Often times I am asked for interviewing advice by students getting ready to graduate or looking for internships. When I’m asked for advice, my goal is to provide a high-level framework from which students can determine their overall strategy. Here are three things I always tell my students. Consequently, it turns out interviewing is a lot like dating and it all begins with selection.
“Selecting whom to ask on a date” Deciding whether to submit a resume.
Make sure the company if of interest to you by checking out their website and doing a little initial research on it. After you have selected the companies that you wish you apply for and submit your resume/cover letter, they too will do their initial research on you. The company will review your qualifications to determine if you meet the requirements of the position. If they too are interested, you will be invited to interview with them (the first date). Once invited, perform follow-up research on the company because it will position you to ask probing questions that websites and brochures cannot answer. For example, when I interview, I almost always ask about the culture. I even use a very specific question – “when you walk in to the office every morning, do people say greet each other?“ Questions like that give me a better sense of the company culture. I know that I would not enjoy working for a company where people do not greet each other in the morning. I’ve worked for companies like that and know it from personal experience. If you take the time to get to know the company then you can ask better questions at the interview. Oh and by the way, this makes you look very interested in the company. Now who doesn’t like it when someone has shown interest in you?
“How to behave on your first date?” What to do on your first interview?
Always, always, always be yourself; I’ll tell you why this is the most important. At an interview, two things are happening. First, the company is interviewing you. Second, you are interviewing the company. The purpose of the interview is to learn whether there is a good fit for both parties. At this point the company has already established that you met the requisite qualifications and you have decided this is a company of interest to you. However, what is left to determine is whether you can enter into a serious relationship. If you act in ways not consistent with your personality in order to impress the company, you risk getting selected by a company that you will not fit into. The same goes for the company, if they misrepresent who they are to you. The potential consequence is that if you are selected to join the company then you both may realize neither is happy in the relationship thus increasing the potential for a bad break-up. No one wins. Be yourself and nothing more, nothing less. One caveat, this doesn’t mean wear sneakers, jeans, and a hoodie if that’s who you are; you would still dress appropriately to show respect as you would on a date.
“Sometimes, there just isn’t any chemistry.” Companies and candidates don’t always click.
Don’t take rejection personally. If the company did not select you, chances are high that they have done you a favor. What it means is that they do not believe you are a good fit. Remember, at this point you have already met the requisite qualifications – so there is no doubt that you have what it takes. All a rejection means is that despite meeting their requisite qualifications, you are not a good fit. This event has just saved you a lot of grief and wasted time. Thanks to the rejection, you still have the opportunity to enter into the “right” relationship. And never forget this can go the other way around. Maybe they extend you an offer and you felt the company was not a good fit for you and you decline them. Don’t sweat it if there isn’t mutual chemistry; like a bad date, simply move on because there are plenty of fish in the sea…or companies in the market.
Good luck with your interviews! If you have any questions about interviews, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or reply to this post. Thanks!