Happy Monday, Ramblers!
Last week, I had the pleasure of returning to my old school, CU Boulder, to be a guest speaker at a professional chapter that I was president of during my time in school. The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) meeting was on the importance of interviewing.
As I sat there sharing with current students vital tips and pieces of advice, it dawned on me just how critical the interview is in the stage of the job process. As a peer career advisor in school, part of my job was to coach undergraduate students of all majors in how to nail the interview process. I thought it would be helpful to share my best practices for you all, in case you are a young professional in the middle of the job/internship hunt!
1. Informational Interviews Above All
The most important part of the interview process actually happens before any real interviewing has even occurred. Informational interviews are a 30 minute or so networking appointment that you’ll make with mentors, interesting companies, or people you admire to learn more about their business and advice for landing a job.
To be clear, informational interviews are NOT where you ask for a job. It is a get-to-know you opportunity in which you seek to build a relationship with the people and places you would maybe like to work with someday. Come prepared with 7-10 questions, and express genuine interest in what they have to say. Make it clear that you understand they’re busy, so you’ll keep it brief. Finally, the most important thing is to follow up with a thank you and be sure to ask, “Who else should I speak with?” This will keep the doors open and conversations continuing. Then, if an opportunity at that company arrives in the future, you will already be top of mind because they have a relationship with you.
2. Preparing for the interview
When it comes to preparing, be certain to research the company ahead of time. You need to be familiar with their values, initiatives, and products. If you want to look up your interviewers on LinkedIn that can also help to understand who you’re talking to. Practice in the mirror, or with a trusted advisor, to really nail the experience based questions that will come up (i.e. tell me about a time you worked in a team).
To best prepare, come ready with 3-4 questions for the end of your interview. It’s a huge red flag to the interviewer if you have no questions at the end of the interview. It’s important to come with concerns, comments, and clarifications to clear up during the interview. Some of the best questions you can ask are, “What is your managing style?” or “How do you live out your company values in the daily work that you do?”
3. Authenticity Aces
Although practice makes perfect, and research is helpful, when it comes to interviewing one of the most important things is to be your authentic self. Especially with in-person interviews, many of these are to see if you are a good culture fit with the company and the team. The interview is the chance to see if your experiences on paper match the personality and soft skills needed to be that right fit. Never try to be someone you're not, but definitely bring forth the best version of yourself for a first impression.
4. Interview Your Interviewer
The whole point of an interview is not just to see if you’re a right fit, but also to see if you like the company you’re interviewing for. Ask important questions, look around the facility, and really get a feeling for if you could see yourself working there.
5. Follow up!
The interview process isn’t over when the interview ends. It is super important to follow up afterwards with the person you spoke with and the recruiter that’s been helping you. Be genuinely grateful, and bonus points if you can actually send a handwritten thank you card. That speaks volumes!
Realize that you might not hear back right away, and that everyone is incredibly busy. Give it a week and a half if you haven’t heard back yet, and be sure to add something new to the conversation when you do follow up again. Such as an interesting news clip you saw them in, another piece of information you wanted to share, or an additional question. Most importantly, be patient!! If it’s the right fit, fate will find you.
Well Ramblers, I hope that was helpful! I know this time last year I was so nervous and overwhelmed with the job process, but it really truly does work out in the end. Have faith and do your best work!