Last year, I was finishing up my undergrad degree getting ready to graduate, having decided I didn’t want to get my Masters but instead wanted to hop right into the workforce and pursue my dreams of living and working in New York City. I was applying to a lot of jobs, therefore doing quite a few phone interviews. Back then, my idea of interview prep was simply scanning the website for 5 minutes. Fast forward a year and I have secured a job at Piper Maddox as a Renewable Energy Recruitment Consultant, and already supported many people through the interview process that ended in a new job - I now realize what a disservice I did myself when preparing for an interview.
Today, interview preparation is one my favorite parts of my job as I see it as something that truly has a huge impact when trying to secure your next role. Here I’m going to walk you through what I usually discuss with people, and why it’s important:
The key questions to think about before the interview.
With each of these questions it’s important to remember you’ll learn much more about the company, and your fit, throughout the process, but it’s so important to make sure you are as well-armed as possible prior to the call.
What do you know about the Company?
Before I give any advice, I ask what they’ve done to prepare for the interview. The typical response I get is “I took a look at the website and read the job description”. This is good, but we live in a world where we’ve got access to a ton of knowledge right at our finger tips, so we should be using it to secure our dream jobs! Other sources I suggest using are Google News and LinkedIn, each of these sources pull up information that may not be easily accessible or even on the website.
This is important for a few reasons, the first being that for an employer it’s a good gauge of commitment. Having someone that walks into an interview already having a good bit of knowledge on the company is appealing to an interviewer as it shows interest. For the interviewee it’s important as it’s one of the first steps in figuring out if a company matches what they want in a culture and if it would be a place they’d like to work.
It's also worth noting that an interview can essentially be boiled down to two key questions:
Why would you be a good fit for this role?
This part of the interview prep takes a good chunk of time, as I find there are a lot of small reminders that don’t necessarily come to the forefront of people’s mind. The tips I usually recommend range from having your resume in front of you (only if it’s a phone interview), being more specific and highlighting key projects. For most people this is the self-explanatory portion of the interview - of course it's important as companies want well qualified people to work for them that can walk in and do the job, but it goes beyond this. It’s important that we’re able to articulate our workplace successes and failures as it shows capacity to learn and grow on the job. We have a habit of shying away from our failures, but by highlighting them and explaining how you learned from it can set you apart from other interviewees. Being specific is hugely important because it highlights exactly what you did in situations.
Why are you interested?
There is a big misconception that being a good technical fit for the role is the be all end all for an interview. This is one of the most important parts of the interview. I work with a lot of passive candidates that aren’t necessarily scouring LinkedIn for their next job, but are open to opportunities that present more growth and allow them to take the next step in their career. It’s SO important to convey why you’re interested and how this makes sense as the next step in your career. I think playing your cards too close to your chests is one of the biggest mistakes you could make, as employers want to hire people who are motivated to accept and succeed in the role.
Perhaps the most obvious one - when going through an interview process it’s so important to ask questions throughout. For a lot of people they think an interview is a one-way street where the candidate gets peppered with questions and then the company decides if they’re a fit. This isn’t the case - it’s as much about you feeling it is a fit for you, so ask questions that will help you make a well-informed decision about whether this role and company are where you want to work.
You’re often judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give. I recommend questions be in a few key areas as well as the ones that are important to you.
I’d say it helps to categorize your questions into three areas:
These questions help you understand the longevity of the business and the plans for an advancement.
What are the company’s plans for growth?
How does this business unit play into those plans?
Questions in this area can help give more of an insight into the breadth of the role and possible career growth in the business.
What do the first 6 months of this role look like versus the long term?
What is the long-term growth trajectory for a person in this position?
These questions serve a purpose when it comes to building rapport with your interviewer.
Why did you join this business?
What’s the most challenging part of your job/ what’s your favorite part of your job?
Interviewing can be a stressful time for many people and it shouldn’t be. This is an exciting moment and a possible new journey for you, so it’s important to take a deep breath and enjoy it, as it could be the next adventure in your career!