So, you’re ready to interview. Congratulations! Whether you’ve been to an interview before or if you’re preparing for your first, it’s an exciting moment in your career. An interview is an opportunity to showcase your skills and what assets you can bring to a company. While there are tried and true pieces of advice (don’t arrive late), why not get tips from the inside? So, we asked our pulp and paper industry partners. Here are the top seven interviewing tips from the professionals.
1. Dress to impress
This could be your next employer, so you want to look professional. Business attire is the most appropriate—dress pants or skirt, crisp, ironed shirt and a blazer are always winners and are seen as professional. It’s okay to show some personality, just be aware of how the interviewer may perceive your outfit choice. Ex: you can talk about your favorite SigEp fraternity tee shirt but don’t wear it.
Understand the role and its requirements as much as you can beforehand. (You can ask questions later, see #4). Is it a role that you are qualified for and would enjoy doing? It’s also beneficial to research the company and their work culture. Are they located in a city that interests you? Is their work innovative/challenging/game-changing? Do their company values align with yours? Dale Wibberly, Human Resources Manager at Sappi North America, suggests calling on former Pulp and Paper Foundation co/ops and interns to learn more about the company.
3. Tell stories
Barb Kerr Hamilton, Business Development Manager at Siemens Energy says it best: “It’s important to note that some of the most powerful examples have little to do with engineering or technology. Think about how your life experiences are related to work skills and have these stories already formed in your brain before you get to the interview.” Be concise and specific with your examples.
4. Listen and ask questions
Although you may feel nervous try your best to stay calm, cool and collected. When asked a question, take a moment to fully understand before you answer. A good listener shows communication skills and leadership material (yes, they’re looking for that!). Additionally, be prepared to ask questions about the job, the company, the culture—get as much information as possible. This helps you understand the company and it shows the company that you actually care about who they are.
5. Show confidence
Tell us about your achievements, tough situations and problems that you solved. How do they relate to this opportunity? You don’t need to go overboard or brag but give specific examples on how and why you’re qualified for this job. Don’t be arrogant or throw others under the bus as these are not desirable traits in a candidate (or a friend).
6. Be honest
You’ve shown us that you’re confident so take it another step further and show your self-awareness. Tell us where you may need development. We’re not expecting you to know everything right away! Also, be honest when sharing experiences, answering questions, and getting to know us. There’s no need to exaggerate.
7. Show appreciation
Show us that you appreciated our meeting by writing a thank you note afterwards. Send a personalized email or card via snail mail the very next day. Along with saying “thank you” include a specific anecdote or moment from our interview. It will remind us of who you are and why we like you so much. Many candidates forget this step—don’t be one of them.
Remember that it’s normal to be nervous! This is a big step in your career and professional development. To ease any anxiety, practice with some friends beforehand or even in front of a mirror. There are many Pulp + Paper scholarship recipients who have been in your shoes and have already interviewed for internships and co/ops. Reach out to them to hear their experiences and ask if they’ll role play an interview with you. Good luck, students!