Career Series: Top Five Interview Tips
You have heard all the basics when it comes to the interview process: research the company, prepare for common interview questions, and follow-up with a thank you. But, the information is always so general. Wouldn’t some real life examples be nice? Well, read on for our top five interview tips.
I joined the Seelio team in January, so I just went through the interview process a few months ago. I have been through the process several times, and was even most recently teaching an undergraduate business course on career planning. So, I didn’t need to prep too much, right? Wrong! I knew that putting in hours of prep would help me really stand out in the interview, and these tips are designed to help you do the same.
You have to do your research – there is no way around it. But, it goes beyond just clicking through the organization’s website and reading the mission, vision, and values. Use social media platforms to get a better feel for the pulse of the organization and current events. Like their Facebook page, read their blog, and see what they are tweeting about.
You also need to research the people who will be interviewing you. Google their names (they are going to Google you) and review their profiles on LinkedIn.
- How long have they been with the organization?
- Where did they work before?
- Where did they go to college?
Maybe you can uncover some kind of connection. Also, on LinkedIn under Privacy & Settings, be sure to select that others will see your name and headline (and not anonymous) when you’ve viewed their profile.
All of your research will help you prepare a list of questions to ask. Not just a laundry list of questions, but really good questions that help you demonstrate your knowledge of the organization and help you connect with the interviewers. Be sure to write down a few notes as the interviewers answer your questions.
I love this question because it can help you make a personal connection with the interviewer. I also love it because they are going to say something positive, which provides a perfect opportunity to reference their answer in your follow-up thank you email.
THOSE COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Next, it’s time to prepare for as many common interview questions as possible. Your answers need to be relevant to the position, so begin by reviewing the job description and identifying key words and responsibilities. You have been working hard and accomplishing a lot, so you will need to spend some time reflecting on which experiences and skills to highlight. Fortunately, you are already doing a lot of the leg work by building your Seelio portfolio. Review all the works in your portfolio, and find the best examples that showcase your strengths in the areas that are essential to the role.
Now you are almost ready for the big day! You will definitely rock the interview, but you want to think ahead about one more thing. The leave-behind. Of course you will bring printed copies of your resume on professional resume paper, but you want to go one step further. Plan to leave something behind that will leave a lasting impression about why you are uniquely qualified for the job. A perfect example would be leaving a business card that directs to your portfolio or other professional examples of work.
When I interviewed with Seelio, I was asked to prepare a presentation outlining why students should use the site. One of the primary value propositions I presented was that Seelio provides a way for students to build their professional brand. I created my own Seelio page to showcase my experiences, and then I started to think about what else I could do to demonstrate my brand. I wanted to leave something compelling behind, something that would connect my name to my greatest strengths. See what I left for each interviewer above.
Send a thank you note to everyone involved in the interview process. Send it by email, and send it within 24 hours. You can still send a handwritten note as well, but always send one by email to make sure it gets there before decisions are made about next steps.
Your thank you note needs to be well written, and it needs to be personalized. This is where you need the notes you jotted down while the interviewers were answering your well thought out questions. Go back to your notes find something meaningful to reference in each thank you note. This is why I love asking, “What do you enjoy most about being a part of this organization?” It gives you the perfect opportunity to show you were listening and reflect on a shared positive attribute. Here’s an example:
Thank you for taking the time to interview me today for <<position>>. I enjoyed meeting you and learning more about the nature of the role.
It really resonated with me when you talked about how constant change is one of the most rewarding aspects of working at Seelio, and also one of the biggest challenges. I am excited about the possibility of becoming part of this team and having the opportunity to wear many different hats and face new challenges each day.
Thanks again for your time and consideration.
- Research the people who will be interviewing you, not just the organization.
- Take notes, especially when interviewers are answering your questions.
- Use your Seelio portfolio to prepare for common interview questions (and bring a laptop or tablet to show examples during the interview).
- Plan a meaningful leave-behind that demonstrates your unique qualifications.
- Personalize every thank you.
Stay tuned for more professional development tips as part of our career series. Coming up next: Mastering Networking!