As many of you know from Co-op program, interviews can be daunting, but if you prepare sufficiently, then you’ll at least take comfort in knowing you’ve done all you can, the rest is up to fate! From the previous interview experiences I’ve had, I can tell you they were all not completely as horrible as I had imagined. There were many interesting ones as well, stimulating due to the type of brainstorming you get to have. As there are other scenarios that I have not personally experienced, I will be referencing the Interview Toolkit written by UBC Engineering Co-op program.
Interview Appropriate Outfits
First thing you should definitely prepare for is getting an appropriate outfit, especially if you’re on a budget like me. I couldn’t get a complete suit, so I found pieces that fit together from various stores. I got an anti-wrinkle collar shirt and straight-cut black pants from Banana Republic, added a blazer from J Crew, and a pair of black work heels from Aldo. A great store to start off at would be Uniqlo, since they have a variety of very affordable working clothes. Just remember you should get everything neat and clean, meaning ironing out wrinkles and creases and polishing your shoes. These thing should not be left last minute, cause they take time and is crucial to your interviewer’s first impression of you.
Types of interviews
Imagine the scenario of the actual interview, will the interview be one-on-one or will you be placed in a group? If any of the information is unclear, it’s highly suggested that you contact the interviewer or the HR personnel responsible for arranging interviews. I’ve had mostly panel interviews, where two or more interviews take turn asking questions, often about different aspects of the company. One interviewer was usually the higher up manager, while the other was my direct supervisor. This is done so that my supervisor had a chance to see how well they’d work with me. I’ve had one group interview, where about 5 other engineering students were interviewed at the same time as me. We sat around a circular conference table and the interviewers started asking questions. We answered questions voluntarily. As to keep the interview shorter, not everyone was forced to answer each question. I used this opportunity to listen to other interviewee’s responses and tweak mine. Sometimes I felt strongly about an answer so I started first. In this format, try to avoid being aggressive or demeaning, rather, be helpful and agreeable, but at the same time lead conversations where you’d like them to go. Other types of interviews include telephone, live video, and taped video. The expectations aren’t all that different between these formats, and I would say treat them as you would an in-person interview.
When you’re searching for information about the interview, try using LinkedIn. You should know your interviewer’s names, if not, once again I suggest you contact the company. By searching them on LinkedIn, you understand their background, be it in human resources or the technical field. HR professionals will tend to ask non-technical questions related to your soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and ability to overcome obstacles. On the other hand, interviewers who are engineers, or managers with technical backgrounds will ask about your technical abilities, often in the form of a problem for you to solve. On a side note, after you’ve viewed their profile, they will be notified. This shows your initiative and puts your name in their mind even before the interview. They might even click back, checking your profile for more information about you, so this is also serves as an opportunity to stand out. Therefore, ensure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date. Writing a personal bio and putting up a professional photo are crucial.
That’s it for part 1, but please also check out part 2, where I’ll talk about the questions I’ve received during interviews, how I answered them using the START technique, and other general tips so you’ll be confident about your next interview!