The job search in general can be terrifying! When you get that email to set up your first screening interview it can be an adrenaline run of excitement and nerves. To prep you on the 3-5 interview stages for your first internship or full time role follow these tips to help let the fear go.
Know Your Intention
Know your intention behind doing an interview. Are you actively looking for a role? Are you just interested in interviewing at an org? Do you have any intention on leaving a current role?
You should be taking advantages to interview anytime it presents itself. You’ll learn more about yourself and the type of workplace you want to add your talents to. Consistently interviewing also allows you to keep that skill set fine tuned. Interviewing can also be that helpful reminder that you are amazing and you’ve worked your ass off to get you to where you are. Recounting that journey in interviews helps to refocus you on your strengths and accomplishments.
While you should interview consistently, remember to be respectful of others in the process. The recruiter who is taking time to chat with you and the space you could be taking from another person. A good rule to follow is take the initial screening call and use that time to see if the role, team, or company are something that gets you excited. If you make it through to the next round and are interested, keep on going through the process. If you know it’s not the opportunity for you, then kindly bow out of the process to save everyone time and provide that opportunity to others.
Write a quick note to your recruiter after the phone screen thanking them for their time and if you are interested in continuing through the process, reaffirm your interest and let them know one thing that really excited you about the role. If you know you don’t want the role and are no longer interested, send them a message letting them know you appreciate their time, but you will need to withdraw your application. You don’t have to give a reason, but if you do, keep it professional, honest, and helpful. You can share that life-work balance, growth potential, or corporate social policies have steered you away from a company. This practice is how as outsiders from a company, we can help influence positive change by corporations.
Research the Company
This is by far one of the biggest red flags if you are unprepared to speak about an org during an interview. If you haven’t done research on the organization, then that gives the impression you don’t care. Researching a company is something you should care deeply about. As any job seeker knows, the jobs search process sucks. Imagine finally landing a role and you start your new position only to find out management doesn’t listen and there is no life-work balance. If you do research beforehand you can save yourself a lot of time and heartache. Checking resources like Fishbowl, Glassdoor, and Reddit are great ways to understand what it’s really like to work at a company. You can also check out the social media of the company, keyword search the company name and “lawsuits” or “discrimination”, or check their standings on lists like Diversity Inc, Corporate Equality Index, or DisabilityIN to learn about their stance and progress with diversity, equity and inclusion. Knowledge is power and with your insight from research you can decide if you even want to even apply at a company. If you do apply, then you’ll have different and impactful questions to ask your interviewer based on your in-depth research.
Practice Your “Tell Me About Yourself”
Hello! Welcome! We are so glad you’ve decided to interview with us. To start us off, tell me about yourself.
The dreaded first question, “Tell me about yourself.” This is by far the most anxiety inducing question people ask for help with. Best place to start is with a timeline of yourself. Think about what is that pivotal moment that got you to that interview spot. For example, I highlight I’m from a small Virginia mountain town (shout out to Pocahontas, VA). It’s unique and gives more insight to me as a person and where I credit my grit and determination. I then jump to the two degrees I’ve earned and work my way through major skill sets I have acquired through the years of experience. All in 1 minute or less.
Why? Because this is the start of the interview, so give them a birds-eye view about your experiences and then let the interviewer deep dive into parts you highlight through further questions.
Choose those main pieces you want the interviewer to know. Write it out and practice. Practice it with friends and family. Don’t commit it to memory, but know it well enough to hit the big stuff. You don’t want to sound rehearsed or robotic. An impactful answer to this question can help kick off the interview with energy and flow.
What's your “Why”?
“Why are you interested in your profession?”
This question can catch you off guard if you haven’t thought about why you’re interested in your profession or the role you’re interested in. Often we apply for roles that just peak our interests or something that connects to our strengths. But there’s usually more than just “it was a role posted, so I applied.” Think about the role and reflect on these questions:
What skill sets are you most excited to use that you currently possess?
What skills are you looking forward to using more?
How do you feel when you do your job?
Do you enjoy the challenger? The ease? The numbers? The problem solving?
The answers to these questions can help you formulate your “why”.
You can also check out O*Net and research professions to get detailed duties, skills, and qualifications. This can help you gain more information in crafting your “why”.
Come As You Are
The interview is just as much about you finding the right fit as it is for the company. You want to reflect on your values, skill sets, your ways of working, what’s important in an employer and what goals you have (personal and/or professional). Use these as your guide in finding the questions to guide your interview. You’ll be able to learn more about the employer and how they align with you as a person. For example, maybe you’re interested in a greener company. A question you might ask them during the end of the interview, “I saw on your website that the company is going green through a new recycling program. How was that program chosen and what do future green projects look like?” Maybe a diverse and equitable company is important to you. You could ask,
“A diverse team is important to me for innovation and growth as a professional. I noticed your DEI stats and saw your workforce is 78% white, 60% male, and 80% between the ages of 25-35. Are there any programs currently focused on diversifying these numbers?”
Asking questions about an employer’s DEI, Glassdoor reviews, or accountability may result in you not being moved forward in the process or it could impress the recruiter that you did your homework and are invested in making the company better. It’s really a roll of the dice and is a personal decision. Again finding that right fit is a personal journey and everyone approaches their work and their needs at work differently. Ask yourself the importance of the answer to the questions you ask. This can help you decide on the best path for you.
So concludes the Tale of the Intense Interview. Remember you are a person, not a robot and deserve the care and environment you need to thrive at work. If you’re not getting that, then brush up on those interview skills and freshen up that resume. Avoid common resume monsters and sign up for more articles.
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