Between the top marks in employee satisfaction, unbeatable company cultures and nearly unlimited room for professional growth, who wouldn’t want a job at one of the Best Places to Work in 2019? And with a total of 95,000 open jobs to choose from at 100 different large companies and 50 small and medium companies on the U.S. lists, there are roles for nearly everyone at the Best Places to Work.
But what exactly does it take to get hired at a top company? That’s the question we asked a handful of leaders at this year’s Best Places to Work. Read on for their insider tips on how you can stand apart from the crowd in order to find the job of your dreams.
1. Prepare for Out-of-the-Box Interviews
It used to be that interviews consisted of nothing more than a resume review, phone screen and in-person Q&A. But today, more and more companies are pushing the envelope in order to identify candidates who would truly thrive at their organization. For example, at Heap, the interview process is often a job simulation.
“We make our interviews resemble the actual day-to-day as much as possible. We have engineering candidates spend the day designing and building end-to-end features. We have sales rep candidates iterate on mock customer calls with us. We even have potential managers interview their future team to find patterns and produce a plan to improve execution,” shared Matin Movassate, CEO of Heap.
At Bain, on the other hand, certain positions require case interviews, “which are, at their essence, discussions about a business problem,” explained Manny Maceda, Worldwide Managing Partner.
And at Intuit, a core component of interviews is presentations. As part of their “Assessing for Awesome” (A4A) program, “candidates are given the opportunity to do a task or strategize in a similar way they would on the job, and then present to a small team that assesses for their ability to think creatively and strategically,” said Rick Jensen, Senior Vice President, People & Places at Intuit.
Regardless of where you interview, make sure to get the details on how interviews work there. One great way to do that? Glassdoor’s interview reviews, which contain insights from real candidates on what the interview process is, how challenging it is, what questions are asked and more.
2. Don’t Forget Soft Skills
A large part of your interview process will be dedicated to evaluating your hard skills to ensure that you are able to perform daily tasks, but these aren’t the only criteria on which you’ll be judged. Ask many recruiters, and they’ll tell you that soft skills are just as — if not more — important.
“Instead of calling them soft skills, I would actually call them essential skills,” shared Greg Muccio, Director of People at Southwest. “Some of the most crucial of these skills include: communication, teamwork, leadership, relationship-building, balance, reliability and dependability.”
Aron Ain, CEO of Kronos, agreed.
“Since we judge Kronites not only on what they do but how they do it, we place equal emphasis on behavioral and technical competencies. Relationship building, collaboration and communication are some of the key behavioral competencies, and we ask various questions to understand the candidate’s value system.”
3. Craft a Compelling Story
In nearly every interview, you’ll hear some variation of “Tell me about yourself.” You may be tempted to simply paraphase your resume in response, but that’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make. After all, if an interviewer wants to dig into your resume, they can just look at your resume. What employers really want to hear is a more holistic narrative about who you are, both at work and outside of it.
“From intern to executive, everyone at Shopify has had ‘the Life Story’ interview,” said David King, Director of Employee Experience, Diversity and Belonging at Shopify. “It’s a process we designed in our early days to help us get to know the real person, rather than their interview persona. Essentially, it’s a two-sided conversation about what you’re interested in, how you’ve shown up in different areas of your life and which accomplishments you value the most.”
Bernard J. Tyson, CEO of Kaiser Permanente, asks this question as well: “I ask [candidates] to share their story, their career journey and what they are passionate about accomplishing,” Tyson said. The three elements he uses to evaluate a candidate’s response are “the head, the heart and the guts.”
“I want to get a sense of the head — and how they think, work and take in information and synthesize it — before moving forward. I want to understand their heart — and how they relate to and inspire others — their empathy and passion. And I want to understand how they tap their gut — what drives their ethical compass, what motivates them and how they make decisions,” Tyson explained.
4. Bring Your Whole Self
In an interview, there’s often a temptation to tell a recruiter what they want to hear. But if this is how you shape your responses, you’re not only doing a disservice to the interviewer — you’re also doing a disservice to yourself. Being honest about your background, skills and interests helps ensure that you find the job that’s right for you, while stretching the truth means you could end up in a job that you’re ill-equipped and/or not a good fit for.
“It is not a cliché when we ask candidates to be themselves in an interview. We genuinely desire that. Southwest is not a place where you have to separate your true self from your work environment self. We want you to bring your passions to our company to ensure this is the right fit,” Muccio said. “We are known for our values that make up what we call ‘Living the Southwest Way.’ Those are a Warrior Spirit, a Servant’s Heart and a Fun-LUVing Attitude. We challenge our recruiting team to only hire candidates who embody all three of these core values. It is the criteria on which we measure our employees, so the majority of our questions revolve around these three things.”
Ruta Singh, VP of Global Engineering & Product Recruiting at Facebook, said her company takes a similar approach.
“We want people who want to be here because their goals and interests align with Facebook’s mission. We want you to come in at the beginning of the day energized and ready to do your best work, and to leave at the end of the day feeling like you accomplished something meaningful,” Sing shared. “So when you’re getting ready to interview, understand that we really want to get to know you. Come ready to talk about what you know, but also who you are.”
5. Bring New Ideas to the Table
One of my favorite things to ask when I’m interviewing candidates is what suggestions they have for our program. I’m often surprised how often I hear responses like “It’s hard to think of anything — you’re doing such a great job!” It can be intimidating to share recommendations and ideas in an interview, knowing that you don’t have the same institutional knowledge as your interviewers. But often, that familiarity can lead to tunnel vision, which is why so many companies on the Best Places to Work list told us that outside perspectives are invaluable.
“Many organizations foster and encourage [candidates] wanting to explore, innovate and use their creativity. For example, at Cisco we have a culture that encourages innovation, no matter where an employee sits in the larger organization. We host innovation challenges to garner great ideas untethered to your role or business unit, and have had some great wins as a result,” said Macy Andrews, Senior Director of Human Resources at Cisco.
Tyson concurred, describing Kaiser as a “speak-up culture” where those who voice their opinions are appreciated.
“I want to know what’s on people’s minds, what they’re thinking — because I want to make the best decision, which can be derived from diverse perspectives. This only makes Kaiser Permanente better,” Tyson added.
6. Highlight Your Passion
What separates a good candidate from a great candidate? One word: passion. Even the most well-qualified candidate will fail to impress an interviewer if they aren’t enthusiastic about a company’s mission. So when you’re really excited about an opportunity, let your interviewer know.
“My hope is that whether a candidate is interviewing with me or others on the team, he or she comes away with a positive sense of the company and an understanding that a career with Boston Scientific is more than just a job. Our products help people live longer and better lives, so there’s a higher purpose to what we do,” said Michael F. Mahoney, CEO of Boston Scientific. “I want candidates to know that everyone here, regardless of job function, is united by the shared purpose of advancing science for life.”
Passion is so important to the talent acquisition teams at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital that they often hire candidates who have engaged with their organization before even applying to a job.
“We are fortunate to have a tremendous level of support for our institution. Often, someone is a part of St. Jude as a donor or a volunteer long before they’ve applied for a position with us. We are always excited to meet talented candidates who believe in our mission and feel connected to our institution,” said St. Jude VP of Human Resources Dana Bottenfield. “Our selection process zeroes in on a candidate’s knowledge, skills and ability. Then we expand the lens to uncover if the candidate connects with to our mission and values. Both of these are necessary to get the right candidate in the right role, and to ensure the candidate thrives once employed.”