Are you interviewing for a job soon? Here are some great tips to help you familiarize yourself with the interview process. This article is based on a talk from Mary Bradley, Director of Career & Professional Development at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UT Health San Antonio.
Tip #1: Interviews are a Two-Way Street
Interviewers want to learn more about your skills and experience to decide if you are a fit for the position. At the same time, you want to learn more about the job, your potential colleagues and the workplace to decide if the position is a fit for you. You are marketing yourself, but you also want to make sure you this is a place you want to work.
Tip #2: Prepare for the Interview
Prepare by researching the job, the company and the people. Remember to review the company’s website and read the bios of the staff members and those you will be interviewing with.
Tip #3: Know what the key players want
Generally, there are three key players in the job interview. Human Resources (HR) staff are generally non-experts and may be conduct screening interviews. They are looking to see if you can communicate and if you meet the basic requirements for the job. The hiring manager is looking to see if you have the exact skills they need, and if you fit with the team. The team members are looking to see if they want to work with you every day.
Tip #4: Use your voice during a phone interview
Since there are no facial and body language cues on the phone, try to inject positivity & excitement into your voice, ask for clarification when needed and communicate clearly. For an optimal environment, try to use a landline if possible, and find a quiet place. Remember and use interviewers’ names as much as possible.
Tip #5: Be nice to the front desk person
Everyone you meet during the interview process can potentially give feedback on your hiring, so be nice to everyone you meet from the moment you step through the door.
Tip #6: Don’t talk badly about your past employer
Describe a time when you had difficulty working with a supervisor or a co-worker in the past. Tell me about a time when you came up with an innovative solution to a challenge that your lab was facing. These are conflict questions that are generally meant to ask how you handle a situation. It’s less about why something happened or why your supervisor is a jerk, so don’t rant.
Tip #7: Have questions for the interviewers
Have at least one (or more!) questions for the interviewers. Some examples include: what are the some of the ideal qualities you are looking for in this role? Where would you like to see your group in five years? What are your expectations for someone in this role in the first 90 days? What do you like best about working here?
Tip #8: If you have to give a talk, tell a story
If you are interviewing for a research position, you may be asked to give a research talk. Interviewers do not want to hear about every single experiment that you’ve done – try to tell a story that will resonate with the audience and relates to the position you are applying for.
Tip #9: Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
Practice interview answers. Prepare technology in advance. Know who you are interviewing and don’t hesitate to ask for the names of people who will be interviewing you or a schedule for the day.
Tip #10: Dress Professionally, but Comfortably
The interview is not the day to wear those new shoes or new outfit. Wear something you like, that’s comfortable and professional to help you project confidence.
Tip #11: Make a Master List
Interviewers want to hear specific examples of how you’ve handled projects and situations. Make a master list by writing down projects and situations you’ve handled as they occur, so that you can refer back to prep for interview questions that begin “Tell me about a time…..” A good way to think about it is to use SITUATION –> ACTION –> RESULT where you 1) describe a situation or challenge or a problem to be solved 2) describe the action you took, what did you do 3) describe the outcome or result
Tip #12: Thank Everyone
Thank everyone you meet and send a card or email after the interview to reiterate your passion and interest, your strengths and why they align with the position.