June 2023 Circuit

Career Development Series, Part 2: “Get that job, sis!” — Acing the Interview

Date: Thursday, June 15th 2023
Time: 5:00-6:00 PM CDT
Location: Baldwin Auditorium, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

About this event

Finding job postings and preparing for interviews can be intimidating – especially in a male dominated field like STEM! To continue our commitment with women in STEM, our monthly mentorship program, STEM Circuits, hosted this Spring Career Development Mini-Series where we navigated how to find the perfect job and ace the interview.

Afrida Rahman-Enyart, PhD (she/her/hers)
Scientific Liaison and Product Manager
Proteintech Group, Inc

Goals for this meeting:

  1. What to do before the interview
  2. What to do during the interview + Example questions
  3. What to do after the interview

What to do before the interview

  • Research the company
    • What is their mission? What is their history? What is important to them?
    • Cater your answers around what you find
    • Make sure to show off your knowledge of the company
    • If you find out who your interviewer is — try to find out more about them, and prepare to speak to them about their background/interests
  • (Re-)Study the job description
    • Know what the job entails
    • Know the requirements or certifications/licenses you need → if you don’t have them, have an explanation of why you don’t need them
    • Do you need to prepare a presentation or portfolio for the interview
  • Practice your answers and pitch
    • Look up some common interview questions and outline your answers
    • Think about a “pitch” for yourself
    • Use the STAR framework

Preparing for the common interview questions

  1. Tell me about yourself.
    1. Usually, this is an icebreaker question
    1. Keep it short and sweet! Only focus on how your experience relates to the job, don’t regurgitate your resume
    1. Potential things to talk about:
      1. Experience, qualifications
      1. Why you’re a good candidate (list traits like organized, problem-solver, good communicator, etc)
      1. Mention past successes
      1. Use the STAR framework
  2. Why do you want to work here?
    1. Look at social media to figure out what their values/interests are → you can mention this in your answer
    1. Showcase that you researched their company (know about their products and services)
    1. Why would you be a good fit for their company
  3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
    1. Strengths: Identify best skills, habits, and personality traits!
      1. Highlight both hard and soft/transferable skills
      1. Only list 2-3, and back it up with examples
      1. Make sure to repeat the word “strength” → this will make the interviewer remember them!
    1. Weaknesses: make sure to explain HOW you are changing or overcoming them
      1. Interviewer wants to know that you are self-aware of your weaknesses
      1. Only list 1
      1. Do not repeat the word weakness → don’t want to draw attention to it
  4. Why do you want to leave academia?
    1. Tell the truth, but stay positive!
    1. Try to spin the question into “why do you want to join industry” and talk about how you like the different aspects in industry instead

Uncomfortable topics in an interview

  • Expected Salary
    • Know how much you’re worth!
      • Look up Glassdoor range
      • Find out how much is normal in your location or for your title
  • Behavioral Questions (ex: “Tell me about a time you had to overcome a conflict or difficulty with a coworker.”)
    • Use the STAR framework
    • Pick a story with a happy ending or if not, explain how you learned from it
    • Be honest, and reframe the question to provide another response
    • Actively listen to the question!

“Do you have any questions for me?”

  • ALWAYS say yes, and ask your own questions!
    • This shows that you are interested
    • It also gives you more information so you can make a good decision
  • If you have multiple interview rounds, ALWAYS ask questions
    • It’s ok to recycle the questions if interviewer is difference
    • Get different perspectives from people who work there

Tips for a successful interview

  • Arrive a few minutes early (even if it’s on Zoom)
  • Dress professionally (or match the company’s dress code)
  • Create the right environment (clean up your room if you’re on Zoom)
  • Be succinct and use professional body language
  • Remember — your interviewers are people just like you!

After the interview

  • Ask them what next steps are
  • Send a follow up thank you email within 24 hours to the interviewer
  • If you don’t hear back, send another email
  • If you don’t get the job, respond and say thank you still
    • That connection might still be important in the future!
    • Ask them to keep you in mind for future openings