You probably know that feeling.
You get the call/email/notification that you are selected to interview for a job.
You want to prepare, so you turn to research to be able to talk about the company you are interviewing for.
I was excited, and I wanted to go in and show what I could do. My first stop was the company website. This way I could talk about areas I could help in, and how my past experience compared with the goals of the company.
I was met with big words like process automation, operations supervision, SCADA, and as someone with a non-engineering background, my first thought was: Uh, they do what? However, it definitely helped me prepare interview questions to find out what all of that actually meant.
Now, several years later, I am on the other side of the table, and I see students, interns, and candidates with that same look that I must have had. If I am at a career fair, they come over, introduce themselves, and look over the banner and try to figure out what we do.
I can’t use the big, industry words because they don’t mean anything to them…yet. So I use words that they would understand and also describe us.
Here’s three things I’ve learned from my time at Gray Matter Systems that will help you survive a job interview in the Industrial Automation sector.
3 Tips to Survive the Interview
- Be prepared to talk about yourself. Be comfortable enough to talk about yourself personally. We can figure out if you have the aptitude, but attitude is harder to vet. If your personality doesn’t gel with the culture here, elimination is possible. It’s important to also ask questions not just about what we do, but about our working environment.
- Know your learning curve. Never assume that you can learn everything and be an expert in just two weeks. It’s not like learning Microsoft Word; it should take about two years to be an expert. Also, you’re not going to know everything at first. Prepare a list of questions beforehand and don’t be afraid to ask them!
- Align the opportunity as a win-win. Approach the interview with the attitude that you have to win over the company, as well as allowing the company to win you over. Don’t try to make the company fit into your major or the career you want- make sure it’s a good match.
But Here’s The Most Important Thing to Remember: Know Your Company
But here’s the most important thing I know. You have to go into the interview knowing about the company.
Have an idea of what the company does and the products they sell. If you don’t understand a product or a concept- look it up online. Maybe you don’t fully understand every function or detail about SCADA, but you do know what it stands for. That’s a start.
If a candidate is in my office or on the phone for a job interview, I ask the first question: “Tell me what you know about Gray Matter Systems?”
They do their best and then I fill them in. I want to spend the time learning about them and how they would be a great fit, not just explaining what we do here. So the same rules apply, I have to inform them, get them intrigued, and help them understand who we are, but do it quickly so that we can really talk about what they can do.
So what do I say? I keep it simple and true — we do cool, important things every day.
We provide solutions to customers. We solve complex problems. Our industry is responsible for making sure your favorite cookie tastes like your favorite cookie every time you buy it. Your drinking water is safe because of the systems we help put in place.
This is just a piece of what we do, because we are working in technology and technology is continually changing and updating. We can come up with new innovative ways to help our customers by finding new vendors and products, and when one doesn’t exist, we can work on developing it.
It’s awesome. It’s important. And this is how I define us.
I look back now, and am excited that I took the chance on a company that I had no idea what they did.
I am glad that I had someone in my interview process take the time to explain who we are and what we do. I hope that I express that same passion to those who are going through the process.
So, it’s important to remember that if you have the right attitude and some aptitude, we can teach you the big words, and the ideas behind them. You just have to come in with a passion to want to be amazing, every day.
Want to learn more about what it’s like working at Gray Matter Systems? Check out our Careers page.
Featured photo courtesy of markus spiske.