So main-round interviews have passed and you either have a job or you don’t… Yet!
Continuous round interviews can feel like a month-long flurry of sending applications between studying, interviewing, and completing papers and projects. By the end of it you’re hoping to have obtained that long-desired co-op position.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it: it takes work, but the ultimate reward is more than simply being employed but improving on your employability and interview skills.
Here’s what you can do to simplify the interview process and maximize your chances at getting a position.
Learn from the main round
If you didn’t get interviews in the main round, a big issue may have been your resume. Proofread it for grammar and spelling errors, but also design and readability. Interviewers are wading through seas of resumes, and if they can’t pinpoint what they are looking for on your resume in under four seconds, they’ll move on.
If you did interview in the main round and passed into continuous, great work! Your resume has got the edge, and all you need to do is take your interview skills to the same level. Take the time to reflect on the interviews you did. Ask yourself what you think worked well, and what you think needs improvement. Were there questions you struggled with, and ones that you answered well? Write it down. Taking these notes into consideration allows you to have tangible things to work on going into your next interview. Do you need to be more prepared for technical questions? Are you taking too long to explain your point? Alternatively, are you too curt?
With these notes in mind, try booking a mock interview at the Tatham Center, so you can have an unbiased critique to help you work through what you need to improve.
Research the company you’re applying to
There are two sides in the interview, you and the interviewer themselves. It may seem like you are only in control one of these elements, but putting in some hard research on the company you’re applying to can prepare you for the position. You will gain an understanding of not only what they do, but also what you can bring to the role, given your existing skills and experience.
While you prepare, ask yourself:
- What does this company do? Why do they do it? - This will help you answer inevitable questions like, “What do you know about us?” and “why do you want to work for us?”
- What have previous employees said about this position in this company? – having that insider’s knowledge about the company culture can help you determine if you’re a good fit since an interview is the interviewers chance to determine how you fit into the company, beyond knowing your skills from your resume. Networking opportunities and internship review sites like Glassdoor can help you with this research.
- How are my skills suited for this role, and what differentiates me from other applicants? – while this question seems like it’s not related to company research, keeping this in mind while you’re searching helps you determine how to market yourself in your interview.
Be confident, but not over-confident
The trick to interviews is confidence in your own abilities, and this comes with a combination of self-awareness, and reflection.
Here are some tips for a quick boost before stepping into interview:
- Dress to impress – Putting on your best and feeling great about how you look can lend an aura of confidence in spite of your nerves
- Smile – Beyond faking it till you’re making it, smiling can help improve your mood and calm you down
- Breathe – doing breathing exercises can help slow your heartrate if you’re nervous walking in to your interview
There is a point where overconfidence can destroy your interview. While your first Professional Development course will emphasize not to lie on your resume – as it is an academic offence – lying in your interview has the same result. Part of the interviewing process is presenting your past work experiences skills and projects in the most relevant light, but it’s crucial to be honest. Even if you do fool your interviewer then you’ll be placed in a position with expectations beyond your ability and in the end, you may only hurt yourself (or your end-of-term ranking) by exaggerating your skills.
Know your achievements and celebrate them
So where is the balance between confidence or overconfident? How can you be realistic about your skills and abilities?
One step you can take is CareerHub’s self-assessment, and then looking through some of the other resources CareerHub offers to help you. Try using these resources to create a “self-pitch” that can effectively answer the question “Tell me about yourself” as it relates to the type of work you’re looking for. Never created a pitch before? Check out this article.
Practice answering questions
After determining what skills you have versus what skills you’re interviewer is looking for, all that’s left is to practice communicating this information in a quick, concise answer to interview questions.
Interviewers often ask certain kinds of questions: situational, problem solving, technical questions are just some of the types. These questions can demand a certain system to answer the question, which you can prepare for by checking out this handy summary at CareerHub.
This may seem like a lot of work to put into an interview that lasts 15 minutes, but remember: it’s not about the duration or quantity of your interviews, but their quality. Getting a co-op position is more than fulfilling an academic requirement for your degree, it can be a learning experience that informs your growth as a young professional.
So don’t worry; people get hired all the time.