The global pandemic has led to an insane amount of change in the past couple years; the Great Reshuffle being one of them. As we all reconsider our career paths and ambitions going into the new year, I am excited to share some incredible tips from Natalia Przech, Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft. Natalia is an MBA Graduate from McMaster University that mastered the art of interviewing, completing over 20+ interviews throughout her career for various ventures including internships, extracurriculars and new grad career opportunities. She is hopeful that this experience can help those who feel like they are going through the interview process alone!
Here is some guidance from Natalia (+ mini tips from me) to keep in mind for your next career pivot.
Prepare a strong introduction
The way you prepare for an interview is critical to your performance during the actual interview. For every interview, you will need to answer the classic “Tell me about yourself” question.
Avoid the generic “I am a student at University X and I am interested in…” or “I am a Business Analyst at Company X” because a hundred other people can say the same thing. You need to find a way to differentiate yourself.
Start with what you’re passionate about and share a compelling story behind your degree or current discipline. For example, talk about what got you into your current field
Touch on extracurricular projects that make you stand out as a leader or team member who drives results. Highlight your biggest accomplishment in a STAR format.
Craft a personal philosophy for yourself.tip #1
Don’t memorize your script
Although it may seem like a good idea to memorize what you want to say so that it goes perfectly, it’s not!
Once you forget a part of your script, you will freeze and it will become awkward. Rather than memorizing what you want to say word-for-word, try to remember the flow of your key points.
Eventually, you should be able to do your intro in your sleep (and it doesn’t have to be exactly the same every time). Just remember to let your personality come through, so that the interviewers can see who you are as a person.
Follow the rule of three, so that it is easy to remember.tip #2
Research the company thoroughly
When it comes down to why you are applying for a certain company or industry, avoid anything generic like “everyone seems to be in tech” or “everyone is always talking about it”.
You need to connect your passion (something about yourself) with the reason why you’re applying for the job (something about the company).
If you’re pivoting to a new industry, explain the gaps that you realized in your current or old role and bridge this experience to what you’re looking for in your next chapter.
You should also read the company’s annual reports to get an idea of the company’s direction. In the interview, you can mention how you noticed that the company is investing a lot of resources in X and why this excites you.
Look at other company resources like their D&I Report, Blog, News Site, etc… to learn more about the company.tip #3
Network with current employees
Try to network with employees and mention this in your interviews. This demonstrates that you put in the extra effort to reach out to someone and learn more about the company and its culture.
Getting these additional insights from someone on the inside also helps you craft better questions to ask during the interview.
Check this blog post out to figure out what kind of questions to ask in an informational coffee chat.tip #4
Record yourself while you practice
Although it is uncomfortable, recording yourself is a great way to identify mannerisms that you can work on. For example, you may shift around too much or look down too often—and these can distract the interviewer. Although these visual cues may not necessarily be deal breakers, you still want to show up as your best self.
Follow the tips in this blog post to enhance your presentation skills.tip #5
The end of the interview is your last chance to make a strong impression
There are 2 things you should avoid when an interviewer asks you if you have any questions:
- Saying “No, I don’t have any questions” because this shows a lack of interest in the role or company
- Asking generic questions that shows a lack of preparation and research
Remember that you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you. Take the time to prepare thoughtful questions based on your research that will help you evaluate if this is the right job for you.
Write down your questions in a notebook and bring it with you to the interview. Here are a couple good ones to keep in your back pocket:
- What is your favourite project that the team worked on in the past year?
- How do you measure success in this role or team?
Once all your questions are answered, remember to do your closing pitch and recap a couple key points that you took away from the interview and how you believe you are a great fit and are super excited for the next steps.
Thanks so much to Natalia for taking the time to share her tips based on her extensive interviewing experience! Hope you find this helpful in your next interview and please stay tuned for more interview tips and resources.