I think I’m one of the few people who enjoys interviews. This doesn’t mean I’m immune to the anxiety that comes along with them, but I look at interviews as conversations with people who are doing what I hope to be doing down the road. Shifting the framework about interviews not only helps ease the tension, but it will also helped me to learn more about the company and the industry.
From my experience (and I’ve had a lot of it in the past year), the key to changing attitudes about interviews is to be prepared. We’ve all heard it before: research the company and prepare questions. The latter has been invaluable – no matter what type of interview I had.
Having questions prepared is critical – and not to make you look better in the eyes of the interviewer, but to help you understand the company and the position better. Think of things you need to know about the company before agreeing to work there, and don’t be shy about asking the person interviewing you.
I have a list of questions I always pull from that match what is most important to me in a work environment:
- How is the company organized? How often do entry level employees interact with executive leadership?
- What’s the company’s vision for the future?
- How can my position help the company achieve its goals?
- Does your company have a mentorship program? Is it formal or informal?
- How does your company’s evaluation process work?
- Do you have professional development programs? What types?
- What is the typical career path for an entry level employee?
- How did you get to where you are now?
- How would you describe the culture here?
- How do you think your competition views you?
- What’s the ratio for teamwork versus individual work?
Most interviewers will cover key topics, but if they don’t, you should never leave an interview without asking the following:
- How many employees does the company have?
- What are the responsibilities of the position?
- Who does a person in this position report to?
- What are the next steps in this process?
- May I have your business card?
Not only do these help me understand the company and position more, but it also allows me to get to know the interviewer – who is most likely in a position that I’d like to be in one day. It always comes back to networking, people!
Whether an interview is for an internship, a job, a scholarship, or a promotion, the important thing to remember is that it should be a conversation that provides both parties with more information and a better understanding of who they might be hiring or where they could be working. Just think of it as another way to meet more people, and you should be able to breathe a little bit easier before your next interview.