One of the things almost every engineer has to go through at least once in their career is the job interview. But for all their importance and the stress that go with interviews, the art and craft of interviewing well can be surprisingly easy to master.
Go in Prepared
Your interview starts well before you enter the room where it’s being held. The best way to ace on your interview is to go in prepared, and the best way to prepare is by being thorough and paying a lot of attention to detail.
You should prepare your clothes and items you will bring with you to the interview beforehand. You should also do as much research as you can about the company and the position you’re applying for. Take note of the skills that are demanded, and the company values.
The interview is about answering questions, and that’s another segment you should prepare. Interviewers like to ask trick questions, so you might want to look up some examples. You can also expect to be asked problem-solving questions, so make sure you go in with a sharp mind.
Leave a Great Impression
First impressions matter a lot. And even though you’ll have the time to leave more than just a quick first impression during the interview, you should start presenting your best self right off the bat.
Good eye contact, a friendly smile, and a handshake are the three things that will help you make a good first impression. You want to appear honest, trustworthy, and reliable, the kind of person that’s aware of their own competence.
You should use the interview itself to solidify that impression. You shouldn’t talk too much, you shouldn’t rush into giving answers, and you should never speak about things you know nothing about. Stay calm, collected, and when something you’re not sure about comes up, don’t be afraid to say you don’t know.
As an engineer, you’re expected to be inquisitive, especially if it helps you give better and more relevant answers to the interviewer’s question. You should also ask questions that demonstrate that you researched the company. However, stay away from asking about the salary.
Follow Up and Learn
When the interview is done, remember that you need to keep the same confident attitude until you’re out of the room. A weak handshake after the interview can put a serious dent into the impression you’ve worked so hard to leave. So stay vigilant until you’re clear.
The most important post-interview component is to follow up with the interviewer. There are a few ways you can do this, but probably the most widespread and most accepted is sending a thank you note. Email works best for thank you notes, and you should send one within 24 hours of the interview.
Finally, you should take time to learn from your interview. Think about the things that worked well, and the things you need to improve. Best case scenario is that your first interview lands you your dream job. But most of us aren’t that lucky. The good news is that, if you take time to reflect on your interviewing experience, you’ll get better at interviewing with each one you have.