Interview Do’s and Don’ts

So you sent in your resumé, wrote a cover letter, answered some written questions, and finally landed an interview – but what’s next? 

Heading into an interview can seem daunting, so to help you nail that next interview, our team has compiled a list of overall Do’s and Don’ts! Here are the three most important steps guaranteed to impress the person across the table: 

  1. Prepare your answers in advance. 

When we think of typical interview questions, a lot of them may seem similar and generic. Why are you applying for this position? What skills can you bring to the table? How do you deal with conflict? 

This is because regardless of the industry you are interviewing for, interviewers will always ask a standard set questions to learn about the applicant’s motive, skills, and experience. Interviewers are seeking applicants who have passion as their motivation for applying, skills that are relevant to the position they are applying for, and experience to back up the skills they can bring to the company. So before entering any interview, consider: what are your motives, skills, and experiences, and how does that specifically play into their mission statement or the job description? Let’s do a run-through. 

Ben is a grade 9 student applying for the position of logistics officer at PuMP. After sending out over a hundred cold emails, he finally found a professor willing to take him on in his life science lab. Ben is also involved in his school’s student council as a grade representative. How should Ben prepare for his interview? 

Ben can present his motive as wanting to increase the accessibility of health science opportunities after having experienced the lack of opportunities himself. He can highlight his most valuable skill as communication; his experience is successfully cold-emailing professors and being a grade representative on student council. By highlighting these points, Ben presents a cohesive and relevant skill set that makes it easy for the recruiter to identify how Ben can be an asset to the PuMP team. 

  1. Research the company/organization. 

Chances are that if you made it to the interview stage, you’ve already passed the organization’s technical screening and demonstrated through your written application that you possess the basic skills to work on their team – so why are they interviewing you? 

Skills and experience are futile without passion for the organization. Interviewers want to see applicants who are committed to using their skills to advance their mission statement or company efficiency. One of the key distinguishing factors of an applicant’s passion is how well they know the organization or business. Therefore on top of preparing answers about your skill set, it’s equally important to do your homework on the organization or company you are applying to join. An individual who truly resonates with the organization’s vision will be genuinely interested in their work, so be sure to put in the time to research through their website and social media to better understand their past events, organizational structure, core values, and goals moving forward. 

However, how can you demonstrate to a recruiter that you’ve done your research? Find ways to weave it into your interview naturally! If Ben hopes to join PuMP to increase transparency surrounding high school research opportunities, he can talk about what he learned from PuMP’s student researcher feature series, BioVlogs, which he would have learned about through perusing PuMP’s Instagram page. If asked what new ideas he would want to implement at PuMP, Ben can reference past events and how he hopes to build on them. Showing your interviewer you’ve done your research is one of the best ways to stand out from other applicants, as it demonstrates that you have the prerequisite knowledge to jump right into your new role and that you understand the nature of the tasks expected from you.

  1. Come with questions prepared. 

The most memorable interviews aren’t a one-sided dialogue – they’re a conversation. So when the interviewer asks if you have any questions at the end of an interview, make sure you have questions prepared! If you have questions about the position itself, you should definitely still ask for clarification on subjects such as time commitment, roles, and growth potential within the organization. However, this is also an opportunity for you to connect with your recruiter and demonstrate your curiosity towards the organization you are applying for. Simple questions such as “how and why did you get involved”, “what’s been the most enjoyable or most challenging part of your experience so far”, and “what was it like organizing Event X?” is a fantastic opportunity to get your interviewer engaged and simultaneously learn more about the organization’s team culture. It’s also a sign of respect towards your interviewer and the company you’re applying for; it shows that you’ve done your research and are interested in the organization beyond a surface level. 

So what should applicants avoid doing in an interview? Here are some don’ts for interview etiquette: 

  1. Be arrogant. 

Although it’s important to be confident in an interview, it’s equally important to be modest. An interviewer is seeking members that meet their requirements for skill and experience, but they are also looking for individuals who have a collaborative mindset and growth potential. As an applicant, you need to demonstrate that you are able to fit within their existing team culture and are willing to work with others. 

Oftentimes, in an attempt to display self-confidence and pride in their experiences, an applicant can unintentionally come across as arrogant and send the wrong message to their recruiter by not preparing enough for the interview. For instance, if Ben is applying for an outreach position but is talking about his varsity basketball achievements, the interviewer may perceive Ben’s behaviour as arrogant because he is speaking extensively about skills or experiences not relevant to the position he is applying for. In reality, Ben might have just not been able to think of any relevant experiences he wanted to highlight on the spot. By preparing for interview questions and presenting a cohesive profile for themselves, applicants can minimize the risk of leaving a bad impression and coming across as over-confident. 

  1. Email unnecessary supplementary materials. 

If an organization did not ask for certain materials or explicitly asked for applicants not to submit portfolios/resumes until accepted into the interview stage, your recruiter will likely not take into account the supplementary documents you submitted. But if you feel that additional supplementary materials would strongly help your candidacy, it’s always a better idea to express this face-to-face during your interview and ask your recruiter directly! Going into an interview, applicants should prepare a printed copy of their resume/portfolio along with other supplementary materials and at the end of the interview, express why it would show the recruiter more about their experience. However, supplementary materials submitted should not repeat what the recruiter already knows about you, meaning you should only submit items that emphasize unique skills, traits, or experiences that were not included in your written application or discussed extensively during your interview. 

  1. Rehearse your interview beforehand. 

Although it’s important to prepare your answers before your interview, memorizing your responses can come across as undesirably stiff and rehearsed. While many applicants do this to feel better prepared and less nervous, it can actually have the opposite effect and applicants may end up forgetting what they originally planned to say in a bout of nervousness during the real interview. As long as you know which key skills about yourself you want to highlight to your recruiter and are able to explain your prior experience, there’s no need to practice extensively beforehand. Instead, be authentic! It’s normal to feel nervous before an interview, but by being yourself and letting your character shine through, you’ll make for a more memorable interviewee. 

Using these 6 do’s and don’ts, we hope you nail that next interview! Liked this article? Check out this article on 5 Jobs In The Medical Field You Probably Haven’t Thought About!

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