How to Ace an Interview

Are you thinking…what the hell does she know about interviewing? Calm down, I have a job. I’ve also interviewed over 400 people (or more) over the last three years (mostly engineers). I’ve seen each and every step leading to the downfall of an interview. I also recently posted one tip on my Facebook page and a few people were surprised. I let my FB audience know you want to show companies that you’re up to speed when it comes to tech so a Gmail email account is a must. College email addresses are also acceptable, but no AOL or Yahoo mumbo jumbo. Here are a few tips:

  • Research The Company – Duh. The amount of research you do will depend on the job you’re applying for but it doesn’t hurt to know more than you need to to impress the recruiter/hiring manager. This will not only impress the recruiter, but it will give you insight into whether you really want to work for the company. Earlier this year, I worked for a cube-sat company and I would interview business development candidates who could not explain what we did. If you can’t explain it now, you won’t be explaining it later – because you’re not getting this job. Here are a few questions to research:
    • When was the company founded and by who?
    • How many employees do they have and what is their company culture like?
    • Who are their customers and how would you make the company better? (Glassdoor is a great resource)
  1. Be Energetic – You want to sound eager and excited about the opportunity whether on the phone or in person. I will never forget a time where I was recruiting for a non-engineering role and took that time to only actively search for a diverse candidate. I found a brown girl who was over qualified for the role and we flew her to San Francisco for an interview. On the phone, she was stellar but in person she came across lackluster. She would have aced the interview and jump started her career if only she had seemed more excited. It is OK to be nervous, but you have to combat that anxiety by smiling and asking questions. Even during lunch with the team she was silent and standoffish.
  2. Stop Talkingggg – You have to find a balance between selling yourself and talking too much. This is an important emotional intelligence characteristic. There have been times where I introduced myself to a candidate and they spoke for 30 minutes straight without me asking any questions. I would never interrupt someone when speaking because I wanted to see how long they would ramble on. My ramble meter would give me an excellent idea as to how unaware they were, which is not what I was looking for in a teammate. If your interviewer would like to know more about a particular topic, they will ask. Use that time to talk for a couple of minutes about your highlights and things that you’ve accomplished and wrap up.
  3. Look Professional – People’s first impression of you when you interview or begin a job will stick with you. This starts with you LinkedIn photo by the way. If you show up to an interview dressed immaturely (ripped jeans & short skirts) you will be treated like a new grad. If you show up looking like a CEO, you will be treated with more respect. This works the same way with attitude. If you are poised, mature, and remain calm under pressure, you will be seen as completely pulled together. If you’re wearing a skirt, use the high school “fingertip rule.” If you know you sweat a lot, plan your travel with little to no walking involved and carry a towel with you to wipe off on the street or in your car before you walk in. Appear pulled together at all times!
  4. Always Follow Up & Be Specific – I don’t care how old fashioned it is, I always appreciated a follow up email the day after an interview. It shows passion. One thing that I do personally, is call out a specific part of the interview that I enjoyed. For example, “Hello Rhonda, thanks so much for speaking to me yesterday. I enjoyed hearing about Apple’s organizational structure and how you all process executive improvements.” This shows my interviewer that I was listening and that I am eager to learn.

I hope you enjoyed these tips. Happy to answer questions or provide additional resources – comment below darn-it!

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