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Great interview tips

“We made a 25 kV Tesla Coil and blew up all the electronics in a two block radius.” said Jill Patterson, the Human Resources Manager at The RMH Group, a local consulting firm. She was explaining some advice an engineer wanted her to give students applying for jobs. The advice in full was to “convey an interest in and a passion for life and engineering including examples of interesting or weird experiments.”

Being a proactive job searcher is about actively seeking a job. It is important to target one or more companies, and as Patterson recommends, to call the company’s human relations department. This strategy, which works best for smaller companies, is important because it shows you, as the job searcher, care.

“Phone calls are best. You won’t always get a person live, but leave a message. When you call them, find out if companies have temporary positions or internships. Even if you don’t get hired as a regular or full time, you gain experience that can be useful later,” said Patterson.

After time, while proactively searching for a job, the searcher will end up becoming an interviewee. And no matter the job, as Patterson advised, “be yourself, be sincere, be genuine and honest.”

During an interview it is important to talk about your people skills along with your technical skills. “Talk about how you resolve problems,” said Patterson. “It’s nice for us to hear about how you solved it… talk open-endedly and give details and examples from your life. It gives the interviewer a better idea of you.” She also recommended to be open and personable with the employers. “Try to get to know your interviewers’ names and try to use them in the interview.”

As far as technical skills, it is important to research the company you interview with. “Convey an interest in an engineering or technical area. Highlight a specific area of interest or project and talk about it. Know the basic technology of the company you’re interviewing with. The engineers love it when you ask questions. It shows interest, it shows curiosity. Be prepared to talk about at least one fundamental technical area, for example, fluids piping, friction drop, calculation methodologies, pumps, and pump selection.”

It is also important to highlight computer skills you have such as computer languages, web design, and programming for Microsoft office.

Equally important is your experience working with a team. Tell the employer how you interacted with that team, speak about your role on the team, and your unique contributions.

Once the interview is done, your job is not over. It is important to follow up either by a phone call or by email. It is also good taste to send a thank you note to the company as well. Even if you end up not getting the job from the company, it is important to remain in touch by calling every 2-3 months. If the company likes you, they may higher you for a later position. And according to Patterson, the most important thing to do after the interview is, “Don’t give up.”

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