Landing an interview for a data scientist position is exciting. But it can also be a bit anxiety-inducing, particularly if you are worried about how you compare to other candidates. Often, every interview is going to have a similar technical skillset, so you can’t necessarily rely on your data science know-how alone. Instead, you have to figure out what makes you unique and how you can provide the employer with value.
While that may seem daunting, it isn’t as difficult as it appears. If you want to stand out in your data scientist interview, here’s what you need to do.
Just like you don't want to burn bridges when you quit your job, you shouldn't burn bridges when you need to cancel an interview. You never know when your path will cross with that recruiter or that potential hiring manager again. Leave a positive impression when you cancel an interview by handling it like a professional.
Let them know you aren't coming.
Unless you're incapacitated, there's no excuse for simply not showing up. Inform the interviewer that you're unable to make the appointment. Try to give the company enough time so people aren't left with holes in their schedules.
Apologize and offer a reason.
Don't grovel, but offer a sincere apology for disrupting schedules. You shouldn't make a lengthy justification, but it's polite to offer a reason for the cancelation. If you don't want to share details, just explain that you're unable to make the meeting.
Use the phone.
Text messages are too casual for an important professional communication like this. Use email if you need to, but using the phone is more personal. Particularly if you want to reschedule rather than cancel permanently, having a phone conversation conveys that you are interested. It also allows you to coordinate a new interview time without a lot of back and forth emails.
Ask to reschedule.
Don't rely on the company reading between the lines of your message. If you want to come in at another time, be explicit and ask to reschedule. If you aren't interested in the position any longer, tell the company you've decided not to pursue this opportunity.
Take a moment before you cancel your interview to think through your reasons for canceling and to make sure they're good ones. If you're canceling because you're afraid you aren't qualified for the position, reschedule instead of canceling completely, and boost your confidence by doing a practice interview or reviewing the technical subject matter. Don't talk yourself out of pursuing what might be a great opportunity.
If you've canceled an interview because you knew the opportunity wasn't right for you but are still looking for a new job, The Armada Group can help. We've been matching great candidates to top open jobs for more than 20 years. We'll take the time to understand what you're looking for and match you to jobs that will challenge and excite you. Contact us to get the interviews that get you your dream job.
Going to be looking for a new job in the new year? Update your resume and brush up on your interviewing skills with these 10 tips:
1. Have good manners.
Be nice to everyone you meet during the hiring process, including the administrative assistants who schedule the interviews and bring you into the office. Even if the hiring process doesn't formally solicit their feedback, you can be sure any bad impression you make on them will find its way back to the hiring manager.
2. Don't focus solely on technology.
If you're interviewing for a leadership or managerial role, your job is more about people than tech. If you are looking for a technical job, you'll have to interact with co-workers and colleagues in other business departments. If you make it clear you enjoy those interactions, you'll appear more flexible than someone who wants to keep their head down and just code.
3. Be ready to explain how you'd get started.
Companies are often hiring because they have an urgent need. Be ready to explain how your skills, background, and approach will let you hit the ground running.
4. Dress appropriately.
It's rare to need a suit and tie when interviewing for a technical position, but you should still bump your style up a notch. In some startups, casual, even sloppy, dress may still be appropriate for an interview, but even if you're rumpled, you need to be clean.
5. Be ready to show your portfolio.
Particularly for positions that emphasize creativity, such as user interface design roles, you may be asked to show samples of your work. Be mindful of any confidentiality or nondisclosure agreements you have with your current employer, but bring examples of your work when possible. (Don’t force an uninterested interviewer to look at it, however!)
6. Be ready to ask questions.
You can plan questions in advance based on information you gather about the company online, but you'll make an even better impression if you ask relevant questions about the specific opportunity that relate to information the interviewer gave you.
7. Indicate your interest in continuing development.
No one can afford to stop learning, whether in a technical or managerial role. Express your interest in continuing to develop your capabilities, including technical and leadership skills, and the company will know that your value to them won't end just because a technology becomes obsolete.
8. Have your references ready.
Companies expect that you'll be able to provide references; not having a list of names handy makes you seem unprepared and can raise suspicions that you don't have anyone who will vouch for you. Make sure you let your references know you'll be giving their information out and they are willing to respond on your behalf.
You don't want to give canned answers to interview questions, but you don't want to ramble, either. Anticipate what you may be asked and think about your answers in advance. You can't anticipate specific technical questions, but you can brush up on the relevant technologies to refresh your memory.
10. Remember the evaluation process goes both ways.
Interviewing isn't just about you impressing the company; the company also needs to impress you. Pay attention to the facilities and people you see; do you think you'd fit in and enjoy working here? That's the most important interview question of all.
When you're applying for a corporate job, it makes sense to go for a corporate look at your interview. You want to look like you can fit in and do the job. When you're applying for a job at a startup, deciding what to wear isn't so straightforward. Startups are the antithesis of corporate, and without a dress code, their employees usually wear pretty much whatever they want. But that doesn't mean you can wear whatever you want to your interview.
Every startup is different. To some extent, you need to use common sense based on what you've heard about this specific startup and the specific role you're interviewing for. Sales jobs and other jobs that require meeting with customers may require a more pulled-together appearance. So what follows, then, aren't rules but guidelines that will help you decide how to present yourself.
It doesn't matter how casual the dress code is; your clothes should be freshly laundered. You should not be rumpled, smelly or stained, it will seem like you aren't able to handle basic self care, or give the position your respect.
A pulled-together look is always better. That doesn't mean formal, but it does mean looking like you made an effort. It's not so much the specifics of what you wear, but that you give an impression that the interview is a big deal to you.
Not all casual environments are the same. Some are fine with short; others draw the line at jeans. It's better to be one step more formal than the workplace than to push it too far.
For both gents and ladies, khakis and a button-down shirt are always a safe choice. There's no need for a tie. Ladies can also wear a dress; just don't go too short or too low cut. If you go with jeans, darker colors read more formal than light colors. A sports jacket or blazer also step up your style when you wear jeans.
No smart company will make the decision to hire you based solely on what you wear to the interview, but it's another piece of information they'll consider. Miss the mark too badly and they'll wonder about your judgment. Make a smart wardrobe choice for your interview, and once you're hired, you can dress like you belong there.
Some interview questions are unique. "If you could have any superpower, what would it be?"
Some interview questions are routine. "Why did you leave your last job?"
Despite their being so different in form, both questions have a common purpose. They are meant to help the interviewer understand your motivations and desires and to help them judge whether you will fit in.
Questions like the first are hard to prepare for – they're so non-standard, they're unexpected, and it's hard to know how someone will react to anything you say – but there's no excuse for not being prepared for the second. Your answer has to be fact-based (because a potential employer can verify your answer), it needs to feel truthful to you (so you can state it with confidence), and it needs to reassure the interviewer that your rationale for leaving was appropriate.
No matter what your reason for leaving was, there are ways to shape your answer to this question that make it positive. Use the following examples as a guideline for answering this question:
• I was laid off. The company had layoffs, and unfortunately I was one of the people who were affected.
• I was bored. I went into the job hoping to accomplish A,B,C (or learn X,Y,Z), and I was able to do that. Now I'm looking for a role where I can achieve D,E,F (or work with technology Q,R,S).
• There was too much production support. The company had a lot of other issues that kept us from focusing on building the product.
• Politics got in the way. I'm really excited by the opportunity to develop and ship a product. Because of management changes at my former employer, we weren't able to focus on delivery.
• It was disappointing in every way imaginable and I escaped as fast as I could. I knew very quickly that the situation wasn't the right fit for me. I could have stayed but I wouldn't have been doing my best, which wasn't fair to either me or my employer. By moving on, I can find a position where I can contribute fully, and they can find an employee who will contribute what they need.
When you're at a job interview, your goal is to convince the interviewer that you can do the job. Part of the way you do this is by backing up the credentials listed on your resume with strong answers to the interview questions. Part of the way you do this is by simply appearing confident that you can do the job – nonverbal communication is an important contributor to the impression you make.
Dress the Part
It used to be necessary to wear a suit and tie for every job interview. In tech today, that's no longer the case. Try to find out what's appropriate for the company before your interview. Wearing the wrong clothes will undermine your confidence; wearing clothes that make you look like you fit in will help the interviewer picture you doing the job. Whatever style of dress is appropriate, make sure you wear something you like and feel comfortable wearing.
First impressions form almost immediately and carry a lot of weight. Make eye contact, shake hands firmly, and don't be hesitant when you walk into the room. Sit up firmly in your chair – a chair with a firm back where you'll sit up straight will help you present better than a comfy chair where you slouch down. Keeping your feet solidly on the floor will help you maintain good posture. You don't want to be rigid, but don't be fidgety, either.
If you don't seem interested in the position, the employer probably won't be interested in you. Lean forward during the conversation, but be careful not to intrude on the interviewer's personal space. Avoiding eye contact makes you seem hesitant, but don't engage in a staring contest. Be aware of your voice: tone and speed can make you seem either bored or engaged.
Try not to cross your arms; it's a defensive gesture. It's better to keep your arms loose and to talk with your hands, as long as you don't wave them around crazily. It's also fine to smile; if you look like you're enjoying the topic, the interviewer will enjoy talking with you.
When you do practice interviews, practice your body language as well as your responses to interview questions. It may be harder to overcome habitual behaviors than to come up with answers for tricky questions, but presenting yourself well is an important part of succeeding at interviews.
Whether you’ve been with a company for years or are just accepting a new position, negotiating salary is a tricky prospect. But with a little preparation and the right mindset, you can make the experience far less nerve-wracking — and far more lucrative. Below are a few tips to prepare you to negotiate your salary.
Do your research.
Before starting negotiations, you should know the average salary range for the position. This will give you a solid starting point and show that you have the industry knowledge to back up your income requirement. Always take into account your experience, education, and skill level. If you’re fresh out of college with no experience in the workforce, you’ll likely be on the lower end of that salary range. If you’ve held a similar position for several years or are requesting a raise in your existing job, try to aim for the higher end.
Adjust your mindset.
Many people go into salary negotiations under the mistaken impression that they’re being greedy by requesting a higher salary. While it’s true that you should always be friendly and respectful during these discussions, you should also be assertive. Hiring managers expect you to negotiate, so know your worth and ask for it. You should never be so tied to the outcome of your negotiations that you’re unwilling to take risks. Go into the interview with the knowledge that negotiating your salary is a mutually beneficial partnership with the hiring manager. You aren’t asking for something you don’t deserve.
Practice your tactics.
Always have a strategy in place before you start negotiating. Many recommend that you never give the first number. If the hiring manager pressures you to name a number, try to deflect whenever possible. You can say things like, “What do you think the position is worth?” or refer to your research into the average salary range. Try to get the interviewer to give the first number (it may even be higher than what you were inclined to offer). If they are unwilling to budge on salary, you have other tools at your disposal. You can ask for more vacation days, a flexible bonus structure, relocation fees, or other benefits to compensate for an initially lower salary.
Regardless of the amount, you shouldn’t accept the first offer, especially if it’s lower than what you need or deserve. If necessary, ask for time to think over the offer. If the number is well below your market value, don't be afraid to turn it down. But chances are, if you do your research and determine what your skills and experience are worth, you can come out of the negotiations with a comfortable salary and a strong relationship with your employer.
The job search is often a frustrating process. And that frustration is increased when you keep landing interviews, but never hear the magic words “You’re hired.” It can be especially challenging to fail at the interview stage, because you aren’t able to receive feedback about what was right and what went wrong. The interview is the last stage—and once you’re off, you can’t go back for another curtain call.
There are many reasons why you might not be getting through at the interview stage. Some of them are beyond your control, such as the other qualified candidates you’re up against for the job. But there are some aspects you can control, and improving them will increase your chances of landing the job you want.
Here’s how you can rethink your interview strategy and adjust your approach to get from “don’t call us, we’ll call you” to “When can you start?”
See what the interviewer sees
One effective way to change your interviewing strategies is to change the way you view the interview itself. If you consider it a performance you’re giving (for an audience of one), this change in mindset can help you spot problems you didn’t realize you were having, and improve your delivery to make a better impression.
So how can you review your own performance? Mock interviews, either with a friend or a professional. They will not only give you more practice and help you sharpen your skills, but they’ll also give you the opportunity to assess your interviewing skills from a new perspective. Go through a mock interview and use a webcam or video camera to record the process. Then you can watch yourself with fresh eyes and pick up any inconsistencies or issues you didn’t notice while you were focused on answering questions.
Make it about the interviewer
If you’ve already gone through some less-than-successful interviews and tried to figure out where you went wrong, you probably already know that it’s important to do your homework. Prior to an interview, you should try to learn everything you can about the company and the specific position you’re going for, and work that into the conversation to demonstrate your genuine interest in this particular job.
But how much time do you spend talking about the actual person who’s giving the interview?
A job interview is often as much about a personal connection as a test for skills and qualifications. You can make a connection with your interviewer by being socially generous—steering the conversation toward the interviewer to make them feel smart and accomplished.
Avoid a straightforward question-and-answer session where you do most of the talking. Instead, ask the interviewer questions about themselves, their concerns and issues, their role at the company, and their goals. Get them talking, and respond with relevant points about your own interests and qualifications. If the interviewer feels that you’re genuinely interested in them as a person, your interview will be far more memorable.
Answer the questions you’re not asked
In some cases, there may be an elephant in the room that’s preventing you from having successful interviews. Aside from the obvious possibilities—sloppy appearance or inappropriate dress, bad first impressions, or obvious non-fit for the job—the most common “elephants” in an interview are current unemployment and long gaps in your resume.
Unless you’re entering the workforce for the first time, it’s important to be prepared to explain why you’re not employed, or why there are long periods of time between jobs on your resume. Be proactive in this regard, and bring it up before the interviewer asks (if they’re planning to ask at all). When you can offer a plausible explanation, you’ll put the interviewer at ease and the remainder of the interview will be smoother.
Ask your own (smart) questions
Just about every employer will ask you whether you have any questions for them at the end of the interview—but don’t save your questions until the end. Asking questions at an interview is a very effective way to demonstrate your interest in a particular company. It shows that you’re not only knowledgeable about the organization and the position, but you’ll also be able to make valuable contributions to the company when you’re hired.
Take the time to come up with a list of intelligent questions that you can ask throughout the interview. Save a few for the end, because you should never answer “Do you have any questions for me?” with “No.” And once your final questions have been answered, close the interview by asking whether there are any gaps you haven’t addressed and how you can follow up or move forward.
Show the interviewer that you’re interested, engaged, and valuable as an employee, and you’ll soon find yourself happily employed with your interviewing days behind you.