The Job Interview is usually the most stressful and difficult part of any engineering job. On the job stress falls a distant second to the interview required to get the job in the first place. So, what can we do to reduce the stress and impress our future boss at the interview? That’s where preparation comes in. This article is about job selection, employer investigation, pre-interviews and practice to show you’re prepared for the engineering job and not just the interview questions.
Engineering Career And Job Selection is the most important step in preparing for the interview. We must do a thorough job search to find careers and jobs that are an actual match for the skills, education and experience we have. You may be able to craft a deceptive resume that makes it look like you’re qualified where you aren’t, but how do you get past the interview, or worse, do the work once hired? There are skill sets you develop in certain fields that work in other jobs, as well. If you’re in doubt, get a professional career counselor to help you find your good matches. It will make all the difference when you’re interviewing if you already have a good match. As a side note…if you’re changing careers, take some classes to fill in gaps in your experience toward the new field. Of course, to make sure it’s a good match and to prepare for the interview, it’s a good idea to investigate the potential employers.
Employer Investigation is essential to prepare for an interview. What you’re looking for, here, is information about your employer that you can use to show your interest in their operation and to find ways you can contribute to that operation. Recently, a new head coach was chosen for the Sacramento Kings Basketball Team. The owners were impressed with the one candidate who came prepared, knowing players, strengths, weaknesses, recommended game strategies…he had a huge binder he had compiled on the Kings…he got the job. This is the kind of thing, though not to that extent, you should be looking for when investigating your employer. Where are they in the market with respect to their competitors? What are the similarities and differences between them and their competition? How can the experience and ideas you offer give them an edge over the competition? Even if all your investigation gets you is a way to show the employer you’re interested in the company and not just the paycheck, it will be well worth the effort.
Pre-Interview Interviews can be conducted with company employees (if it doesn’t interfere), competitors…even the suppliers and customers of the company (be careful about this one). The competitors can give you an idea of the wages and benefits that are standard for your work and the reputation of your potential employer. Who knows…if their competitors see someone ambitious enough to investigate the competition, they may offer you a position before you get to the interview. Employees of a company can give you great insight and may help you get hired. Once, when I asked an employee about the job, working conditions and company philosophy, he told his department supervisor to make sure I got hired because he hadn’t seen someone that ambitious in years. Suppliers and customers of the company can give you great insight if you’re tactful. Make sure to find out if there’s anything they feel would make it easier for them to do more business with your employer. If you get anything useful, make sure to share it at the interview because good companies are always looking for ways to improve…and hiring you just might be that way. The whole area of investigation and pre-interviews is to give you an edge the other applicants won’t have when it comes to the job interview questions.
Prepare To Answer And Ask Questions: Interviewing is a skill, like typing, and requires practice. It’s good to prepare and practice answering at least the most common job interview answers so you’re ready if they are asked. You can also get books with more complex questions tailored for your particular field. One way to have ready answers for all questions is to prepare a small notebook with copies of awards, college transcripts, job descriptions, appreciation and reference letters about you, etc. The whole idea is communication, so, if an award or certificate communicates your qualifications better than you can, show it…just don’t make any lengthy presentations. Also, make sure the notebook has a few blank pages for you to take notes. When your interviewer offers information or answers your question, make sure to take notes. This impresses to your interviewer that you’re intensely interested in the company and the job. If you’ve done your investigation well, you should have a few well-chosen questions in your notebook that will show what you’ve learned about the company and that you have an interest in the “big picture” of the industry the company operates in. Very few will go to the trouble of researching and developing questions and comments for the interview. But, at the interview, be prepared to gather information for your thank you letter, too.
The Thank You Letter can be more than a mere polite gesture as so many teach about job interviews. If you’ve done your preparation well, you’ll come out of the interview with enough information to nail the job down in the thank you letter. Your notes from the interview should contain the name(s) of the interviewer(s), address, time and date of interview, answers to your questions, and information the interviewer volunteered about the company…especially anything that was emphasized. Along with the normal thank you letter ya-da-ya-da, make sure your letter includes appreciation for the information (be specific…in quotes if possible) they gave you and why (specifically …company rep. or philosophy from information they gave you…but not money or benefits) you would be interested in considering a position there. After the hundreds of people they hire who never listen to what they say, your letter will show them you’re different and what they say matters to you.
Of course, no one can guarantee you’ll get every job you interview for. It usually takes several job interviews to get a good job, so, just regard the ones who didn’t hire you as practice. As long as you’re willing to prepare, you’ll find the position that’s a good fit for you and your employer. By doing the hard work others won’t; choosing the right field, investigating and conducting pre-interviews, practicing and collecting notes for the interview and in the interview, and being more specific in your thank you letter, you can set yourself apart from the rest as that rare, special candidate. Then, all you have to do is be that rare, special employee that keeps looking for work once they have the job.
To be sure for your success, practice Job Interview Answers is highly recommended.