3 answers

What is a skill or quality most people overlook when it comes to interviewing that is actually vitally important?

Asked Summit, New Jersey

As a college student, the transition to the workforce is happening really soon. Since I will have to do many interviews, what soft skill or quality should I make sure I have in order to make myself as hirable as possible? #interviews #jobs #computer-science #professional-development #stem #working-in-big-companies

3 answers

Steve’s Answer

Updated

That's an excellent question! As a software engineer, I've endured many, many interviews. The hiring process typically requires multiple interviews. I offer my interviewing rules as an aid.


Rule #1: The objective is not to receive an offer from the first interview. The objective is to get the second interview, which is almost always required.


Rule #2: Think counter-intuitively. Think of the prospective employer's interests instead of your own. It's not about you. Don't think "Do I want to work here? Would this position be good for me?" Instead, think "Can I help the company?" Be humble. You have already decided the company/position might be good for you and you'll never know for sure until after starting a position.


Rule #3: Forget about pay, benefits & duties. Do not ask about it. None of that matters if you don't get an offer. Avoiding those questions often leads to an offer better than advertised.


Rule #4: Appreciate and like everybody. You don't know the interviewer(s). It's a real advantage if the interviewer (or any contact) feels that you like them. You can't fake it. Learn to assume every person you meet will end up being your best friend. It stands out. You can always change your mind later.


Rule #5: Avoid asking questions (*save one - see below) during the interview. Interviewees that ask questions invariably violate rule #2. When answering questions, avoid saying "I/me/my" (interpersonal/business communication skills). Remember rule #2. Interviews usually conclude with "Do you have any questions?" (see rule #11). If you must ask questions, try to save them until then. If you feel pressure to ask relevant questions, ask them with rule #2 in mind.


Rule #6: Always be honest. If you lack a skill they ask about, say "I don't have much/any experience with [that skill]" Remember rule #2. Honesty can get you an offer even if you don't seem to be qualified for the position. I once received a very good offer (after several interviews) for a position after the initial interview, when I said I didn't think I was a good fit- the job didn't seem to match my skill set (rule #2). As it turned out, they didn't really care about what they specified in the job description - they wanted a good engineer (or somebody they like). I got the job with an extra $10K over the advertised salary (rule #3).


Rule #7: No jokes.


Rule #8: No personal stories. (Rule #2.)


Rule #9: 'Mirror and match'. It's a sales technique designed to build instant rapport. It makes everybody tend to like you in minutes.


Rule #10: Follow the universal interview guidelines. Do your homework and visit their website. Dress professionally. Be well-groomed. Do not use perfume/cologne. Be polite and mind your manners. Be 10-15 minutes early!


Rule #11: At the end of the interview, when the interviewer asks "Do you have any questions?", ask this: "Why do you like working here?" Ask it verbatim. Practice asking the question so you can deliver it naturally. This one is very important! It's your *single-use* secret weapon. If you know you'll get a second interview, save it for the second interview. You can always answer "No questions. You have explained it well." It never hurts to give a subtle professional compliment to the interviewer.


Rule #12: Once the interview is concluded, thank the interviewer and express your *sincere* appreciation. "Thank you very much for your time. I greatly appreciate it." Be sincere. If you don't really appreciate it, they'll know.


Notes:

Rule #4 must be learned & practiced. Fortunately, you can practice with anybody you meet anywhere and it doesn't take long to become skilled.


Rule #9 'Mirror and match' is also a learned skill. However, having a basic understanding alone will help. I found a quick primer here: www.maxxmktg.com/mirror.html


Social media can ruin the best interview of all time. Twitter, FB, Instagram, etc. can cost you dearly. Puppies and kittens are okay - delete the rest. Also, while you are busy interviewing, someone might take a look at your vehicle. Make sure the interior looks clean and there are no bumper stickers, etc.


Much of the above applies to other areas of life.


Best of luck to you. If you take my suggestions to heart, I suspect you won't need any luck.

Jess’s Answer

Good question. Please note that this answer is solely based on my opinion. I believe an overlooked quality is being very engaged during the interview. Give the interviewer your full attention, give eye contact, have your body language show that you are interested and engaged in what they are saying (especially when they are answering a question that you had for them for example.) This is a great way to show you care about the interviewer, their time, and the job/role.

Victoria’s Answer

Updated Dallas, Texas
One way you can really stand out is by researching the company you are interviewing with. You would be surprised how many times, candidates forget to Google or Wiki the company, the industry, and the company's performance. Also search LinkedIn to find contacts and company information...By doing your homework and comparing companies, you can literally propose a strategy for running that particular company or doing that specific job - you will stand out. This is so critical and can help you determine quickly whether you are a good fit for the company. Make a folder or bookmarks and even some high level notes to bring to the interview if that is allowed. Summarize the information in your mind so you can speak about it during the interview. There are other ways you can stand out as well... Practice talking about the company and pretend you are presenting to the board of directors or the managers who will be interviewing you - this is a visualization exercise that can draw upon during the actual interview. Describe your observations in your own words in a clear manner and it's okay to use graphs and charts if you can explain what they mean and how they are relevant to your interview. Employers want to know that you understand their issues and that you can articulate solutions. They want to feel confident in your ability to represent their company and message. Make a good first impression by arriving on time and dressing appropriately for the specific environment. When you are introduced make eye contact and have a firm handshake. Be aware that you are being interviewed from the moment you arrive at the front door until you complete all the tasks. What this means is that the front desk is interviewing you, the assistants are interviewing you, the manager is interviewing you, etc. Be polite to everyone because everyone will be comparing notes when you leave. Before and once you get the job, treat everyone with respect and professionalism from the guards, the housekeepers, to the cooks, to the supervisors, to your peers, to the board of directors. Everyone has an important job and contributes to the overall success of the organization at every level. Everyone has something to teach you. Try to learn something about the corporate culture ahead of time if you can. While many companies appear to be similar or do the same thing, cultures can be very different. You might gravitate to start-ups or prefer traditional environments. Think of company culture as the glue that holds the company together: it is intangible but a big part of the company's identity - kind of like a personality. You might see clues in their marketing, commercials, or websites. A good example is the difference between Southwest Airlines and American Airlines. They both fly planes but look at their mission statements and you will see they have very different approaches to how to run a company. Both are excellent companies but the company culture is truly unique in each case. Be prepared to ask good questions. You are interviewing the companies as much as they are interviewing you. Be polite and listen carefully to each question. Make eye contact during the interview and have a firm handshake before and after. Make sure your resume is spell checked. Practice a variety of interview questions about your skills as well as how you react to different situations. Thank you notes are really important because they give you the opportunity to stand out, communicate one more time with the interviewer, and show that you are professional. Good luck and keep us posted! #interviews #jobs #computer-science #professional-development #stem #working-in-big-companies