Knowing Yourself – Preparing for Interviews and Networking

By: Derek Yun

As a student in business school, networking and interviewing can be daunting tasks that seem to never end. It’s always important to complete the steps of researching the company, industry, and position to feel prepared; however, another important aspect students sometimes forget to prepare for is knowing themselves. Knowing who you are in terms of your strengths, weaknesses, passions, ambitions, values, skills, interests, etc. is crucial to landing that dream job, internship, or clearly communicating what you are looking for and why during networking.

Knowing yourself is an important aspect of being comfortable in an interview. Truly understanding your flaws and best qualities allows you to make a strong impression as the other person can see that you’ve taken the time to reflect on yourself and you are able to understand the value you can add to the specific role, company, or situation. It can also indicate someone with a potentially higher level of maturity when they’re realistic about their personal traits and ambitions. When you are networking, knowing yourself can help explain the “why” when you’re looking at a specific position or certain industry and also helps the person you’re speaking with, be it a recruiter or alumni, understand more about how you’ll be a fit, the information they can provide, and can help make the interaction feel genuine.

The process of knowing yourself might sound easy, but how exactly can one begin to do it? One helpful place to start might be by asking those familiar to you how they would describe you. Once you know how those closest to you might see you, expand it a bit wider as those in your outer circle may see you differently than those closer to the inside. Use this information to not only grasp what might be strengths or positive character descriptions for yourself, but also to learn more about how you may present in different settings. This can help give a full picture of yourself and might give you a better insight into how an interviewer or networking connection may see you. From there you can also begin to ask yourself (and answer) the other questions related to yourself that will inevitably come up in an interview or networking conversation. For example, why X company, why X position, why X industry? Knowing yourself helps answer these in a more poignant and significant way as you can connect each answer back to you and illustrate the tie between you and your goal.

Any time you are interviewing or networking, you want to be as prepared as possible. When doing your company, position, and/or industry research, don’t forget to do that research on yourself too. After all, they are hiring YOU, not just your skills, knowledge, or abilities.

By Trish Harper