How To Nail Your Interview
Breakdown of slides
Research the job description AND the roles of people on the team you will be on. Yes, I am telling you to internet stalk them. Once you have this information, outline how you are qualified in each area. You may not need to talk about all of this during your interview, but its better to be prepared in case it’s asked of you.
DON’T BE MONOTONE! In my experience, when it comes to engineering and more technical job roles, candidate’s voices become mechanical when going into depth about the sequence of a job. Or it will sound like they are a robot who memorized an answer. Add life to your speech by changing the way you talk. If this is too difficult for you, then compensate with more facial expressions and hand gestures. This will help keep your listener engaged.
· Maintain eye contact with the interviewer. This not only shows you’re engaged, but you’re confident. If you keep looking away while speaking or listening, it can appear like you are not present, insecure, or even lying.
· Maintain good posture. Keep your chest area open. Don’t cross your arms. This will show that you are confident and open. It also subconsciously relaxes you and the listener.
· Sit up straight. This is aesthetically pleasing and allows better air flow. A lack of oxygen/circulation will hinder your ability to think and articulate yourself properly.
· Don’t fidget and move around constantly. It screams that you are nervous and uncomfortable. Uncomfortably is contagious and will soon transfer to your audience.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE: Mirror Behavior
There are a multitude of different personality types within a company. Pay attention and be aware of how the person you are speaking with ticks. This is not meant to be manipulative. You must be authentic. This is meant to help you communicate properly and make your interviewer feel at ease. Making someone comfortable and relaxed while speaking with you is very important. If someone is outgoing and you are being reserved/shy, there can be a disconnect. Mirroring someone can help bridge this gap. Below are the typical personality types:
· Dominant- decision makers, get to the point first and explain later, macro picture, action oriented, leaders, blunt, competitive, aggressive: OUTGOING (executives, management, sales, operations)
· Cautious: I like to call this one Analytical- detail oriented, show me the numbers, go into detail first with an explanation and end with the point, micro picture, logic based (driven by logic, not emotion) : RESERVED (tend to be engineers, accountants, tech officers, operations, analysts, finance)
· Influencers- social, charismatic, talkative, wants to know more of who you are then just what you do. They are motivating and optimistic, loud, emotional (driven by emotions/ what feels right more than logic): OUTGOING (tend to be managers, recruiters, sales, marketing, PR)
· Steadiness- the caregivers. They have the ability to sense what others feel, gives empathy and support: RESERVED (tend to be in HR, customer support, sales, community growth)
Now you may be asking, “Why is this important?” Well let me tell you! It’s important because tuning into someone’s personality will open your ability to properly communicate with them. Have you ever had an argument with someone where you are both saying the same thing but there is still a huge misunderstanding? This is because we all comprehend information differently. Having the ability to mirror someone will help them feel more comfortable and open to what you are saying. It also ensures better understanding and decrease misunderstandings.
Do your homework!
Research the position you are applying for AND the company. If you are applying to Apple,
research their culture, their company’s history, the C executives stories, their goals, problems they are facing, where they are thriving, and what benefits they provide for their employees. Do you know that the majority of companies provide tuition reimbursement if you want to further your education!? Talk about this in your interview as something that peaked your interest in them.
This will not only show you are thorough, but also give you ammo to ASK QUESTIONS. Asking questions about the company’s goals, priorities, 5 year plan, ect is a huge plus.
Wait until the end of the interview to talk about salary. Let them be completely wowed by you and then give them your price. If you do this too early, you can turn them off and make them more critical throughout the interview. You don’t want them assessing you the whole time if you’re worth it or not. Let them come to that conclusion on their own and then give them your terms.
Also do research on the position’s average salary/benefits. Don’t let them low ball you because you didn’t know any better; and trust me they will try. Which leads me to my second point, once you know the average salary, tell them a higher number. They, and HR, are going to try to negotiate you down so high balling it will help you get exactly what you want.
Challenge the Interviewer
Whenever I go into an interview, I personally see it as my first day of orientation. I act like I already have the job offer and now I am asking why I should choose them.
Talk to them about YOUR goals and expectations. Ask them questions of how their company and management leaders are going to accelerate you in your career. Ask them what systems they have in place for effective communication along with opportunities for career development. Ask about their flexibility. If you’re applying for a software engineering position, but you really want to incorporate finance to the mix, ask them what opportunities are available and if they allow you to move around departments.
· Ask if you can take on new projects!
· Tell them what you want to do with the company.
· Tell them your ideas of how you think they can thrive and improve in either culture or systems. If you really want to blow them away, add in solutions to those problems.
Essential Tips for interviews:
Follow up with the interviewer(s) right after you leave.
A big deciding factor after an interview is how the candidate follows up. I always advise sending a thank you message either day of or the next day. Here is an example of a past email I sent after an interview:
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to discuss with me the role in further detail; in addition to providing great insight into both the challenges and rewards in the position. I feel my business intelligence experience will transition well into the role to help empathize, evaluate needs, and ultimately be seen as a trusted adviser to help guide companies to the results they would like to see — all while hitting quota.
I appreciate your feedback on the mock presentation. You provided great insight on strategic questions and how to approach the decision maker. I feel that if I learned that much in a 5 min evaluation I can only think of what I can learn through your trainings and by picking your brain!
Additionally, I wanted to emphasize that although I do not have direct SaaS experience that I am incredibly coachable, humble, and ready to learn. I live by the motto “do everything in excellence” and that is what you can expect from me to bring to the team.
I look forward to hearing your decision and if you have any further questions I would be more than happy to provide additional information on my background.
Have a great day!
ASK FOR FEED BACK!
If you are denied the position, ask for feedback! Email the interviewer and ask for constructive criticism about the interview and suggestions for improvement. Even ask if they have time to jump on a call with you to discuss what went wrong/right in the interview. Don’t be offended by what they say, this will be the building blocks to nailing the next one!
Be honest and don’t assume
Don’t get stuck in your own head and sabotage yourself. Sometimes I get so nervous that I’m bombing it that I fulfill my own prophecy. Don’t assume the interview is going badly. If you have no idea how the interview is going, or if they appear completely disengaged/ disinterested, voice it. Ask them if they have and questions that you can address.
I cannot tell you how many times I have saved the interview by just being honest. People love and sympathize with transparency. It also makes you more human. If I am bombing it, I will simply pause, breathe, lean in, smile, and say
“Please excuse me, I am just really nervous right now. This position is exactly what I have been looking for. It is the perfect way to combine both my investment experience with my business operations background. I know I would be such an asset to this company due to my experience. Do you mind if I start over with my answer?” (this is also a great way to throw in research you found during the homework stage, tell them why you like the company so much!)
“Do you mind if I ask you how you think this interview is going? I want to make sure that I am understanding and answering your questions properly.”
Open the door to new opportunities
Don’t leave your interview empty handed. I have gone into interviews applying for one position and leave with a job offer for another. At the end of an interview, I ask the question below.
“Well now that you have spent some time with me and know my background in more detail, I would love your professional opinion. Due to my job experience, interests, temperament, background, and the goals I want to achieve for myself, what position would you say I am best suited for? Your advice on where I would thrive the most in would be incredibly helpful to mel.”
This question is a game changer because it gives you a lead to new opportunities. They will either say the position you are applying for is a good fit (which affirms your qualifications) OR they will suggest something else they think you are qualified for. Either way, it opens the door for recommendations and referrals.
You really are a winner
Once again fabulous Holbertons, just relax. You got this! Trust in the training you have been killing yourself over. You have learned from the best. There is no way you would be allowed to enter the interview stage if our mentors and teachers thought you were not ready.
An interview is all about making the person asking questions a complete believer in you. This video is an amazing resource on how to approach how you present yourself. A fabulous TedTalk about leadership and inspiring action.
Lastly, talk about your experience here. Tell them about the struggles, the failures, the breakthroughs, the all nighters, and all that you have learned in the process. Tell them how you were not only taught how to be a software engineer, but how to be 100% self-sufficient in every area because you learned how to learn and be resourceful. Tell them that even though you can figure it out on your own, you learned that team work is essential for success and individual growth. As cheesy as this may sound, sell them on who you are, not just what you can do. Good luck everyone!
P.S. If you ever want to practice your interview, come grab me. I would love to do a mock interview, listen, and give you my feedback.