When looking for a job, most interviewees try desperately hard to impress the interviewer by being marketable and portraying the best version of themselves. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Great interviewees research the position, company, and the individuals they will meet during the interview. Most people spend their time preparing their physical appearance, reviewing mock interview questions, and being agreeable during the entire interview process. But how about the interviewer portraying their best, performing their research on the candidate, and preparing respectable questions? There are many things that candidates can learn and pick up about the company culture during their one hour interview or even before!
One of the things I find most helpful is researching the company. I don’t mean just looking at their objectives and pipeline or the current news on their latest breakthrough. Try and connect with people who are in the company to find out how they enjoy what they do and how their work environment makes their job a welcoming place before the interview. You need to find out if people feel like they’re making a difference in the company and if they’re happy when at work (yes, there is such a thing!)
Here is a list of some possible questions that you can ask on an informational interview:
- Can you please describe the kind of work that you do here?
- Do you feel like you are making an impact at this company?
- Can you describe the company culture and how that plays a role on work performance?
- What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?
It’s important to get the scoop on how the company works in terms of the work atmosphere and if everyone is being treated with respect. Everyone from the intern to the CEO should feel well respected and that they are succeeding their career goals in their positions.
Back to the interview! I’m not an expert on reading body language, but there are some signs you can pick up on.
- During the interview, is the interviewer giving you their full attention or checking their phone every 2 minutes?
- Did you arrive at the interview only to find out that it has been rescheduled without your knowledge?
- Does the interviewer seem unprepared when explaining the position or asking about key major details they should know are already clearly printed on your resume?
- Does the staff look happy or at least content during the tour of the workspace?
- Does the staff seem like they’re friendly and get along with each other?
- Can you feel tension amongst the employees when you walk into the office?
If you’re in a situation where the company culture is far from ideal, there are small ways that you can make some changes by doing your part in providing a safe work environment where people can grow and learn from one another with a high level of respect. Respect everyone and remember that you’re in a team environment. Sure, mistakes can happen, but how you react to them and help others can make all the difference in the world.
Joviane Bellegarde is a Northeastern Alumna hailing from the Class of 2014. She graduated with a BS in Biochemistry and is working at Brigham and Women’s Hospital as a Technical Research Assistant. In her free time, she enjoys reading, catching up on her favorite shows, and expressing her inner geek. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/jovianebellegarde.
Give me a first and last name and you can be found in the internet. Whether it’s an article from a high school newspaper, your LinkedIn, or a social media profile, it’s out there. And being wary of it is crucial.
I’ll google myself, and you should too. I know that my social media comes up, because no one shares the same name as me (oh the joy). I’m aware that this is available to a potential employer. I’ve gotten those LinkedIn notifications that someone from a job I applied for looked at my Linkedin, which means they probably did a quick google search of me.
This being said, besides just making sure my LinkedIn is up-to-date with employment, job descriptions, and certifications, I make sure my social media is too. We live in a world where we are all connected and since it’s out there, I’m taking advantage of it. I list my employment on Facebook, have a professional profile picture, and make sure there’s no discrepancies between all. Maybe I’m neurotic and this is only me, but having a professional outlook on social media is necessary, in my opinion. Continue to share what you normally would, it’s a part of who you are. I’m not going to not share a running article or an EMS article I found interesting; it’s a part of who I am and will probably come in an interview. And that’s cool.
Finals are over! For those of you that are graduating, congratulations! You made it!
For those of you that aren’t and are facing a four-month summer, here are some tips to make it through in a productive way.
- Find an internship. The benefit of having such a long summer is that you have room for a significant work experience – if you use the entire four months, it could even count for a co-op. A lot of already-established internships last for only one or two months, so you can split your summer between work experience and relaxation.
- Set up an independent project. If you can’t find an internship, try to come up with your own project! Hone in on an area that you want to further study and contact people that might serve as valuable sources of knowledge. If you’re staying around campus, Snell would be a great place to work as most of the student population will not be around.
- Research. Keep an eye out for research opportunities with past professors, PhD candidates, and department heads. Some research projects experience a lull over the summer if most of the work relies on students, but others thrive since research can be the main focus with classes temporarily on hold.
- See the world! If you have always longed to travel, now is your time. The academic year can be hectic and there is not much time to go abroad during the scheduled breaks, so the summer is a perfect time to travel to the other side of the world where it would take a week just to get over jetlag. Do some research, talk to friends about the best places to go, and make sure you have the finances available to travel.
- Go on a dialogue. Along the same lines of seeing the world, a dialogue would be a great opportunity to travel while doing concrete work and earning course credit at the same time. Take a look at Northeastern’s dialogue website at http://www.northeastern.edu/geo/dialogue/. All of the applications for this summer are closed, but look around for ones you might want to pursue in the summers ahead.
- Relax. The school semester is a stressful time so take advantage of the sun and lack of constant pressure to breathe for a moment. Go home, see family, and make memories. Refresh yourself and renew your scholarly spirit for the upcoming academic year.