During my first seeking semester I realized that balancing job applications with school work was a whole new monster! Throw into the mix multiple mid-week Co-op interviews, and my semester was totally getting out of hand. Let’s face it, during the school year you don’t have all the time in the world to prep for each interview, but I made sure to make a lasting impression.
How do you do this? Do not let your interview be one sided! By this I mean, instead of answering question after question, the more questions you have, the more control you have during the interview and the more confident you appear to the interviewers.
1. Use an Interview to Find Out What Is Great About You
Use your questions to learn why they selected you for an interview. You are already in the door, so they must have seen something they liked. Find out what that was and expand on that during your interview. I would ask my panel what stood out on my application that convinced them to invite me for an interview. From this you can learn what is important and marketable for your particular job industry. Make sure to use this information to later adapt your cover letters and resume making them even more polished for the industry you are looking to work in.
2. Display Your Insightfulness With Just One Question
For jobs in science or research, if you are up to date on current publications that are relevant to the new job, you are already showing foresight and self-directedness. If you don’t have time for all that prep, a secondary option is to look up some common issues in the field and write down a few questions that you can strategically ask your interviewers. For example, when I interviewed at Stem Cell Technologies for a lab assistant position in developing pulmonary stem cell products, I made sure to look at some limitations that research was facing in the area. During my interview I then asked how the product I would be working on would overcome those limitations. My interviewers were really impressed! These questions show the panel that you are interested and already invested in what they do, and it will demonstrate that you are a prime candidate for the job.
This strategy can be transferred to any field. You do not have to know everything about the company you’re interviewing for, but asking a few well thought out questions can really make you shine!
3. Finishing Off the Interview With Depth
Lastly, finish your interview with some questions that showcase your interest and perceptiveness. During the interview you should be writing down some questions you have about the job. These can be specific or broad but they will show the interviewers that you have been paying attention and are a critical thinker. Asking things like: what are the the long and short term goals of the company? Are there opportunities to get involved with the company outside of work hours? Do you have Co-op students return for positions after they graduate? How would you describe the work culture here?
As long as you’re asking smart questions, you are keeping on top of the conversation and making a statement. You are an intelligent, confident person who is really interested in getting that job and you will definitely make an impact on your interviewers that could lead to securing your next Co-op!