You’ve been selected for an interview! Now what?

06-20-2023 10:20 AM
by Esri Contributor
Esri Contributor
6 0 1,285


Hello again everyone!

When you’re on the hunt for your next job or career, there really isn’t a sweeter e-mail headline than "You’ve been selected for an interview", is there? I am Zak Etem, Support Analyst at Esri, and author of "I Applied to Esri 64 Times Before Getting Hired and Here’s What I Learned". This blog post is a continuation of my experience through the interview process at Esri and my advice to you.

It's truly a remarkable and exciting experience! You've dedicated yourself to this path, following all the necessary steps to get to this point, but now you're in the spotlight, ready to showcase your true potential. This is your golden opportunity to demonstrate your authentic self, your unwavering passion, and convince everyone why you're the perfect match for the position.

In this blog, I will outline some hurdles you may face during an interview process so you can make the most of the interviews. I’ll clue you in on what interview skills/traits companies are looking for and tactics on how to prepare for a smooth interview to lead you to sail right into your dream job.

Yes, and I do mean interviews because for most companies, GIS focused or not, you’ll go through a journey of them such as a phone call, virtual, and in person interviews at the least!
Don’t let this worry or overwhelm you. Remember, a job interview process is a marathon, not a sprint. It's important to pace yourself and stay focused on each step along the way. Climbing the largest mountains is accomplished one small step at a time, one foot after another and a job interview process is no different.


Start with the right frame of mind

When you’ve been notified that you’re going to interview, it’s important to note that your initial interview will be with a member of Talent Acquisition/Human Resources/Recruitment team (different departments/companies label this role differently, so be aware). As part of the hiring team, a recruiter’s individual responsibility is to recommend the right applicants to move forward in the interview process. They have carefully reviewed your resume, cover letter, and any other supporting documents submitted. Since they’ve scheduled an interview with you, they’ve identified you as a good match!

Let’s first talk about preparation and you. You’ll need to be in the right mental state. If you are like me, I often discredit myself and overthink situations. As the interview date approached, I severely began to feel “imposter syndrome”. My first piece of advice is to not be your worst enemy and overthink it. When I interviewed, I feared that I wouldn’t be nearly qualified enough and that I didn’t have enough certifications, job experience, or skills. While all of those things are important they aren’t the full recipe for success.


Soft skills are key

Soft skills are a big part of the selection process. While hard skills are acquired through training and learning, soft skills are inherent aspects of one's personality. Soft skills are what Esri and many other organizations are looking for, defined with one simple word, passion. You can’t teach passion, you can’t learn it. From my conversations with Ronda, I think she states it best:


“Soft skills are essential for success in the workplace as they enable individuals to effectively communicate, collaborate and problem-solve with others.  These skills are important for building positive relationships with colleagues, managing projects effectively, and achieving organizational goals.  Demonstrating these skills during an interview process can also set candidates apart and make them more attractive to potential employers.”

- Ronda Schrenk,

Chief Executive Officer, USGIF | United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation


Some examples of soft skills companies look for are:

  • Effective Communication: Being able to communicate clearly and concisely, both in writing and verbally, is essential for collaborating with teams and interacting with clients. It helps bridge the gap between technical and non-technical people.


  • Problem-Solving: Tech companies value individuals who can think critically and approach complex problems with a logical and analytical mindset. They seek out candidates who can identify, analyze, and propose solutions to technical challenges.


  • A growth mindset: A growth mindset is all about believing in the power of personal growth and improvement. It's the idea that our abilities, intelligence, and talents are not set in stone but can blossom with dedication, effort, and a commitment to continuous learning. People with a growth mindset see challenges and failures as exciting chances to learn and grow. They don't let obstacles bring them down, instead of feeling discouraged by setbacks, they use them as valuable opportunities to become even better versions of themselves.


  • Collaboration: Teamwork and collaboration are key in tech companies since projects often involve cross-functional teams. Employers appreciate candidates who work well with others, contribute ideas, and actively participate in group discussions.


  • Time Management: Meeting project deadlines and effectively managing priorities is crucial in the fast-paced tech industry. Employers seek candidates who can prioritize tasks, manage their time efficiently, and deliver results promptly.


  • Creativity: Tech companies value innovative thinking and creativity. They are interested in candidates who can approach problems from different angles, think outside the box, and come up with unique solutions.


  • Emotional Intelligence: Understanding and managing emotions, both in oneself and others, is important for building positive relationships and fostering effective teamwork. Tech companies often prioritize candidates who can demonstrate empathy, self-awareness, and strong interpersonal skills.


What soft skill scores the highest? My personal vote is having a growth mindset. Someone with a growth mindset is a lifelong learner, self-motivated, and continuously strives to improve. This mindset is big in the tech industry because technology is constantly evolving which requires you to adapt, pivot and grow to the needs of our consumers.


Let your passion shine

My second piece of advice is to let your passion shine through your interview like a light. Embrace your passions and share it in every interview. When it comes to letting your passion shine through during an interview, it's about expressing genuine enthusiasm and excitement for the role you are applying for. Here are some ways to embrace your passions and effectively convey them in any interview:


  • Know your passions, reflect on what truly drives and excites you about your field. Identify the aspects that ignite your enthusiasm and make you feel fulfilled. It could be a specific technology, a problem you're passionate about solving, or the potential impact of your work. Understanding your passions will help you articulate them convincingly during the interview.


  • Share your personal experiences, use real-life examples to demonstrate that passion. Talk about specific projects, initiatives, or challenges that you've tackled and how they fueled your excitement. Discuss how your passion for the subject matter motivated you to go the extra mile or explore innovative solutions. By sharing personal experiences, you give the interviewer a glimpse into your authentic enthusiasm.


  • Showcase proactive learning, highlight your ongoing efforts to expand your knowledge and skills related to your passion. Discuss relevant courses you've taken, books you've read, or projects you've pursued independently to deepen your understanding. This shows that you're not only passionate about the field but also actively investing in your growth and development.


Sharing your passion isn't about forcing enthusiasm but rather genuinely conveying what excites you. By doing so, you demonstrate to the interviewer that you're not just a candidate with the necessary skills, but someone who will bring genuine enthusiasm and dedication to the role.


Tips to consider when beginning the interview process

  • Accept the interview timeslot at the earliest opportunity offered. 
  • Prepare and write out a list of talking points that highlight your experience and the projects you’ve worked on. (This might be a phone interview so you won’t have the opportunity to rely on visuals.)
  • While you are explaining the quantitative impact you had on the project, don’t forget to speak on why the project is important to you, why you chose to work on the endeavor.
  • Expand on how you problem-solved an issue or roadblock in previous work or projects to then later avoid the issue.
  • Body language and nonverbal cues are very important. Make eye contact, sit up straight, and use confident gestures to convey your enthusiasm and professionalism. 
  • Always follow up with a thank-you note or email after each interview to demonstrate your appreciation and keep the conversation going.


What not to do before your interview

  • Overthink it
  • Look too relaxed and nonchalant
  • Not have questions prepared to ask
  • Stay away from “my professor assigned it to me” and more along the lines of “I’ve always been passionate about XYZ and now that my skills have advanced I was able to use my experience with Esri software to view this subject in a whole new way”.
  • Staying quiet or short answers.
  • Bad mouthing or negatively speaking about previous employers.


I'm so happy to share my experience and hopefully provide you with some valuable insights and guidance for your upcoming interviews. Stay on the lookout for my upcoming blog about the technical interview process. Technical interviews can often be challenging. I'll cover important topics, strategies, and how best to prepare to help you navigate technical interviews with confidence.

Best of luck with your interviews and stay tuned for my upcoming blog. Feel free to reach out on LinkedIn if you have any questions!