When applying for a job mid-career, an applicant typically needs to show how they have experience that is directly related to the job they are applying for. As an entry-level job applicant, your story is a little different. As a college senior or recent graduate, you will not be fully trained for the jobs for which you are applying. Believe it or not, recruiters and hiring managers know this! They fully expect that you will need to be trained and need some time to learn on the job.
Instead of just experience, recruiters and hiring managers are looking for other qualities in their ideal candidates. They want candidates who are smart, with high emotional intelligence; hard-workers who can learn quickly. In this short blog post, I’d like to point out another trait, closely related to those listed above. The quality of curiosity. Curious people are easier to work with and a lot more fun to be around. Curious people learn quickly and efficiently, they’re creative and innovative. They bring new ideas to the table, and encourage people around them to think.
Showing you are a curious person is critical for nailing your entry-level job interview. Relatively speaking this should be an easy component of the interview for the interviewee, but because many applicants overlook preparing for this part of the interview, it is not always done well. If you don’t know where to start in asking good questions, here are a few tips to get you started.
First, cultivate genuine curiosity about the organization you are applying to by doing as much research as possible. What looks interesting? What is the company’s mission? Who are its clients? Who are the employees? How long have they worked there? What new initiatives is the company undertaking? How is the organization structured? Now think about the position you’re interviewing for. Why are they hiring for this position? Did someone leave the organization? Why? Did someone get promoted? How did they accomplish that? How does the position fit into the larger organization? Who will be your supervisor? Who will be your teammates? What will your day-to-day experiences look and feel like? How will your career progress if you stay with the organization? What would an ideal candidate for the position look like? (Hint, after you hear the answer to this question explain why YOU have those qualities.)
Next, if you know who will be interviewing you, you can do some research on them. Look at their LinkedIn page, if possible, to learn about their career progression. How long have they been with the organization? When you meet them, ask them questions about their history with the organization, what they like and dislike about working there, and what their future career plans are. These ideas and questions are starting points for you. As you research the company BEFORE you go to your interview, see if you can figure out some of the answers. As you learn more, new questions should pop up. During the process of generating and asking great questions, you’ll learn about the organization and begin to discover whether or not it’s a fit. Remember that the process of asking great questions gives the interviewer critical information about you as a candidate. You show up as someone who is interested in the organization and the job they are offering; as a great future employee who is curious and ready to learn.