by Brian Carhide
A few months ago my brother-in-law had the opportunity to interview with two companies for a position as an aviation maintenance technician. Knowing that both positions were competitive and very desirable, he decided to call and ask for some advice. I proceeded to provide him with suggestions on proper dress, preparation, importance of the follow-up, and so on. Knowing him for many years and the fact he has been in the industry for over 20 years, I was confident in his ability to land the job. However, at the end of the conversation, I mentioned one additional piece of advice – attitude.
In the month following while hanging-out during our annual spring turkey hunt, we were discussing his new job with the Home Depot corporate aviation department. Naturally as a career advisor, I had to ask him how the interview had gone. He proceeded to share some details, and one detail that continually stood-out was the information his manager shared with him after he had begun his new position: “our decision was between 3 candidates; we choose you because you were someone we would want to work with.” Albeit he is intelligent, competent, and very good at what he does, but in the end his attitude got him the job.
Of course you still need to possess a company’s desired skill set, but many times, if you have successfully made it to a personal interview, you have the skills. Now they are more interested in you as a person. In addition to attitude, I want to share a couple of techniques and approaches to help you be successful with interviewing.
If you are an athlete or a musician or have participated in any activity that requires skill, you have probably heard the old truisms – practice, practice, practice or practice makes perfect! Interviewing for a job is no different. An interview can be a nerve-wracking experience, and sharpening your interviewing skills can help relax some of those nerves.
Mock interviewing can be an effective form of practicing. Whether you have access to a career advisor, a willing friend, or an experienced family member, you want to determine all your resources, take advantage of them and practice. This type of practice will enable you to perfect eye contact, mannerisms, and the delivery of answers. Mock interviewing will also help develop your story and help in selling the skills you have acquired to a potential employer. There is even software called Perfect Interview available on the EagleHire Network home page that allows you to video record yourself answering questions. Sometimes we are our greatest critics, and watching and listening to yourself can be a valuable learning tool.
Following a recent Embry-Riddle career expo, several employers provided feedback about students which they interviewed. Comments made by the employers indicated students were lacking knowledge about their companies. This is the information age, and it’s very easy to Google a company’s name to obtain a plethora of information. That being said, there is no reason you should go into an interview without knowing general information about the company.
Besides the basic internet search, you may want to consider other methods of learning about a company. In the aviation industry, being that it’s a small network, there is a good chance an alumnus works at the company. Think about the pertinent company information an alumnus could provide and possibly about some specific tips for an upcoming interview. Knowing the culture of the company can be helpful information in an interview, which is also information an alumnus could provide. If possible, take a tour of the facility and observe the working environment and the interactions between the employees.
Gathering all the information you can and being knowledgeable about the company will show your level of interest and make you stand out from other candidates. It can also provide you with some quality questions to ask at the end of the interview, which will be discussed in a future blog post.
The follow-up can be equally as important because many people neglect this step in the interview process. I always suggest a handwritten thank you letter, mailing it off as soon as possible and no later than the next morning following the interview. If an email is all that you can do, it’s better than nothing. Again, the fact that many people neglect the thank you letter (or email) will make you stand out from the competition. Your follow-up should also include contacting the company a week or so after the interview to ask where they are in the process. This action will express your sincere interest in the position and your desire to work for their company.
Successful interviewing begins long before the actual interview. Each interview needs to be approached individually. However, with a well-developed plan of attack, basic knowledge, and practice, you can make that nerve-wracking experience a positive one.
Brian Carhide has more than 20 years of professional aviation experience. He spent many years as a professional pilot, including experience as a charter and airline pilot. Recently, he has been a leader in guiding young aviators in higher education at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.