How to Interview
So it’s interview season! (Well, when is it not??) I recall that last year I didn’t really start looking for internships until Feb/March, and it seems like a lot of this year’s first-years are following the same trends.
Now, this might sound a little weird, but you’ll have to excuse me since I am only a relative newcomer to the tech world– but over the past few months, I’ve realized that I really lucked out when I got my internship and subsequent job offer. Not only do I think I’m with a great company, a LOT of other people think the same thing! As a result, I’ve been getting a lot of requests to talk to people either looking for an internship or a job with VMware.
And as such, I have realized that not everyone approaches this process in the same way. Now, I’m not saying I’m a perfect role model, since I am definitely awkward. I talk really quickly about not a whole lot when I get nervous, I mumble, and I have a bad habit of opening my mouth and saying something different than what I was thinking. Uh, yeah. That’s why I like blogging and emailing. MUCH easier to avoid weird conversations through print. ANYWAY, I’ve compiled my (unofficial) list of interview do’s and don’ts. Have I missed any?
DO send a thank-you note/email! It is a gesture of respect and is definitely appreciated.
DO show up on time. See above.
DO come prepared with questions. The worst possible question to hear is “I’d love more insights.” OK great. But now I have absolutely no idea where to start.
A great way to start off an info. interview is to begin with a brief overview of your background. This is especially useful if I haven’t met you before.
DO feel free to connect with me through LinkedIN– but only AFTER we’ve spoken. (And of course, don’t forget to personalize your request– this should go without saying).
Don’t show up late to the interview/call. 5 minutes– I’ll let it slide. 15 minutes– not so much.
Please do your homework before your interviews. That translates to don’t email me the night before your interview because you ‘just’ realized I work for the company. It makes you look underprepared.
Don’t ask for special favors, especially if you don’t know me. I have no problem talking to people and answering their questions; I also have no problem with the concept of trading on your connections. That’s what they’re for, after all! But I can’t and won’t “endorse” someone over another candidate, particularly when I don’t know that person beyond a few questions they asked me over coffee at Starbucks.
Don’t expect to get a response back right away from HR or the hiring manager. We get really caught up in the idea that everything is real-time, especially given the now now now culture propagated by Facebook and Twitter. But companies move differently, and in all likelihood it will take longer than a day to get back to you.
Don’t agressively pursue multiple conversations with me if you have nothing new to ask or talk about. My time, like yours, is valuable and limited.
Please don’t ask me about salary information. First of all, I honestly don’t remember and I’m not going to go dig through my financial statements to give you a number. Second, that’s sensitive information and in most situations it’s probably not the best idea to directly ask someone for the amount they made. Third, I might not want to tell you, especially in a public setting, how much I made, given that other people are listening. Lastly, it should be enough that I told you the position is well-paid. Leave it at that. P.S. YOU DON’T HAVE THE JOB YET. Calm down!
Don’t repeat your interview answers to me word for word. A, I don’t care. B, you didn’t answer the question all that great.
If I have already spoken with you several times in person, on the phone, AND by email, there’s probably not too much left for me to tell you. And if I am very clearly busy doing something else, don’t latch on to me before I can even get my coat off– if it looks like I’m busy, that means I’m probably busy.
Don’t nod your head while I”m talking and then PROCEED TO ASK ME THE SAME QUESTION THREE TIMES!!! If you’re clearly not listening to me then why am I wasting my time sitting here and talking to you? Not only is this very frustrating, it’s incredibly disrespectful.