Interviewing for a full-time job after college can be a daunting process. I’m sharing three lessons I learned on my journey to help make the process less stressful.
Your knees are weak, and your palms are sweaty. Hopefully, there’s not vomit on your sweater already. Searching for a full-time job is a scary process for everyone, and going through interviews can sometimes feel like getting your teeth pulled. On my journey to my current full-time job, I learned a few key things about the interview process.
1. Interview the Interviewer
While you are in the interview, this is your chance to learn everything you ever wanted to know about the prospective company, what life is like as a full-time engineer, or about your interviewer’s own career story. Don’t hold back if you have any questions, even if they are not directly related to the job you are interviewing for. It may even be helpful to come prepared with a list of questions; don’t leave time for an awkward silence.
2. Attend interviews for jobs you are unsure about
Very rarely have I ever declined an interview that I was offered; any interview gives you the chance to learn more about an engineering company — what they do and how they do it, the company culture and benefits available to their employees, and what their facility is like. Even if you are convinced that the job is not a good fit, you will gain a lot of practice answering questions and making small talk, and you may gain valuable connections for your professional network. You may even change your mind about a company after seeing what it’s like and interacting with employees.
3. Be prepared for a non-traditional interview
Engineering firms are continually seeking to improve their interview process, and many companies are trying non-traditional approaches to evaluate a candidate’s technical and interpersonal skills. At the company I work for, my interview process lasted almost a full work day. My company specializes in research and development, and I was asked to prepare a presentation proposing a solution to a real problem the company had dealt with previously. The situation presented to me was one that I had no experience with, and I had to perform an extensive literature review to gain the competence necessary to tackle the problem. The objective of the presentation was to assess my ability to quickly research a topic I knew nothing about, be able to offer innovative solutions to complex problems, and be able to communicate those ideas effectively.
Interviews can be scary, but they are a critical time to develop your interpersonal skills, learn more about the variety of engineering companies out there and grow your confidence as you market yourself.
Want to gain relevant industry experience?
Texas A&M University offers a website where you can apply to local job offers as well as internships and full-time employment. Through the website, you can add filters that can narrow your job searches to find the perfect fit for you.