by Desiree M. Tunstall, ‘CAS 2006, Account Director @ AppNexus
There are three things that matter to any employer when interviewing a candidate.
- Can you do the job?
- Will you do the job?
- Will I like working with you?
If you’re an avid reader of the Harvard Business Review, Fast Company or other similar business publications, you may have seen these three questions. Let’s address each from the standpoint of a college student looking to secure his or her dream job.
Can you do the job? Employers know that you are fresh out of college and you will need on the job training. However, there are certain skills you can bring to the table that employers need you to have from the start – you either have them or you don’t. They include:
- Problem Solving: If I give this person an issue to tackle, will he/she think about all sides of the problem? Address all potential outcomes? Weigh various sides of the issue intelligently? Provide a sound resolution quickly?
- Effective Communication: Can this person effectively and efficiently articulate a point? Can he/she explain complicated matters in a simple, easy-to-understand fashion? If I put this person in front of our CEO, would he/she know what is important to share?
- Comprehension Skills: Can this person receive, interpret and act upon information he/she is given quickly?
Will you do the job? An employer can tell if you are interested in the job. It’s like going on a date. If you are only there for the free meal, the person on the other side of the table can tell. Apply for positions at companies that interest you. That way you can easily demonstrate the most important characteristic that employers look for here – investment. Investment means that you are not only interested in being at the company, but you are willing to put in 100% effort to exceed expectations and contribute to the company’s success. During your interview, you demonstrate investment by researching the company well, clearly articulating how the position maps to your career goals and being enthusiastic.
Will I like working with you? It’s no secret that you are likely going to spend a lot of hours at your first job. Most Americans work anywhere from 40 to 60 hours per week – some even more than that. Those hours are best spent around people you enjoy. Employers want to like the person they are hiring. Gone are the days of clocking in at 9:00AM and leaving at 4:50PM. Companies are trying to make their workplaces more integrated in their employees personal lives, making work a more social experience. Liking the people around you is more important than ever. I certainly don’t suggest going to an interview and trying to be liked. Just be yourself. Be your naturally nice, smiling, charismatic, friendly, inquisitive, intuitive, emotionally intelligent self. You got into PENN with it. Now go get that job!