I see a lot of posts that tell me "what to say" and "what not to say" in interviews. What bothers me about these posts is that they are often written to appease a deeply flawed and quite broken hiring and interviewing process that champions people who are good in telling others what they want to hear.
In this spirit, let's focus on things you can focus on that are meaningful for you and ensure that you are landing with the right company.
1. It's Not About Them
Why do we still feel that we need to treat an interview as if the company is holding all of the cards? An interview is as much about you and what you want, as it is about the company. This means that YOU should interview who THEY are and ask questions that clarify what the company and their culture is like, how they treat people and what makes them ideal for you! Ask questions about their team. If you are replacing someone, ask why they left and pay attention to what a person is saying between the lines! Ask what the average tenure of people on the team is and do your research about the company. Pay close attention to whom is interviewing you. If the vast majority of your interviewers are white males, that may be a red flag.
2. Be Weary of Dated Patterns
Nothing is more flawed than interviews that ask stupid questions like where you see yourself in 5 years. If you are in an interview and all the questions are literally "straight out of the book," you may want to reconsider. I always look for people and companies that break the mold and are real. I don't want to work with robots who cannot think outside of the box and ask me stupid questions that tell them nothing about me and show that they are simply just going through the motions.
3. Bring Your Whole Self
Interviewing is a bit like dating. You wouldn't want to date anyone who can't accept you for who you are, is unable to see you and can't recognize your strengths. So don't hide aspects of yourself. Be yourself - all the way. Don't censor if you are super passionate, for example. I share what I care about and what my intrinsic motivators are. I wouldn't want to work for a company that doesn't care about that.
4. Be Honest
If they ask a question you don't know the answer to, tell them. Don't answer any question with what you think they may want to hear. Most people can tell when someone is dishonest. They may not register it consciously, but they almost always do at least subconsciously. When you are dishonest, chances are, they will pick up on it. I believe that honesty and integrity matter above all and would never hire a person who is dishonest in their interview.
5. Follow Your Gut - Don't Settle
Sometimes we get desperate and when we are desperate we tend to overlook red flags and warning signs that would have otherwise deterred us from a situation. But if you are in an interview and something doesn't sound right or feel right, listen to it. If they are trying to tell you that your salary is too high or that they can't give you the title you want, don't take the job. If this is their best foot forward, imagine what it will be like once you are there.
A friend once gave me a good piece of advise. She told me to never go backward when starting in a new role or with a new company, something I've done unfortunately numerous times. She told me that companies and recruiters will see that I've settled in the past and would therefore try to make me settle again. Don't do it! A company and people who recognize your value and fit won't blink an eye in paying you what you are worth and giving you the proper title.
Looking for a new job is stressful. Especially when you are unhappy or feel defeated in your current place/role, remember that you have worth and deserve to find the place that will recognize and reward you for who you are. Don't work with or for anyone who weaponizes your strengths and hold them against you. Life is literally too short!