From Dr. Christopher Salute’s That Professor Life Blog

Interviews can be so nerve wracking. Here’s a secret from a professional: they are nerve wracking for us too! Why? 

  • We’re not hiring someone because we just want to give away salary. 
  • We’re looking for a long term fit. 
  • We are tired of doing extra work and answering to our managers about why we haven’t hired someone yet! 

So, we want you… IF you’re the right candidate for the job. Well, how will we know? It’s always a gamble, which is why in-basket tests and shadow days are really a great idea for high level positions. But, if the organization you’re looking to work with is using a more traditional method, then they’ll probably be looking to hire you based no three criteria: 

  • Resume 
  • Interview
  • Specific degrees or certifications you may need for that role

Your resume earned you the phone screen. Your phone screen earned you the interview. So, we don’t need to worry about adjusting either of those… YET. And, you can’t change the certifications and degrees you have, overnight. So, that leaves one thing we can work, on together: The Interview. Here are the three things I want you to think about as you’re prepping. 

  1. Prep, prep, prep! 
  2. Tell the stories you want to tell 
  3. Be more than a resume

Prep, Prep, Prep! 

Here’s what I always want you to remember: you have won or lost the job before the interview. You’ve won or lost it before you got to the conference room. It happened when you woke up that morning… when you prepared last night… when you worked on all of the prep questions you went through. 

Some of the most common interview questions you can prepare for include: 

  1. Tell Me About Yourself. 
  2. Why Do You Want This Job? 
  3. Why are you a good fit for the position? 
  4. What would you accomplish if you were hired?
  5. Why are you the best candidate for the job?
  6. What Is Your Greatest Strength? 
  7. What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
  8. Etc… 

You can and should prepare to answer these questions and more. Now… how you answer them is another story…. YOUR story. 

Tell Your Story (or stories)  

Here’s an interesting little snippet for you. Did you know that you can answer any question above (or any question asked of you) by telling a story? You are such a complex creature with a complex mind. When someone says “what is your biggest strength?” you have to be able to think of about 1000 ways that has been exhibited. Or how about your life’s goals? Same thing. Choose stories that weave multiple components of you into them! And, explain your character. 

If you won a championship race and want to tell that story… tell it! 

“What’s your greatest strength?” Competitiveness… Kind of like this race I was in.

“What’s your goal in 5 years?” To hone my craft… like when I was a competitive runner. 

“Do you work well in teams?” Absolutely… like my track team… individuals all competing but coming together. 

Tell these stories out loud while you’re falling asleep, taking a morning walk, brushing your teeth (okay maybe wait until you’re done), in the car, etc. Commit them to memory. 

More than a Resume

Remember that a resume is great. A certification is as well. GPA? Also wonderful. But, trust me when I tell you… they don’t mean anything without being a human being. People aren’t going to work with a robot. If they were, we’d automate your job! Personability is key during an interview. How can you do this?

  • Ask questions, be inquisitive 
    • What does it take to be successful here? 
    • How did you find your stride here, interviewer? 
    • What’s your favorite part about working at this organization?
  • Throw in some WORK FRIENDLY humor 
    • Yeah… when I’m not fighting with our spreadsheets, I actually have time to think! 
    • How much coffee are we allotted? Is there a limit when I’m on deadline? 
    • Where’s the nearest sushi delivery restaurant? I know I’ll be here late!
  • Don’t make it too personal, though
    • “Family” is great. Discussing details about spouses and children during an interview may be too much 
  • Enjoy the process! 
    • Smile
    • Laugh
    • Be positive
    • It’ll show! 

Bootcamps like Cogent University can help you with your soft skills: interview prep, resume building, etc. Find the folks who can help prepare you.