The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “What are three tips for nailing a job interview?” is written by Katia Beauchamp, co-founder and co-CEO of Birchbox.
Before getting hired at Birchbox, every candidate must do a final interview with either myself or Hayley, my co-founder. Not because we’re crazy micro-managers, but because we built this company on the strength of our employees and it’s critical that we are confident in each one of them. When I interview someone, whether it’s an entry-level associate or a potential executive team member, there are very specific things I look for. They may not be the same things that all CEO’s would hone in on, but most of this advice holds true for interviewing at any entrepreneurial company. By entrepreneurial, I don’t mean less than ten people; I mean a company that is growing quickly, asking questions, and constantly reinventing themselves. Here’s what you need to know before you walk in the door:
Don’t just research — ask ‘so what?’
A good candidate will obviously do a lot of reading up on the company and come in with knowledge about the company’s history, goals, and business model. But an exceptional candidate will think outside of the box and come up with questions regarding the big picture: the marketing opportunity, the cash flow, the supply/demand dynamics, etc. Nothing is more enjoyable to an interviewer than an interviewee who digs deeper, revealing a level of interest that that has them asking more than the basics.
Always have questions
About 99.99% of interviews end with the interviewer asking whether you have any questions. There is only one answer to this question: I have SO many questions. Regardless of how many people you have met, how much research you have done, and all of the questions you have already asked – ask more. It’s so important that you have a voracious curiosity about the company, from the culture, to the structure and operations. Use this opportunity to show that you are someone who is deeply engaged in what the company does, but also that you are someone who cares about this information because it is a decision for you too. Just because you are interviewing does not mean you have to accept a job offer. Show confidence by asking all the questions you can – it will help you decide if this is the right opportunity for you.
Of course we want to hire the smartest and most skilled people around. But they have to be more than that—they have to be do-ers, problem-solvers, and self-starters. That means I’m looking for candidates who are positive, have a clear vision, and can handle themselves well in challenging situations. At the end of the day, you need optimism to succeed, which means seeing problems as opportunities and never taking ‘no’ for an answer.
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