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We sat down with a handful of career coaches with previous experience and track records of hiring at the top FAANG companies. Here’s what they had to say.

  1. “Assume you are average”

On average, 1% of people who apply to FAANG companies get the job. (It’s easier to get into Harvard). Out of those that get to the first interview, about 6.1% of them get hired. Out of those that get to the final interview, about 26% get hired. While we like to think that we are better than average, it’s best to assume that we are part of these statistics. When we do, we can take a more realistic approach to the job search.

In other words…

  • Getting past the resume screening is hard. You should be spending a lot of time crafting the right CV and applying to companies. Expect that it’s going to take you at least 100 applications+ before you get a job.
  • Nailing the first interview is pretty hard, too. Spend a lot of time understanding the company culture and role, and practicing mock interviews.
  • Once you’re at the final stages, you’ve got a quarter chance of landing the role. You only need to do this 3–4 times before you’re likely to land an offer.
  1. Do not study canned interview responses or the employee manual.

The company you want to work for will not test you on your ability to memorize information. Of greater concern, you will put the interviewer to sleep. Job interviews and cover letters are replete with the same copycat responses, which can make up to 25–50 percent of the interview. Since interviewers hear these canned responses all day, using them is a sure way to lose their attention. As soon as you see the eyes of the interviewer glaze over – a sign of boredom —you know you’ve lost their attention and the job.

Companies today ask behavior-based interview questions (many of these are canned, too). One sure  way to differentiate yourself from other candidates and make an impression is to formulate your responses using the STAR technique — situation, task, action result. Join Misha, a Carrus coach, for instruction on how to use The STAR Framework for FAANG Interviews.

  1. Don’t treat the interview like an exam.

It’s not. If you’ve applied for a job as a software engineer, chances are you will be asked to think on your feet, literally. At Amazon, for example, do not be surprised to be asked to answer coding questions on a chalkboard in front of the interviewers.  Sure, they will be impressed by your coding knowledge and skills, but even more important are your analytical thinking skills and communication style.  How do you display these sought-after skills? Check out more here: Top Tips on Nailing the Technical Interview from ex-Amazon & ex-Google Engineers.

  1. Do not present yourself as a Yes-sirree! conformist.

Here’s a surprising question Apple hiring staff ask themselves about a potential candidate: Do they display grit? The Apple manager is seeking passion and idealism, the person who is going to debate and question the status quo, according to CEO Tim Cook.  But do not argue for argument’s sake.  You will walk through the hiring door for the last time.  Apple seeks people who are defending principle-based ideals, a way to make technology and the world better,

Apple is going to hire you for your attitude and then train you in the skills required to do your job.  This ethos is echoed in many quotes from Steve Jobs:

Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. 

It’s better to be a pirate than to join the Navy.

  1. Ask difficult questions. Your interview will inevitably end with the opportunity to ask your potential future employer a few questions. You could ask very simple questions to ensure the interviewer can easily answer them. Or you could ask very difficult questions to impress them with your advanced knowledge of their business. But if the interviewer ends up squirming in his chair trying to answer a tough question, he will likely consider you a threat.

Alternatively, you could do lots of research on the company and ask questions of genuine interest to you. The interviewer will be delighted to answer a question about the company or job position he is passionate about. Your question may pertain to an area of the business they helped develop and are eager to share information about with you.

  1. Do not come across as invincible.

Invoke your weaknesses and ask the interviewer to help you achieve your career goal. For example, Amazon is known for asking questions about your ‘biggest failure’ and expect a juicy response that shows you’ve fallen on your face and learned from it. Don’t sugarcoat it.

It’s true that HR interviewers often come across as unfeeling robots as they ream off question after question. People who choose the human resource field above all like people. They typically have an empathetic attitude, lots of patience, and a natural gift for mentoring people.  Explain your situation and ask for their advice. As always, personalize do not generalize your interview questions.

  1. If you don’t get the job, apply again and again. You did not get the job on your first attempt. That’s okay, most people don’t. Now take a step back to re-strategize your job search approach. You had an interview with Facebook. Apple and Google did not acknowledge your resume.

If Facebook has flown you across the country for interviews, the company considers your profile a strong match for its culture.  So where would you place your odds of getting the job? You may not have succeeded in getting the job in the first, second, or third interview, but you certainly should try for Amazon positions in the future.

And the best advice on how to land the job in your future attempts will likely come from your failed interview attempts. Many articles have been written purporting to have the secrets of how to land a job at Facebook. Lucky you, you have the undivided attention of the Facebook interviewer and can ask for guidance directly.

For more tips on how to conquer subsequent interviews, a Carrus coach shares tips on how to succeed in landing the job after multiple tries by improving your qualifications, training, certifications, and interview skills.

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