By Sophia Schneidman
You went to a career fair and landed a meeting with your dream company. Now, what's next? Whether interviewing for Apple, Microsoft, AT&T, or Google, every interview follows a similar formula. Interviews are nerve-wracking, no matter what. However, with practice and clear expectations, the process can go a lot more smoothly. If you want to learn my top tips on acing the interview process, then read ahead.
Preparation is Key
Whether going in for an informational meeting or a third interview with your dream company, make sure to do your homework. One way to prepare is to come up with potential interview questions. Before each interview, I always look over my resume for 30 minutes. For each bullet point on my resume, I think of an example that demonstrates growth. NPR host Terry Gross says that "It helps to organize your thoughts beforehand by thinking about the things you expect you'll be asked and then reflecting on how you might answer" (Kerr, 2018).
Treat Every Interview as Practice
It is imperative to go into every interview with the intention to land a job. If you end up receiving an offer, you can always turn it down later. You never know what connections will come in handy later in life. Even if you are positive that you will never see the interviewer again, every meeting is an opportunity to gain confidence and practice your interviewing skills. According to The Job Network, "The more you get used to putting on your most professional clothes, signing in at an unfamiliar front desk, and sitting in front of strangers while they ask you about your professional expertise, the better you will get at the entire process" (Hoon, 2017). Don't tell a company that you have always dreamed of working for them if you haven't. But also, don't be lazy and go into an interview unprepared.
A common piece of advice given before an interview is; "This is the time to brag about yourself." However, it is crucial to make the distinction between confidence and cockiness. No one wants to hire someone who sees no room for improvement. Harvard Business School professors Ovul Sezer, Francesca Gino, and Michael Norton all agree that humblebragging is a bad idea ( Lebowitz, 2019). Humblegragging includes phrases such as perfectionist, too honest, and working too hard ( Lebowitz, 2019). Admit you struggle with organization or have a hard time getting out the door on time. But then discuss actionable steps you have taken to prevent your weaknesses from becoming a problem in your work life.
Flaunt a Growth Mindset
Growth is the number one thing hiring teams are looking for. When applying for colleges, universities wanted to see your grades continually improving. In the job world, the same applies. Traci Wilk, a former Starbucks HR exec, always asks the person she is interviewing; " tell me about the most challenging work experience that you had and what you learned from it" (Lebowitz, 2019). According to Wilk, openly discussing past challenges is a good sign that demonstrates self-awareness (Lebowitz, 2019). If your interview doesn't go as planned, you can weave the topic of growth back into the question portion at the end of the conversation. A good question to ask that demonstrates growth is; "Thinking back to people you've seen do this work previously, what differentiated the ones who were good from the ones who were really great at it?" (Green, 2018).
Honesty is Almost Always the Best Policy
So what happens if the interviewer stumps you. Picture this; you are in the most important meeting of your life. You are interviewing for a tech company, and get asked, "How do you think the Stock Market will positively affect our profits going into this next quarter?" You have no idea how to respond. What do you do? The general rule of thumb I use is; Use more and more honestly, the most specific the question becomes. If a company is looking for a numbers-based response with only one answer, then its time to fess up and admit defeat. Overall, it's better to admit defeat before you are called out. But remember, don't be afraid to take time to collect your thoughts before opening your mouth.
The Grand Finale
You did the hard work. You completed your interview, and you are waiting for a response. Some people may think their job is done. But if anything, this is the most critical time to prove yourself. It is essential to write a thank you note to whoever you spoke to. A thank you note shows respect and reminds the interviewer who you are. Even though its a thank you note, an email does the job perfectly fine. According to an Accountemps survey of several human resources (HR) managers, "94% of HR managers say it's appropriate to send a thank-you note via email"(Monster). In your email, start with addressing the interviewer by name. Next, you can describe the conversation, and show enthusiasm for the job opportunity. A great way to end your thank you note is by showing concrete steps you took after the interview. For example, if you were discussing how to create a more inclusive work environment in your discussion, share research on the most effective ways to create inclusion. If I were on the hiring team, I would be extremely impressed with your initiative, and more likely to hire you.
Above all, take a deep breathe and remember that everything usually works out how it is meant to. Good luck on those interviews!
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Green, Alison. "10 Impressive Questions to Ask in a Job Interview." The Cut, The Cut, 6 Nov.
Hoon, Michael. "Why You Should Interview for a Job You Don't Want." TheJobNetwork, 9 Nov.
Kerr, Jolie. "How to Talk to People, According to Terry Gross." The New York Times, The New
York Times, 17 Nov. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/11/17/style/self-care/terry-gross-conversation-advice.html
Lebowitz, Shana. "10 Expert Tips for Wowing a Hiring Manager to Land the Job of Your
Dreams." Business Insider, Business Insider, 27 Mar. 2019, www.businessinsider.com/job-interview-tips-impress-hiring-manager-2019-3?r=US&IR=T#the-muse-founders-alexandra-cavoulacos-and-kathryn-minshew-put-some-effort-into-your-thank-you-note-9
"Should You Send a Thank-You Note after Your Interview?" Monster Career Advice,