Interview Tips and Tricks with Jean
Jean is a full-time Senior Technical Recruiter at eSimplicity with almost 3 years of experience in the talent acquisition and human resource management field. While her confidence and skill set were built over time, she began the interview process nervous like everyone else. She enlightened us with some of the most important tools to bring with you to an interview: confidence, preparedness, passion, honesty, and a willingness to learn.
What do you personally do before an interview? What has helped calm your nerves in the past that you would recommend others to do?
Back in college, I found myself struggling with interviews. When I was a student, I was unsure of myself, but I would come prepared by researching the company, their culture, the role I had applied for, and how that role fits into the greater organization. I’d take this information and try to figure out what questions my interviewers might ask. I was generally very anxious and nervous. Over time, I’ve become better at reassuring myself that I am qualified for the role and walk into interviews more confident, which I would encourage others to do as well. I also believe in praying before interviews because I think that it can bring people inner peace and comfort.
What are some ways you recommend preparing for an interview?
I always suggest that anyone preparing for an interview, do whatever they can to learn about the company. It’s important that you want the company to feel as if they are not just another company you’re interviewing with, but one you’re very interested in working with. You want to understand the organization’s growth, its challenges, and the stakeholders you’ll be working with most closely. Understanding the general job description is different than actually studying what you are interviewing for. Look at the skills and tasks required and think about how you’ve done that in the past and how your unique experience could improve or add to what the company is already doing. Also, I recommend roleplaying with another person. For example, a mock interview is very helpful to organize your thoughts and practice how an interview may go.
“A good analogy for this would be SAT testing. You want to take a practice test prior to your real SAT test to put yourself in the same environment as if it were the real deal.”
The same goes for mock interviews and you can learn what you need to brush up on or polish getting your nerves out before it truly matters.
What is your worst interview experience and what did you learn from it?
My first job interview was definitely the worst that I ever had. I was interviewing for a retail job at a privately held grocery store chain similar to Whole Foods. Since this was my first interview, I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. I ended up not doing well in the interview, but somehow still got the job. The experience of being put on the spot though with some of their questions really made me fear walking into a situation like that again. Moving forward, I make sure to spend at least 4–5 hours preparing for an important interview and I suggest that others do the same.
If you had to give your top 3 interview tips and tricks, what would they be?
1: Prep, prep, prep. You do not want to go into an interview unprepared. You want to be able to tie everything together with your experiences, your skills, what you can learn, and contribute to the organization’s strategic goals. You also want to have stories prepared of times you’ve exemplified specific values or experiences in the past.
2: Be honest and confident. If you don’t know how to do something or have intermediate or beginner skills or exposure to something, say that. You do not want to oversell yourself or fall short of the expectations after you get the job.
3: Be yourself and show the passion you have for what you do and the industry you’re in. Emphasize that even if you do not know something, that you’re still willing to learn. Know your story, your why, why you love what you do and why you want to work for whatever company it is you’re interviewing with.
In the interviews you have conducted, what are some things you remember that people either did well and should continue doing, or some things that people could improve on?
My favorite people to interview are definitely the people that show their passion for what they do. For example, If a candidate is interviewing for a business analyst role, it’s important that I understand they have good soft skills and excellent communication skills. What sets the good from the great apart, though, is when they talk about their responsibilities and you can feel that they are truly passionate about what they do and how they are contributing to a greater purpose and really making an impact. I interview for a lot of technical roles but do not have the technical skills to be able to assess their level of competency. I’m largely looking at whether candidates are a culture fit for the organization and if their skills will complement those of whoever else is on the team. The people we hire at eSimplicity have to be passionate about what they do and the impact we’re all striving to create together.
On the flip side of this, my biggest pet peeve in interviewing people is when they give extremely brief answers, especially to open-ended questions. I always want candidates to be succinct and concise in their answers but when I ask an open-ended question and you only give me a sentence or two, it makes me believe you aren’t really that interested or maybe you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Are there any red flags you look for as an interviewer that automatically discounts the person getting interviewed?
I do, in the IT world, many candidates talk about what they did specifically on a project, but they aren’t able to speak to the larger goals of the project or the business value. Every person that works on a project should be able to talk about the direct impact of that project and the bigger picture. Also, it’s a red flag to me when people don’t know much about eSimplicity and what we do or do not show passion in their responses. This makes me, as the interviewer, feel that they are disinterested and not trying to put their best foot forward.
If you had to rank the most important to least important for choosing between candidates, would you choose someone that was a better fit for the role itself, or the company as a whole?
I would choose someone that was a better fit for the company. The whole company is like a machine and if one part doesn’t work well, the entire machine is affected. We at eSimplicity don’t care where you went to school, what your religion, sex, or age is. We care that you’re a culture fit, that you’re passionate about what you do, that you’re capable of growing and learning with us as an organization, and of course that you can meet the minimum requirements of the role and represent us well. There are many qualified candidates that can meet the basic minimum qualifications for the job, but it is difficult to find a person that matches our values and culture. Sometimes it’s also worth taking a chance on someone, if they match what we’re looking for in terms of values and culture and are missing experience with one technical tool, for instance, we believe that the skillset can be taught.
Interested in working with us? Take a look at our current job opportunities here: https://jobs.lever.co/esimplicity