Sometimes we get so nervous in preparing for a job interview that even the best of us forget some of the basics. In this edition of our IBM recruiter series, Steve Choquette shares his checklist of reminders for any candidate going in to an interview.
By Steve Choquette
Before the Interview
Review your resume.
Review your resume in advance of the interview. Go through each item on your resume. Be clear in your head what you want to say about every bullet. Think about possible questions the phrases in your resume might trigger (e.g. “what role did you have on the Smith project?”)
Rehearse clear and crisp your responses.
As you go through your resume, think through potential questions and answers in advance. Rehearse a crisp answer – this comes from good preparation. Think of your message, and rehearse the best way to get that across. Don’t grunt or mumble. And don’t ramble; let the interviewer deal with pauses in conversation. Your goal is to convince the interviewer that you are the best candidate they will talk with.
Do your research about the company.
Research the company you want to work for. Identify what’s most important to you, and then make sure you ask those questions. What are your top criteria for accepting the position – culture, advancement, work/life balance? During the pauses in conversation, ask your questions based on that criteria. Know what the company does. Talk with others who work on the team, have done internships with the company, or who interact with the hiring manager.
Do research to determine what is appropriate for the company you’re talking to. Some companies expect dress codes at an interview. You may be expected to be “the face” of the company – sales person, bank teller, etc. Other companies are less formal. Tech company employees tend to wear blue jeans and t-shirts, although that doesn’t always translate to interviews. It is better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.
Prepare your clothes the day before your interview. Make sure they all match and are ironed, and that they fit you well. Remember the old adage: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Dress the part.
During the Interview
Help the interviewer.
Be sure to bring up the items you want the interviewer to remember about you. During one memorable interview, a student guided me through their resume, highlighting the things he wanted me to walk away with. He wasn’t pushy, but made sure I knew his strengths by the end of the 30 minutes. I was quite impressed. And he was memorable.
Be open and flexible.
Most companies want to hire you for a career, not a specific job. The interviewer may ask questions to see how flexible you are, how you handle adversity, what role you played on team projects, and how well you communicate. They are looking for more than just technical aptitude. They want someone who fits in with the corporate culture, who can advance, and make the company more successful.
Be engaging and interesting during the interview. Don’t just answer the questions.
Be honest in your answers, but don’t talk bad about a former employer. Ever.
Prepare, rehearse, and be your best self! Good luck with your job hunt!
Comment below if you have any questions for our recruiters.
Steve is one of IBM’s recruiters based in the US with 20+ years of college recruiting, Steve has seen well over 21,000 résumés, most were poorly written and did not showcase the applicant’s proficiency. Steve has helped many students and IBM peers rewrite their résumé to get their dream job.
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