Google Venture’s recruiter and friend of MindSumo Lemuel Diaz shared these two important tips to help you make sure you look your best when you finally land the big interview.
I. Overcoming your nerves
Okay, you landed your dream job interview and now you’re nervous as hell. "What will they ask me? What if I don’t know the answer? I hope I don’t blow it!“ These thoughts are all probably going through your head and causing your blood pressure to rise and anxiety to overflow. You’re nervous. It happens…and it’s perfectly fine to be nervous. After all, you’re human!
Here’s the good part; the interviewer sitting across from you is human as well! They will understand…and even more so if you simply get that feeling out in the open at the beginning of the interview. A simple "I’ve been looking forward to this interview and now that I’m here I’m all nerves” accompanied by a friendly smile will immediately drop everyone’s guard (including yours) and create rapport. Don’t dwell on it…just state it and move on. The truth is that most interviews are structured to have 5-10 mintes at the beginning to make the candidate (you) more comfortable and ease your nerves.
Here’s the other little secret…you’re interviewing THEM just as much as they are interviewing you. Do you like the people? Why would you want to accept an offer from this company? Have they convinced you? If you flip around your thinking to put you in the position of authority then your nervousness will be greatly reduced. Let’s be real here…you’re the one who ultimately decides on accepting an offer or not.
II. Thought Process vs. Actual Answer!
I always thought I had to have a perfectly polished answer to questions in my interviews when I was just out of college. The simple truth is that is not true. An interviewer wants to understand your thinking, assumptions, and ability to communicate the framework you are using to arrive at your answer. There usually isn’t a “right” answer to arrive at, but instead a variety of different answers that could be correct. As the old saying goes “there are many ways to skin a cat” Although you will probably want to avoid talking about skinning cats…especially to engineers.
Start by “thinking out loud”, state all your assumptions and explain the general framework of how you would think through the question. Are there corner cases or restraints such as budget, time, resources, etc? If so, there will be assumptions associated with those things that would dramatically alter your answer. Make sure you’re assumptions are reasonable and aren’t just made to simplify the problem. Now that you have your assumptions out on the table use the available information to reason through the to an answer to the question asked. Some people forget to answer the actual question they were asked!
This is what separates an analytical person from someone who is not: checking your answer! Does your answer seem reasonable or way off? In most cases you’re first answer is not going to be the best, closest, most optimized, etc. That’s ok, but show the interviewer that you’ve thought about these things and if given more data, time, resources explaining how you might adjust a few specific things to get a better answer.