For those of you that might not know, Lightning Round is the period at the end of seeking semester where students that have not been placed in co-op jobs are given one last chance for the semester to get one. Your advisor looks at your qualifications and if a job comes up that you are qualified for, they will email you asking if you would like to apply for the position. The advisor would only email a select number of people for this position, making the jobs go quickly.
It was Lightning Round, and I had already given up on ever getting a job. School is starting, and there are fewer jobs as time passes. I’m not getting a job this semester. It had been a long time since my last job interview, and I had no hope for another. It wasn’t until the beginning of the semester where I was shortlisted for two interviews that week! I was excited, and immediately started my research for my first job interview during the Lightning Round.
For some reason, it took me two job interviews to realize I should use my family’s GPS to find the location of the interview. Yes, I felt very silly to realize this so late! But, I was glad I realized this because this location was particularly confusing to find. This time though, I was not panicking because once again I allowed myself a lot of time to find the place. I arrived very early, and reviewed the information I had written down about the company on cue cards.
When I walked to the building, I was greeted (like usual), but by an exceptionally smiley secretary. She told me that my interviewer would be with me in a moment. I looked around and noticed a strange rabbit statue, and spotted a chair to awkwardly sit in the lobby area. My interviewer came out and took me to an office. As we walked to the office she asked me if I found the place okay, and I joked “thanks to GPS”. She smiled, and she invited me to sit. She seemed very to-the-point, and I noticed that even with her style of interview. Her first question was “What do you know about our company?”. Luckily I had done my research and gave her a solid answer. I noticed that she made a little and discreet check mark by the question.
She continued to ask questions, and I continued to get check marks, so I was feeling pretty good about myself. This was until she asked me “What is your biggest pet peeve”? This question is something I was not prepared for. I had prepared for its variation: “What is your biggest weakness?” but not “pet peeve”. I hesitantly answered truthfully, and I noticed she put a dash by the question instead of her usual check mark. I tensed up and started thinking about my answer, and was worrying about it. Was that the wrong answer?
She then told me that another person wanted to interview me, so she took me to his office and I waited as she went to get him. (He was getting coffee in the lunchroom!) When we sat down, he seemed very relaxed, and asked me questions without a paper in front of him. When I expressed an interest in reading, he even asked me if I read Twilight, and proceeded he told me that he read the first book! I certainly felt like I could be comfortable with him, especially after admitting something like that! He asked me if I had any questions for him, and when I asked him about the company, it seemed like he was trying to sell ME the company. This was a definite change from what I was used to since I was always the one trying to sell my skills, and I felt like that I was the only person being evaluated. This is when I realized that, in an interview, the interviewer was trying to sell the company as a good place to work.
Afterwards, my initial interviewer showed me where my desk would be if I were hired. She then told me that she will let me know very soon if they will hire me or not. I left, very worried about the ‘pet peeve’ question, and I went and bought some lunch. As I sat with my burrito, I reflected on what happened. I realized that perhaps the pet peeve question was to see how well I would fit with the company. For instance, when she asked me what my pet peeve was, and if I answered “noisy environments,” perhaps the company's working environment was noisy, then I might not like working for the company or may not be as productive if I were in a quieter office. I then thought of my discussion about the book Twilight with the second interviewer. Maybe he just wanted to see if I was personable, and would get along with other people there. After replaying the interview in my head several times, I nervously bit into my burrito.
Later on, I found out all that nervousness was unnecessary; they called me that afternoon with a job offer! I was very excited! She left me a voice mail and I played it for everyone that would listen! I had finally done it! I had a job offer!
The biggest thing I learned from this interview is that, the interviewer is not simply looking at your skills, but wanting to see if you would be happy with their work environment and culture. When you are being interviewed, you are not simply interviewed for your qualifications, you are being interviewed for how well you would fit within the organization.
It felt pretty good to finally have someone who wanted to hire me, and I felt even better because this was a job I could see myself doing, and I could see myself working with these people. My advisor contacted me, and encouraged me to go to my other interview that I was scheduled for, just to compare the two jobs. I listened to my advisor, and went to my next interview a couple days later… Read about my fourth job interview experience and see which position I ended up taking!
Beyond the Blog
Be sure to check out Round 2 of Natalie's Co-op Job Search.