Meet Taylor. Taylor is 19 years old and dropped out of college after one semester. He’s currently interviewing with 3 companies located in Chicago, San Diego, and New York City. He’s interviewing up against people 3+ years older than him for positions that, on paper, require a 4-year degree.
How is he able to compete?
His personal brand and work experience definitely help, but when push comes to shove, the way he presents himself in an interview is what makes the difference. He’s able to sit in front of business owners and show them why he’s as valuable (or more valuable) than the other candidates who spent 4 years in college.
An interview is by far the most important part of the hiring process. It gives the company a chance to get a live preview of who you actually are. They get a chance to test out what it’s like to interact with you, something that they’ll be doing a lot of if you work for their company. It also gives you the chance to prove why you’re more than just your resume.
I asked the rest of the Praxis community for their best interview tips. Here’s some of what they had to say:
Madison Kanna said: “Have fun with it! Yesterday I was doing a coding interview for some part-time work. Right after I was done coding and I switched my screen back to my face, light was coming through my window and it looked like I was surrounded by a rainbow. My interviewer said, “Uh, it’s hard to see you all of a sudden, there’s a sort of rainbow light”. For some reason I said, “Yeah, I actually programmed that rainbow. Mad skills.” And my interviewer cracked up. Before Praxis I would’ve been way too nervous/serious to joke a bit. Having fun with it makes the whole experience better.”
Austin Brown said: “Just standing instead of sitting helped me a lot. I was more loose and comfortable.”
Alexandra Woodfin said: “Run in place for at least a minute, flip my hair, and drink the coldest glass of water I can tolerate right before the call. Makes me feel calmer and more alert.”
Isaac Morehouse said: “Decide to have fun and enjoy the interview.”
Derek Magill said:
- “Have fun, like Isaac said. Just be a cool person to work with. All the career advisors tell you to be stodgy and boring and overly professional. You’re dealing with people! They want to work with other people! Take some risks and be interested and interesting.
- Tell them what you’re going to do for them. Value propositions apply in the interview just as they do anywhere else.
- Control the conversation. Don’t be reactive to their questions, give them info that directs them to the kind of questions you want them to ask. If you’re passive and just wait for them to read off a list of questions, you’re going to have a bad time.
- Jump on the phone with someone before for 5-10 minutes and have a convo. It’ll warm you up mentally.”
Jackson Sullivan said: “They want you to get the job as much as you want you to get the job. Interviewing dozens of people isn’t fun! They’re hoping you’re the right one as much as you are.”
Sarah Iddings said: “Don’t just think up questions to ask them. Write your questions down! It’s too easy to forget in the moment what you meant to say. Plus, I think it shows some level of organization if you come prepared with your questions written up.”
Here are some of mine:
Don’t use fluffy words without backing them up.
Tell stories and back up your claims with examples. Everybody can say they’re hard-working, good with people, determined, self-motivated. But what have you done that demonstrates these traits? Telling a story about a time when you worked hard is way more impressive than just saying you work hard and making them trust you without any context.
Do your research.
Look at their website, look at competitors’ websites, look at the LinkedIn of your interviewer, and come up with some challenging questions. If you can find the answer to your question on their website, it’s not a good question. Going into the interview, you should have a fairly extensive understanding of what the company does, where they’re lacking, and what specifically you can do to help them.
Be genuinely curious.
Go into the interview as if you’re consulting the company. Don’t try to impress them by saying the right things, be genuinely curious about where they need help. Be personable and have a real conversation with them. Ask about more than the job. Find out about the interviewer’s personal story, the company culture, and what they like to do for fun.