The Job Interview

What follows are a collection of observation on being interviewed for a job, from someone who has been on both sides of the interview. Don’t necessarily take them as a whole, but do take them with a grain of salt.

Have some idea of what you’re worth. Both in the context of the position you’re applying for and in the larger job market.

Know why you want the job.

Know what the company does and have at least some idea of the purpose of the position. Definitely demonstrate that you’ve done this research and have this knowledge in the interview when given the opportunity, especially if/when you’re asked if you have any questions.

Always ask questions. Always come into the interview with questions to ask. It is perfectly acceptable to ask your interviewers the same questions they asked you.

Be wary of using the interview to rehash your resume or exquisitely detail your job history. I’ve witnessed interviews where people in positions to make decisions never bothered to read anything and expected the prospective candidate to outline their resume in the interview. I’ve also witnessed interviews where everyone in the room had reviewed the resume and going back over it was a waste of valuable time better spent on other topics. It’s likely the best use of this time to detail the strengths inherent in your background.

Be honest about your weaknesses and be careful to explain what you’ve done to improve these weaknesses. Treat the perennial “greatest weakness” question as an opportunity to showcase growth, both in the past and in the future.

Try not to challenge existing paradigms/processes/techniques outright. I’ve definitely been in interviews where it seemed some specific aspect of some outlined technical process was implemented in very distressing ways. No one ever seemed pleased when I’d point these things out, potentially as a weakness. It’s better treated as an opportunity to ask questions and to try to understand the process/reason behind their implementation.

Usually I keep a handful of questions ready to use when given the opportunity. They might include:

  • How has this position evolved since it was created?
  • What have past employees done to succeed in this position?
  • What are the top priorities for the person in this position in the next 3 months?
  • What would you expect to be accomplished in the first 3 months?
  • What are the top challenges that the person filling this position will face?
  • In what ways does the person in this position collaborate with their manager/staff?
  • Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?
  • Do you have any concerns about my ability to do this job well?
  • How do you plan to deal with X?
  • What drives results for the company?
  • What thing are you most proud of?
  • What makes you happy to come to work?