After anxiously waiting a few weeks to hear back from recruiters and the Human Resources (HR) department, you have officially received a number of first round interviews! Congratulations; you now have that first foot into the door and are that must closer to securing your full-time job. In our second Land it and Love it post (read part 1, "Landing the Interview", here), we will be sharing our best tips, tricks and fyi's on how to be a successful interviewee and ultimately receive that final, coveted offer.
Before we go into the nitty gritty details, it is important that you have a clear idea of what you can expect if this is your very first interview of your career thus far.
Since we are focusing mainly on college recruiting, the first round of interviews will most likely take place at your career services center on your college campus. This will probably be the most "relaxed" interview in the process, where you will either have one or two 30 minute interviews. Every company's interviewing schedule is different though, so you may find yourself doing a variety of different things, from case studies to group interviews. Some companies will also host a dinner the night before the interview, where you will have the opportunity to network with other candidates as well as your interviewers. In other cases, firms will also have "greeters" the day of who are mostly likely going to be recent newly employed graduates. These greeters are used to help ease you into the interview and we recommend taking the time to talk to them since they are great resources to learn more about the company and the positions you are applying for.
The next round of interviews is something known in the corporate world as "Super Day" where you will generally be going into the office and having anywhere from three to five back to back interviews with employees in all different position (AVP, VP, Director, Managing Director, etc). Super day ranges significantly between firms, so some may have more relaxed second round interviews.
The Phone Interview
Depending on the type of company you interview for, a phone interview is often part of the screening process. In our opinion, this type of interview is actually one of the most difficult, because you cannot express yourself through your body language and can only do it through your tone of voice.
Find a quiet spot away from any possible distraction like roommates or pets who may make unexpected noises.
Dress the part. A huge perk to a phone interview is that no one will see what you're wearing, so you could technically wear your pjs or nothing if you really wanted to. However, if you dress as if you were actually going to an in-person interview at the office, you will feel 10 times more confident. This will ultimately affect your performance
Do your research beforehand. You can have a laptop or computer in front of you during your interview for comfort, but that doesn't mean you should be Googling questions to ask, or doing your major research of the company while on the phone. You should be as prepared as if you had no technological aid.
Have a positive attitude. Your attitude can easily be perceived through the tone of your voice, and you want to make sure you are engaged and fully present in the conversation. Be professional, but try to keep natural as well.
The Skype Interview Occasionally, you may have to set up this type of interview with HR if you cannot physically make it into the office or studying abroad. Skype or video conference interviews are "easier" in the sense that you can communicate with you body language to a greater extent and have a fully engaging conversation.
Make sure your internet is strong. There's nothing more frustrating than being cut-off mid sentence due to Wi-Fi failure. It's one thing if it's a casual conversation with a friend, but another story if this is for a job that you're aiming to land. Sometimes, you really can't control this, but try your best to test it out with a friend before your actual interview
Try having a mock interview with a friend over Skype for practice. If you think about it, the whole concept of video calling for an interview is very unnatural and a bit intimidating. If you can loosen up those nerves by trying it out with a friend before, you can help yourself get over any awkwardness you may experience
Practice, Practice, Practice: There are going to be moments in your career where you are stressed, pressed for time and end up going into presentations or meetings where you just "wing" it. Trust us, this is NOT the time for "winging" it.
- Create an interview template: Questions like "Tell me about yourself", "Tell me a time you had to work with a difficult team member", or "What are your strengths/weaknesses" are a few of the most popular interview questions, so jot down a number of what you think may be potential questions (or ask your friend, Google) and write down your answers in a word document. This way, when the question eventually pops up (and it will...trust us), you can use those opportunities to showcase your experiences and why you are the best candidate for the role. Having a general idea of what you will say to these typical questions will ease those nerves.
- Mock Interview: Not only is what you say important, but also how you say it. You want your delivery to be clear and concise and the best way to nail down the perfect delivery is practicing out loud. Ask a friend to sit down with you and go over some of your prepared interview answers. This way, not only will you have an opportunity to shape and perfect your answers, but you will also get some feedback from the listener.
Pro tip: If you can't have a friend mock interview you, you can also record yourself on your phone and play it back. This allows you to hear yourself after, just be sure to be honest and unbiased with yourself, so you can make the proper adjustments to your answers!
Google = Best Friend: Before going into the interview, you should know the name of the company's CEO and have a clear understanding of its mission statement, corporate cultures and values. Take it a step further and read the news the morning of in case something important pops up that you can bring up or ask questions about in the interview. It's also great just to have some knowledge of current events to tie back into your conversations. This is one surefire way to stand out.
[Mel]: During one of my interviews for my current employer, I was asked "What do you know about [firm]?" Instead of simply repeating their mission statement and values, I instead discussed how the firm was performing in the current market and plans they had for the future. My interviewer was taken aback by just how much knowledge I had and was impressed by the time and care I took in researching the bank and the role I was interested in.
Be Honest: If you ever find yourself in a situation when the interviewer asks you a question that you do not know the answer to, be honest and let the him/her know that you are unsure and will get back to him/her. As soon as you get home from the interview, do some research and include that answer in your thank you note. This shows that you are a candidate who is straightforward and honest, as well as one who keeps your word and follows through.
Know Your Resume: Most of the questions that you will be asked will be coming from the information on your resume. And when senior year rolls around, you may have already accumulated multiple prior work experiences/internships, so it's easy to forget some of the details still on there. Brush up before you go in for your interview!
Follow up: Sometimes you may overthink sending your interviewer or people you met during your interviews an email because you're so happy that most of the stress is finally off when you're out of that office. Not only will a quick 1 paragraph thank-you email be good practice for professional correspondence, but it will also remind the people you met of who you are (which who knows, may indirectly come to the rescue during the selection process). Don't make it too long winded, but do put in a few details that are unique to yourself or that you talked about in your interview. Also, take this time to ask any additional thoughtful questions or to answer the questions you did not know during your interview (if appropriate).
Are you ready?
You can be asked so many different types of questions that honestly, you can't ever be 100% ready with all the "correct" and "perfect" answer. It sounds a little cliche, but often times, an interviewer is not always looking to hire you for what you say, but for the person and skills that you possess. Be confident, Be yourself, and Be ready to slay that interview. Best of luck.
Land It and Love It will be an on-going series here on our blog and we would love to hear what other topics you would like us to write about! Please let us know in the comments :)
Jess & Mel