Caleb Craft was a previous Graduate Administrative Associate at Engineering Career Services.
Just in case you missed part one of this blog, we looked at an interesting paradox. Most students say they are well aware that they need to research a company/position before a job interview, yet ECS’s number one complaint from recruiters during on-campus interviews is that “students did not seem to know enough about the company or the job.”
I really do believe that most engineering students are attempting to research companies before interviews, but I think there might be two possible explanations for why this research isn’t getting through to the employer: (a) students may not know how to research effectively or, more importantly, (b) students may not know how to clearly communicate this research to the employer. We focused on part (a) in my last blog post, so this week let’s talk about conveying that information during an interview.
Remember that the main goal of your company research should be to answer this question: “How do my goals/interests/values/qualifications fit into this company/position?” If you have actually thought through this question during research you will be prepared to communicate this information strategically in two ways: research-proving answers and research-proving questions.
For example, let’s say you are applying for an internship at Engineering Inc. and you notice on their website that one of their core values is “Sustainable Action.” In your interview you are asked why you wanted to be a chemical engineer. A research-proving answer could be, “I chose chemical engineering because I have always excelled at math and science, but I also wanted to do some good with my career. That’s actually one of the reasons I am interested in Engineering Inc. I noticed while reviewing your website that your company’s committed to sustainable engineering.”
Or perhaps you are asked where you see yourself in five years. How can you answer honestly, but also align your answer with what you have learned about the company? When speaking about your strengths or qualifications, provide answers that are reflective of you and the desired qualifications listed on the job description. Again, the goal of your interview is to convince the employer that you are the best fit for the company and position. You have to be looking through this lens during your research and every question that you answer!
Lastly, no interview is complete until you have your chance to ask questions of the employer as well. As you know, this is not a time to ask about salary or vacation time, but it is a good time to ask about factors that are important to you in a job search. That being said, your questions are another opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge through research-proving questions. Did the company just release a new product model or open a new facility? Asking questions about these things shows that you really do have a genuine interest in the company, and that you’ve done your homework.
So there it is, the big “secret” to interview success. It really boils down to knowing who you are, thinking about how you fit when you research companies and positions, and then seizing opportunities to communicate this fit during interview answers and questions. Pretty simple, right?
Looking to practice your interview skills? Take advantage of Impress, ECS’s mock interview software! Also located under the “Resources” tab on your CareerEngine account.
“Communication - the human connection - is the key to personal and career success.”
-Paul J. Meyer