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The view from the other side of the interview desk, Part I

Engineering Career Services is excited to present guest writer, Carmen LaTorre who is an Advanced Engineer with Owens Corning. This blog will be a two part series, with the first part focusing on the Interviewee and the second part on the Interviewer...

You sit in the ECS waiting area in your formal business attire. One foot nervously taps the floor. You run through your notes and try to organize your thoughts one last time. You’ve anticipated every question and memorized every accomplishment. You’re ready to show why you’re the best candidate for the job. Suddenly you hear the recruiter call your name…it’s time to interview!

I’ve had the privilege to be on both sides of the interview desk at Ohio State University, first as a BS and MS student seeking mechanical engineering internships and full-time positions, and now as an interviewer for Owens Corning for the past 3 years. The views are similar in some ways and very, very different in others. In the following paragraphs, I would like to share with you some of my learnings during the interview process which I believe helped me to obtain job offers, and also what traits and qualities I look for now as I try to bring new members into my organization.

Side of the Desk #1: The Interviewee
You may be interviewing for jobs in manufacturing, research & development, consulting, technical sales, or most likely a combination of these. Regardless of the specific job type, here are five key learnings from my experiences as an interviewee:

1. Practice, practice, and then practice some more - As is the case with most things, the key to excelling at interviewing is…you guessed it….practice being interviewed! Anticipate questions ahead of time or research commonly asked questions, and write out your answers to those questions on paper. Practice saying the answer out loud and ending on a positive note. On the day of your interview, review your answers one last time. Trust me – your level of preparation comes out loud and clear to your interviewer.
2. Be honest (to both your prospective employer and to yourself) – Let’s be realistic…If you know a job is not right for you or that you could not ever be happy with a given position, do not convey the opposite via false promises in the interview. For instance, if you hate traveling or know that greater than 10% travel during the week will not work for you, do not tell your interviewer that his/her job opening with 50% travel is “the perfect match for your career interests.” This helps no one and only increases the chances that you will be set up for future disconnects and clashes with your employer early on.
3. Find the link -- Do your research to find out exactly why you and your prospective employer are a great match. For instance, when I interviewed with Owens Corning, I was sure to bring up the fact that the research I performed during graduate school was applicable to their needs, that I was looking for opportunities in the central Ohio area (which they had), and that their rotational development program met my desires for a variety of job experiences within the first few years of my career. Whatever your reasons, make sure they come out in the interview and that you showcase that link as an advantage over other candidates.
4. Use the tools available to you – The variety of tools that the ECS office makes available to students is top notch. You’ve already paid money to register, so take full advantage of all the things that come with your registration. Your job search will be greatly enhanced because of it.
5. Find the balance – There are times when it’s good to show your independence and accountability on projects, and other times when it’s good to show that you have worked successfully on teams to reach a goal. As both are generally critical in engineering, practice striking a balance between the two extremes which leaves the interviewer with the impression that you are both accountable and teamwork proficient.

"Success doesn't come to you…you go to it."
-Marva Collins

Authored by an ECS guest.