Tips for Survival: The Big Interview

Tips for Survival: The Big Interview

Cassidy, Campus Recruitment

There are so many steps in the job search process. Believe me, I know. You prepare the perfect resume, speak with the company recruiter, ace a phone interview and are finally invited onsite to meet with your potential employer. All eyes are on you, seemingly picking you apart from the second you walk into the room. How will you survive the dreaded final interview? Well, for starters, interviewers aren't picking you apart. So take a deep breath and read on for a few tips from this recruiter’s perspective.

Know why you’re there. When a company invests in an onsite interview, this means they think you have high potential, and they want to see you in the work environment and culture. While you’re onsite, be more than a sponge – be thoughtful and insightful. We often ask candidates “Why Walmart?” and the most common response is a list of Walmart facts and excerpts of our mission statement. Not bad, but a better response is to tell how the company resonates with you personally, what you think you could bring to the team, or even an appreciation of specific work Walmart has done. Create a natural connection between you and the company.

Maximize your relationship with the recruiter. Speaking as a recruiter, we’re the ones who pushed to get you this far, and it’s our job to make sure you’d be a good fit for the role before putting you in front of a panel. So you’re in essence a representation of our own recruiting skills, and we want to make sure you’re as prepared as possible. Here are a few favorite pre-interview questions I don’t mind answering:

  • What does the day-to-day look like in this role?
  • What’s the team dynamic like?
  • What does the career path look like?
  • Who will be conducting my interview?
  • Here’s another great list of questions to help you prepare.

Before the interview, research is king. While on-site, it’s not unusual to complete several interviews in one day or experience a panel. Avoid being intimidated by knowing your stuff! If your interest is finance, don’t just know our stock price and filings reports, but understand any potential causes, value and impact of this information. Don’t skim the surface. Review the job description and go the extra mile by researching similar roles at other companies and understanding what makes the role you are looking at unique. Look to your LinkedIn network for people currently or formerly in the role. Check out industry news and press releases. And always look up unfamiliar words and phrases you come across in your quest. If you’ve done your research, you’re probably more prepared than most.

On interview day, don’t panic. In full transparency, there’s not much you can do to prepare on interview day. Of course, arrive on time having completed the morning rituals that make you the best you. First impressions are crucial, so dress the part (and don’t forget the details like shoes and well-groomed fingernails). Use the insights your recruiter shared: park there, enter here, team attire, etc. Introduce yourself to every person in the room, even if it seems a little awkward. Make a connection with each of them. Bring copies of your resume and something to write with – and use it! I suggest you write “S.T.A.R.” on the top of your notepad and use the STAR method to minimize rambling and communicate your experience in an impactful way. Don’t get lost in the details – keep answers short and only highlight things that will matter to the group. Finally, take a deep breath and relax as much as possible. Your perceived comfort with the team is probably just as important as how you answer the interview questions.

There are a lot of other tips out there to make the big interview a little less terrifying, and it really all comes down to knowing yourself and leveraging tools like the one I’ve mentioned. Take some time to prepare and check out the video with this post to learn more about the STAR method. You’ll not only survive, but thrive the next time you find yourself in the wild of the panel interview.

Good luck!


How to succeed in a panel interview

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