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Episode Transcript

In the last episode, Episode 57, hopefully you were convinced to make a move toward your next engineering opportunity. In this episode you’ll learn the secret to a successful interview for that opportunity.

I’m talking about an internal interview that’s the next step for you in your engineering career. But it can apply to any interview. 

You’ve already taken the hardest step – which is realizing you’re ready and taking action toward your next engineering role. So now you need to go through the formalities of applying and interviewing.

Help the Interviewer Decide You’re the Best Engineering Candidate

Interviewing is nerve-wracking. And it’s normal to be uneasy about it. But I have the secret that will keep your focus in the right place and result in a winning interview:

Make it easy on the person interviewing you.

Your role is to bring your best self. To showcase what you have to offer. To provide all the evidence for the hiring manager to make a decision. 

The hiring manager’s role is to decide if you’re the best candidate. Both in terms of ability and job fit. And you want to make that decision as easy as possible for them.

You have the skills and abilities to do this job. And you’re a great candidate for it. Know that going in so you can focus on ensuring that your interviewer knows it too.

3 Tips for a Winning Engineering Interview

Here are my 3 tips for making that happen:

  1. Take it seriously. Even if you know the hiring manager and the team you hope to join. Even if you think you might be a shoo-in. Take the interview seriously. Be professional. Dress appropriately. And prepare.
  1. Have stories. This means:

It’s common in interviews to be asked to “tell me about a time when…” “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with difficult people…” or “Tell me about a time when you led a research project…” 

You can anticipate these questions. Have a handful of relevant stories and practice them so you can use them to make the right points at the right time. So you can show you have what it takes.

I once interviewed for a job where I would be working with a cross-functional team. And I was asked to talk about a time when I worked with people from various organizations. 

So I shared my project management story involving government, industry, and academic collaborators. Good communication and understanding different organizational cultures were relevant skills I developed in this experience. 

See how I used my story to show evidence of the necessary skills? That’s what you need to do.

  1. Know your why. Not just why you want the job. (Which is important and you should be ready to explain that.) But why they should hire you for it. Why you are the one. Why you should be selected over others. 

What is it that you have that makes you the best candidate?

You should understand what the problem is that the manager is trying to solve by hiring you. And you should know what specifically you have to bring that solves it. 

Let me give you a couple generic examples.

The hiring manager’s problem: I need someone to take over the design team. 

Why you’re the one to solve it: Not only am I familiar with that design, but I have experience leading teams and bringing such projects to a successful closure.

Or, 

The hiring manager’s problem: I need an engineer to resolve the key technical issues in this program. 

Why you’re the one to solve it: I’ve led 3 successful collaborative projects. I’m familiar with this technology. And I already have ideas for technical approaches and potential team members.

Can you see how powerful that is? 

Knowing specifically why you’re the one to solve the problem – and communicating that through your interview – makes it easier for the manager to make that hiring decision.

If you can put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes, you’ll see that interviewing is a challenge. It’s not easy to do effectively. And making the decision among candidates is not always straightforward. It involves a lot of considerations. 

Anything you can do to make it easier on them is a bonus for you. 

No matter what engineering position you’re interviewing for, it’s not just about your technical know-how. You have to show that you’re the right person.

As you prepare, I invite you to apply the 3 tips I shared today: take it seriously, bring stories, and know your why.

Remember that you’re a great candidate. Bring your best self. And make that decision easy on the hiring manager.

Next time on Her Engineering Career Podcast I have some ideas on actions vs. impact and how the difference can help you in your performance reviews and more. Stay tuned for Episode 59.