How to Have Your Best Interview Ever
The first thing employers look for, according to Chris Skorlinski, is a “great-looking resume.” He describes the ultimate resume as having the following ingredients: unique skills and qualifications and social skills. Skorlinski has worked for Microsoft for the past 20 years.
As a Support Escalation Engineer at the Microsoft Charlotte, N.C., office, he gets “to rescue people” from computer crises and hire new employees. On Feb. 20, he talked with CSU students about how to have “Your Best Interview Ever.”
It all starts with preparation. He suggests that job candidates do their research before the interview.
“Understanding more about the company really helps during the interview,” he says. “Know the position.” He warns that employers perform Internet searches of potential candidates. “What does your public profile say about you? We’re looking at it.”
Understand that nerves happen. “What are you going to do to relax before that interview? Well, how do you prepare for finals?” Do what calms you down so you can act professionally during the interview.
Prepare a well-rounded resume.
“You want everything on there, social and technical,” he says. “Another thing we’re looking for in a good-looking resume is gaps, where someone has left a school or a job. Instead of leaving those gaps, fill them with volunteering and other community-building activities.”
Skorlinski is an advocate of volunteering. He often volunteers while on vacation because he likes to have adventures. To students he says, “It’s not just about sitting in class and getting a perfect score … building a resume with volunteer service shows that you’re not all about you but giving back.”
“Make each new adventure a learning opportunity.” And put that on your resume. Be ready to elaborate on your resume. “Can you discuss in detail every position and the role you played? Be prepared for that.”
He says he once went over with an interviewee every bullet point on his resume. Of course, your best interview doesn’t stop at a resume.“Employers are looking for how you present yourself,” he says. “Prepare for the Tell Me Something about Yourself question. Practice a two-minute presentation of yourself. Tell them who you are, what you have accomplished in the past and what you hope to accomplish in the future.”
Skorlinski also offered tips on preparing for the different types of interviews. Phone interviews require special care.
- Double-check the time zone so you don’t call at Pacific time three hours early.
- Check your coverage and battery.
- Find a professional environment in which to talk.
- Answer with your name, and smile while talking.
“Slow it down a bit,” he adds, so your interviewer can hear you clearly.
Skype interviews also require precaution. Check your camera angle and lighting beforehand. He shared a time when he had the wrong camera turned on. The interviewee could only see his desk and asked, “So, is that your coffee cup?”
For a face-to-face offsite interview, dress professionally, arrive early to secure a quiet table, and turn off your phone. “Vibrate is not off,” he adds. Make eye contact and give a firm handshake. “It’s amazing how important that [handshake] is. So practice.”
For an onsite interview, even if the company has a casual environment, dress in business professional style. “Don’t interrupt or jump in with an answer even if you know you know the answer. It’s okay to be excited but be a little reserved,” he suggests.
Be careful about the negatives. “Never talk bad about a past job,” he warns. “You might as well walk out — interview’s over.” How do you handle a question you don’t know the answer to? Be honest. Skorlinski suggests, “Say something like ‘Great question. I’m not aware of that technology.When we’re done here, I’m going to take a look at that.’”
Finally, prepare to become the interviewer. “Prepare for the ‘Do you have any questions for me?’ question,” he says. “We ask that. Remember that you’re also interviewing the company. Ask ‘What challenges are you facing? Can you describe a typical workday?’”
Those are the kind of questions you are going to want answers to when you’re trying to decide if you and your potential employer will be a good match.