Applying for a job can feel daunting. Arielle Gross Samuels is a Meta (formerly known as Facebook) leader who runs the company’s Global Environmental, Social and Governance Business. In her time at the company, she has interviewed more than 300 candidates, and she sat down with Jessica Abo to share her pro tips to help you nail your next job interview.
Jessica Abo: Before we get into your tips, can you tell us how you got your foot in the door when you started at Meta, which was called Facebook back then, in 2013?
Arielle Gross Samuels: Right out of college, I worked at Deloitte in Chicago for a few years and decided I wanted to pivot to tech. Following many conversations with the Facebook recruiting team, I flew out to interview for a Product Specialist role based in our headquarters in Menlo Park. It was a very exciting day, and I got the job offer within 48 hours. Over the last nearly 9 years at the company, I’ve done a range of roles including most recently founding my global team that focuses on Environmental, Social, and Governance business. Throughout my career and as I’ve built teams, I’ve had the opportunity to hire stellar talent — and have interviewed over 300 candidates — so I’m excited to have the conversation today.
Let’s dig into key phases of interviewing: How do you think about the interviewing process. What pro tips can you share about how to ace them and common pitfalls to avoid?
I view interviews as some of the most important meetings that we have in our lifetime. There are five key phases to how I approach them.
1. Build a resume that gets noticed
- Do: Outline your impact, not your input. Focus on what results you drove, with as many numbers as possible to tell the magnitude of the story.
- Own your impact and the value you brought.
- Have a single typo or use jargon.
- Ramble on about situations — focus on impact that will break through.
2. Prepare for nailing your interview
- Read recent news about company, listen to the most recent earnings call if public, read up on who’s interviewing you, prepare scripted answers for expected questions that follow the STAR format (situation, task, action, result), prepare questions for your interviewer that reflect your diligence and POV.
- Common questions to anticipate:
- Why do you want the job?
- What would you do in the first 6 months to a year if you got the job?
- Tell me about a time when you worked through challenges and what you learned?
- Practice speaking your answers out loud, and have friends and family do mock interviews with you so you tighten and refine your story.
- Assume this will be a breezy interaction and you already know the information, or assume that you’ve got the job even if you’re a competitive candidate.
3. Show up with confidence
- Engage as people first. Share a warm greeting, ask about your interviewer’s day etc.
- Optimize for brevity. When giving an overview of your career, it’s important to focus on key highlights and then target exactly why you would add value back to the job and employer in reference — rather than giving a reverse chronological history of your work.
- Talk poorly about your current employer.
- Talk too fast — manifest confidence in your composure.
4. Ensure your body language is positive
- Power pose ahead of time if necessary to work through the jitters — that’s one of my favorite tips that I did before my interviews.
- Read the room. Does your interviewer look distracted or confused? Pause and ask “have I answered your question?”.
- Smile and share warmth.
- Consider your backdrop and outfit — what are you conveying optically?
- Focus on eyesight and connect as much as possible.
- Read notes.
- Type on your computer — have paper and a pen handy to take notes.
5. Follow up with urgency
- Send a thank-you note the same day sharing your appreciation and any key takeaways from the conversation.
- A handwritten note is extra special!
- Let days go by without acknowledging someone else’s time.
What should people do if they get a question they don’t want to answer or if they freeze during a job interview?
It’s okay to be human. I know that this is really uncomfortable, but I’d share a few thoughts when you freeze and you don’t know what to say. The first is it’s okay to ask for more time. You’re allowed to say, “Oh, that’s a really good question. Let me think about it.” Take 10 seconds, really pause, reflect on the question and your best answer to it.
Second, it’s okay to punt and say, “You know what? That’s a really good question. Can we come back to it? Nothing’s coming to mind right now. Can we circle back?” Let the interviewer take note to come back to that question towards the end of the conversation.
Lastly, and this is really important, if you don’t have a great answer, it’s okay to say, “You know what? I don’t know, but let me follow up.” And I always prefer that in an authentic and true way than making something up, right? Because it’s really clear when people are not being authentic in their interviews.