and information about properties you managed.
- Bring a list of three to four professional references the company can contact. Past supervisors are ideal, however, current or past co-workers, subordinates or vendors with whom you’ve worked are also appropriate.
- Prepare a list of questions. This is key. Make a list of three or four items you’d like to discuss with the interviewer. Ask open-ended questions about growth potential, company culture and the skills needed to be successful within the organization.
- Dress professionally, not like you’re going on a date or to a night club.
- For in-person meetings, avoid wearing heavy cologne or perfume. Make sure you don’t smell like cigarettes!
- Don’t attend the interview if you’re sick, even if it’s by phone or video. Most companies will understand if you need to reschedule, and you want to be at your best.
During the Interview
Now that you’re ready to attend the interview, here’s how to knock it out of the park:
- Turn off your cell phone.
- I would normally advise you to have a firm handshake, but in this era, you may want to practice your fist or elbow bump instead! In all seriousness, follow the interviewer’s lead as it relates to social distancing and any contact.
- Maintain good eye contact.
- Don’t smoke!
- Be a good listener and take notes. Provide clear answers with detail, but don’t ramble or talk too much. Your conversation should be a nice, even exchange of information.
- Don’t lie, or embellish your experience.
- Don’t speak negatively about past employers, co-workers, etc.
- As you wrap up, thank the interviewers for their time.
- If you decide you want the position, convey a strong level of interest, and ask what the next steps will be.
Once the interview is complete, send a follow up email to again thank the interviewers for their time and the information they shared. Reconfirm your interest in the job and your excitement about the possibility of joining the team.
Additional Tips for Video
Many employers are conducting interviews via teleconferencing platforms. For some people, this can be even more nerve-wracking than meeting in person. Being on camera may feel a bit awkward, but again, preparation will help. Here’s some advice to help you perform well in this setting:
- Test your camera to ensure it’s working and at eye level.
- Fully charge the device you’ll be using.
- Ensure your software is current.
- Set up in a quiet space that’ll be free from distractions.
- Avoid interruptions from family members and pets.
- Ensure there’s no clutter or inappropriate material behind you. A plain wall or neutral background is best.
- Look at the camera, and maintain good eye contact and posture.
- Don’t sit too close or too far from the camera.
- If you wear glasses, check for glare.
- Smile and relax!
Often, companies will conduct more than one round of interviews. If you’re fortunate enough to be invited back for another talk, prepare as you did for the first. You’ll likely be meeting different people, perhaps more senior executives or potential team members. While it may be a second or third interview for you, you’ll likely have to make a good first impression with a new person or group.
Interviewing well has a lot to do with common sense, good judgement and overall professionalism. Try not to be nervous. Demonstrate confidence in yourself and your ability to do the job. Preparing for the meeting and knowing what to expect should help ease any anxiety you have. Following some of these basic steps combined with the right experience will help you stand out as a top candidate.
Lisa Pyle is a partner at Real8 Group LLC, a national executive search firm within the real estate industry. She’s successfully placed mid- and senior-level self-storage professionals with regional and national developers and operators for more than 15 years. To reach her, call 865.224.8900, ext. 103; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.real8group.com.