During the past few months, we’ve talked about how to optimize your CV, LinkedIn and cover letter. Basically, covering all you need to know about ‘how to shine on paper’. Now, let’s move to ‘how you can shine in person’. In other words, explore how to prepare and leave a lasting impression at the interview for your dream job. Specifically a role-based interview. This is when instead of ‘pool hiring’, a candidate is hired with a specific need and team in mind. The first step is to understand the key areas your interviewer is paying attention to. Then to make sure you describe clearly and provide evidence to show how you ace in those areas. So let’s take a closer look at the top 3 things a startup is looking for during a role-based interview.
1. Relevant work experience
This might seem quite obvious but bear in mind that your work history is a string of concrete examples showcasing your expertise and skills. Of course, by now you would have listed them extensively on your CV and LinkedIn. If you’ve been tackling some of the same issues and using similar technologies as the startup, you’re already attractive to them. But here’s what you can do to take it up a notch, and use your work history to really sell yourself.
To highlight your previous experience describe the different problems you have solved in your line of work. Why did you decide to solve these specifically over others? How did you go about finding the best solutions? This is an excellent way for the interviewer to understand your ability to prioritize. Moreover, it also showcases your problem-solving process. If you are a more senior candidate, dig a little deeper, and analyze the process even more. Talk about the tradeoffs you made and the pros and cons of doing those. Most importantly, what was the key learning you took away from that specific project. Keep in mind that this is, after all, a role-based interview. So the more specific you are the better it is.
Bonus role-based interview tip
If you’re a junior engineering candidate, at the start of your career, remember university and hobby projects count too. Especially if you have an amazing code base and tests, they can make a great reference at a role-based interview. Interestingly, many people don’t do tests on their own projects, so if you do, you will stand out.
2. How can you help the team grow
We talked earlier about how a role-based interview assesses a candidate for a specific need and team in a company. These teams in question, particularly in a startup, are mostly cross-functional. So everyone needs to have a general understanding of certain areas to work together. However, it’s also understood that everyone can’t be experts in everything. Therefore, during a role-based interview, the interviewer looks for a skill you have that will help to elevate the team. A key area of focus or strength, a new experience or knowledge that makes you stand out. So make sure to highlight this ‘X-factor’ by talking about different projects where you’ve used this ket competence. Always try to find an angle that makes your work and expertise, unique.
3. Learning potential
This is by far one of the top qualities interviewers keep an eye out for in candidates, particularly the more junior ones. Hiring someone with a little less experience but the capacity to learn is a much better bet than hiring an experienced candidate who doesn’t develop themselves over time. Particularly for emerging talent who are new to the industry with not much work experience to show, learning potential is your biggest strength. A good way to demonstrate this again is through your university and hobby projects, or portfolio. The fact that you’ve tried and tested many things, and continued to fine-tune your work will speak for itself.
When trying to showcase your learning potential talk about how you learn and what you’re interested in to learn. What have you been reading lately? Have you taken any new courses? What are the new projects you’ve been working on? The outcome or end result of these is not the point. The point is your intention. For example, the fact that you created a new prototype because you wanted to learn a specific tool. Or to find a way to do an everyday task more easily.
Next time you are prepping for a role-based interview, make sure you go through these 3 points. Reflect on your past experience and skillset, and find the angles in which you can stand out. Be ready to prove that you’re the best person for this specific role in this specific team.
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