Congratulations, you secured an interview! You share the news with some friends and family. You explain that it’s a pandemic-edition interview, so it’s all online — maybe it’ll be easier this way. They tell you you’ll nail this. You run a quick Google search around interview tips — it tells you to research the company and go in with some questions prepared. You’re now ready to ask about the company’s CSR initiatives to signal to them that you visited their website. You even run a LinkedIn search around the interviewers and prepare questions to ask them about their achievements — can’t hurt to make them feel good, right?
Here’s why the above may not work. You’re focusing on what you think may be impressive, and not on your unique superpowers. The former is what all interviewees do — the latter is what is unique to you. Use this to your advantage. Bet on your superpowers.
Here are three broad suggestions as you prepare for your next interview(s):
The first step to preparing for interviews comes much before the invite. By aiming for the right things, you can ensure that you are pursuing something that is meaningful, important and exciting for you. If you find meaning in your work, if you are excited about the role and the organization, you will be far more likely to excel than otherwise. The internal conversations that you need to have with yourself before an interview are often far more important than the Google searches on interview tips.
Before you apply, ask some Socratic questions. Why are you interested in this organization? What is exciting about the role? Why is this important to you? Half the battle lies in understanding what you value and in pursuing what you are excited about.
If you have clarity on what you want, and why you want it, you will be much better equipped to excel in the interview process. In the long run, you’ll be able to grow and excel in roles that fit well with your superpowers and in organizations that align with your value system.
Once you have that internal clarity, the next step then is to keep it real — instead of portraying yourself as someone who made all the right decisions, be candid in sharing your experiences, get comfortable with being vulnerable in sharing your learnings, and speak from your heart. This tells the interviewer that you think deeply and are aware that you’re not the best thing that ever happened to the world, but are eager to get there.
Run your research, not for the sake of conveying to the interviewer that you checked that box but to feed your curiosity around the organization. If this does not come naturally, I would suggest revisiting the above step to ask if you’re truly passionate about the role and the organization in the first place.
What does the organization do? What is their mission and value addition to society? What are their values and culture? What is their current product? If possible, try it out and go the extra mile. Many of our early teammates at Airlift travelled around the city on Airlift buses before their interviews as preparation. More recently, strong candidates tried Airlift Express and other options to go deep on exploring the current product. This results in meaningful insights, thoughtful discussion and an authentic indication of clear effort which is appreciated regardless of the end outcome.
As a rule of thumb, you should avoid researching or preparing questions to tell the interviewer something — instead, your questions should reflect a sincere curiosity.
Running through selection processes can be stressful. Some great interviews will still not work out. Give it your best, ask for feedback and try to learn from the experience, but don’t let ‘unsuccessful’ interviews put you down. Recruitment processes are typically imperfect, candidate pools can be incredibly competitive, or nerves may kick in during the interview. Ten years from now, one selection process may not matter much — what will matter is that you keep going for it, learning from it and doing your best.
We hope that the above is helpful to you. If you have feedback or suggestions for more blog posts for us to publish, please feel free to drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.