Cassidy Williams

Software Engineer in Chicago

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How to Ace an Interview


Hey cutie. Let’s talk interviews. I’ve had what’s felt like a billion interviews over the past several years, for everything from leadership positions to internships to jobs to scholarships. So, I thought I’d give you some advice based on what I’ve learned.

Right now.

Study the usual interview questions, and fit in your own experiences.

All you have to do here is go on the internet and search, “common interview questions.” Everything from “describe a time when you worked on a team” to “what was the most fun presentation you’ve ever had to plan?” is asked to everyone, engineers and business majors alike. Make sure you follow STAR: Situation (what was the situation you were in), Task (what was your job, or task, to tackle the situation), Action (what were the actions to ultimately took), and Results (what were the responses you received and the results you achieved)! Now, if you’re thinking about technical questions (which I’m a computer science chick too, I get it), my only advice here is to talk a LOT. Too many engineers just go up to the white board and start coding then and there without explaining what they’re doing. Whenever I’ve interviewed with someone, I stay sitting and talk about the problem with the interviewer. When you do it that way, they can see where you’re going with your thought process when you start writing on the board. And if you change what you’re thinking, turn around, away from the board, and tell the interviewer your thought process again. The thought process is what these companies are looking for, not just correct code. It’s better to have a good thought process and bad code than good code and a bad thought process.

Know your story well.

Instead of reflecting all the time on interview questions and rehearsing answers, try reflecting on your school and career chronology until now! Think about how you got started in your field, struggles you overcame, what you’ve learned over the years, where and how you developed certain skills, what you’re most proud of, etc. When you know your story, you can answer almost any question about anything because of your personal experiences and what you know already about yourself.

Follow the PIE.

I mean this in both senses of the word. Pie is delicious. BUT, what I really mean is, the best interviewees are the ones who are Positive, Interested, and Engaged in the interview conversations. If you keep worrying about the next question and saying things perfectly, you might forget to have your positive game face showing. Just remember to smile! If you look like you’re happy to be there, they’ll be more happy to interview you.

Consider what the company (or organization or school, whatever) wants.

When you’re at the career fair, ask companies what they look for, and what their culture is like. You don’t want to think, “oh yeah I’ll just keep practicing, if I know what I’m talking about and can show it, they’ll hire me.” Yes and no. You do want to show them that you know what you’re talking about. But, they also want to feel that you are likable, and that you’ll fit in at the company! Focus more on demonstrating aptitude while being likable rather than just spitting out perfectly crafted answers. Laugh with them, relax a bit, and let them see your personality! I mean, I like you, so why wouldn’t they? You personality is one of your skill sets that people often don’t count. Believe me, it counts for a lot.

Breathe.

You’re going to rock this! Just know that if it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world, and if it does, that’s even better. Have FUN and good luck!

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