Lilian Rincon of Google—a company known for its rigorous interview process—breaks it down so that you won’t crumble under pressure. 

By Lilian Rincon
Illustration by José Luis Merino

What’s the best way to approach an important job interview?

Be confident and honest, and don’t shy away from talking about your accomplishments. An interview offers the chance to get to know each other, learn about the team, the role, and say what brought you there. What are the highlights along your career path? What have you done that really complements the role? Be open to the conversation and try not to be too nervous. 

What do recruiters look for in a candidate?

I hope to see whether a role is the right fit for their expertise, interests, passions and skills. I look at how they might fit into the team, their intelligence and how they approach problems. Knowledge of a particular subject is secondary—you can (almost) always learn parts of the job. It’s really about the skill set you’re bringing on day one.

What can help a person stand out?

Creativity, depth and the ability to pivot and think from both a 100,000-foot strategy and a 1-foot view. Honestly, it’s not what you’ve studied or where you’ve worked. It’s more about what kind of impact you’ve had in previous roles or experiences, what kind of problems you’ve solved, and what you like to do in your spare time.

Do you have a favorite question? 

I always ask a question that tells me a bit more about the person—something that wouldn’t come up just talking about their work experience or schooling. I’ve asked about what makes them unique or asked them to share a quirky fact. But I switch it up based on how the conversation is going.

What are the biggest mistakes that people tend to make?

When an interviewee talks too much without listening, boasts about their experience without sharing the details that truly matter for the role, and when someone hasn’t done their research about the company.

Don’t be late, dress the part, come with questions and more advice from HR pros

→  Have your narrative down. Prepare how you will talk about your past experience, specifically in terms of how it relates to the position you are interviewing for. Your story should flow easily, and you should be able to provide specific examples or anecdotes that will make you memorable.

→  Think in advance about your strengths in relation to the specific job as well as what areas might need development. Be ready to talk about how you would address improving these areas. 

→  Follow up. Your thank-you, either an email or a card, should include a reference to something specific that was discussed so that the person can easily recall the conversation.

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Lilian Rincon is the product management director for Google Assistant.