Jason Concepcion is a Sr. Talent Acquisition Specialist at CU Direct, a technology leader that delivers lending solutions to financial institutions, auto dealers, retailers, and medical providers nationwide. As a progressive company that looks for the best diverse talent, CU Direct prides themselves on seeking and taking care of their employees.
We sat down with Jason to learn about CU Direct’s hiring process. Keep reading for his top 6 tips to put into practice when interviewing with CU Direct.
Tip # 1 Do Your Research
While it may seem obvious, learning about the company you’re interviewing for is crucial. “Before the interview, do some research on CU Direct, our products and services, and even our subsidiary companies,” says Jason. Doing the research will show the interviewer that you are highly interested and that “you did your due diligence in getting to know the company.” Check out their About page to get to know CU Direct and its various projects.
Tip #2 Ask Questions
It’s important to be transparent from the first point of contact with the company, which means asking questions to clarify and gain more information. Jason suggests, “when talking to the recruiter, ask questions. Go into that interview confident and prepared, making sure you have questions for them to figure out if you can succeed, have fun, and prosper with CU Direct. As a recruiter, we gather information and we want you to gather information, too.”
Tip #3 Take Your Time
Pace yourself in the interview. Jason explains that “it’s okay to pause, regroup, and answer questions. When asked about your experiences, taking your time will allow you to think of the situation, how you solved it, and what was the outcome.”
Tip #4 Ask Yourself, ‘What Do I Want to Do?’
Take inventory of what you have accomplished or learned in your professional trajectory so far. “We’re not just looking for what you’ve done, but we are also looking for what you can do and what you want to do,” says Jason. He believes that “those things are just as important as what you’ve done in the past. Your drive and determination will show us where you want to go and ideally, that will organically align with the positions we have here at our company.”
Tip #5 Understand the Job Description
With your resume in hand, consider what experiences best align with the job description. “Valuable work experience can be found almost anywhere. It can come from your first job or it can come from your most recent job,” Jason explains. Whatever small or short experience you have that matches the job description is worth mentioning and explaining, depending on the job you are applying for. Jason explains, “a good understanding of the job description you’re going for, and related positions within the company will give you a greater insight as to what we’re looking for and what you want to highlight or present in regards to this role.”
Tip #6 Don’t Be Afraid to Get Personal
One way to stand out in the interview process is to show that you’ll be a good values fit, so intentionality throughout, and after, the interview can go a long way. Jason suggests sending a thank you email after the interview. “This will make sure that you stand out in front of thousands of applicants,” he says. “Don’t make it generic, tailor the message including details mentioned in the interview, this will show the person that you were completely engaged throughout the interview.”
CU Direct’s personal and careful recruitment process is a reflection of their fun and innovative atmosphere, their value of team members, and commitment to growth. They offer several benefits to their employees, such as a flexible working environment, paid time off, 401k match, college tuition reimbursement, and an exciting company culture. Because of this, they want to make sure people are treated with the same kindness and positivity from the start. As Jason reiterates: “We want to make sure you are prepared and ready for each step of this process, from interviewing, to asking questions, and to possibly onboard in the future,” says Jason.
Are you interested to find out more about working at CU Direct? Check out their openings here!
Trenton Miller is a senior manager in recruiting operations at Karat^, the first dedicated technical interview marketplace. With over a decade of experience in technical recruiting at companies like Amazon, Google, and Remitly, Trenton is passionate about equipping diverse professionals with opportunities to strategically grow in their careers.
We sat down with Trenton to learn more about the work Karat is doing, what types of candidates they’re looking for, and how you can stand out in the interview process. Read on for his answers!
Why did you join Karat?
I wanted to help build a company and a product that was making a difference. One that is providing an opportunity to close the Interview Access Gap, and one that isn’t afraid to be vocal about it.
Can you tell us more about the Interview Access Gap and how it relates to Karat’s mission?
We know that the best products are innovated by diverse teams. We thrive when underrepresented groups have a seat at the table, and Karat's purpose is to unlock opportunities for folks of all identities, backgrounds, and perspectives.
Karat's unique business model focuses on unlocking opportunities for both companies and job seekers. We believe the interview status quo hinders the potential for individuals and companies to thrive. Many organizations cannot conduct the number of interviews with the quality and consistency needed to hire great team members, creating an Interview Gap. Inconsistent interviews and restrictive screening processes inject bias and remove companies from robust, diverse talent pipelines, creating an Access Gap. These artificial barriers contribute to the growing inequality in the world by locking talented candidates from many backgrounds out of life-changing jobs.
Karat's Interviewing Cloud increases access to fair and predictive live technical interviews while rigorously measuring and optimizing the impact on underrepresented candidates. Our team identifies strategies for building diverse talent pipelines and leveling the playing field throughout the entire hiring process, well beyond the technical interview.
How does your work in recruiting contribute to that overall mission?
Within Karat itself, my work is centered around ensuring the recruiting team can be as productive in their hiring as possible — from building reporting and dashboard tools to ensuring our tools and integrations are working well. I [think about] how we can make sure we can hit [our target] numbers as quickly and easily as possible, while still focusing on diversity and bringing in strong talent in general.
What is the interview process at Karat like?
Our interview process is pretty direct and universal across organization.So no matter what role — technical or non-technical — our first step is a quick screen to ensure the fundamentals of the role are there. For software engineers, this includes going through an interview using the Karat platform. And for others it would be a 1:1 conversation with a member of the team.
After the phone screen, candidates will have a virtual onsite interview. This targeted interview is done with a small handful of team members. Pending the role, there may be a panel case study or brainstorming session with a few members of the interviewing team.
What’s one thing you look for in each applicant, regardless of role?
I think passion fits well here. This can be pretty variable by role, but ultimately it is hearing or even seeing the excitement you have in the work you have done. I love you being excited about building things, being excited about what you've done, and it could be a side project internally that has nothing to do with your role, even. It helps me know what makes you tick, and sometimes that specific role we are discussing may not be that right fit, but it will help us find that right fit internally.
What’s something you see on a resume that makes you stop and want to learn more about the applicant?
I want to see what a candidate’s built. Knowing what you built, how you impacted a product, what processes you implemented, no matter if you owned the entire project or were a part of a team, would lead me to following up on your application. When you say ‘I participated in something,’ that’s still not telling me [what you contributed to that project].
As a recruiter, what’s one thing you wish candidates did more often during the interview process?
Simply put: I wish candidates would ask us more questions when preparing for the interview, especially the final stage. I think a lot of individuals assume they know what to expect in interviews. But I think no matter what, you should sit down with a recruiter and just ask some candid questions. Take some one-on-one time, come prepared with questions, and ask what success has looked like in some of the interviews.
What are a few of Karat’s core values? How can an applicant show that they’re aligned with them?
I’ll pick three: celebrate, own it, and create the future. We celebrate one another and learn from our failures, we move quickly to solve the problem, and we operate first from principles and value innovation.
To show alignment with these values you just need to know your work and some of the nuances of projects you’ve worked on. Try to remember that 2 minute moment where you raised your hand to ask a question at the start of development which pivoted a project that had a 6 month long development cycle. Let my team ask the questions to pull you to those values, and knowing your work really well will enable them direct the follow up questions toward any of [those values].
Last but not least, what’s some of the work at Karat you’re most excited about?
Brilliant Black Minds is a new initiative by Karat dedicated to helping Black professionals enter the tech industry. It’s its own business line and entity itself. Anthony D. Mays left Google to become the program’s senior advisor, and Serena Williams has actually come on board to help grow the program, so it’s really exciting to be a part of!
With Brilliant Black Minds, Karat is using their Interviewing Cloud to help aspiring Black engineers gain interview experience. We’re working directly with universities to expand Brilliant Black Minds [to all groups underrepresented in tech]. I don't know what that will ultimately look like, but its goal is to remove the access gap for everyone.
No matter how experienced you may be, job interviews can be intimidating.
Whether you’re walking into it brimming with confidence or stifled with anxiety, there’s really no telling how an interview will go.
And oftentimes, a weak response to hard-hitting questions can be a big enough mistake to ruin the entire interview– and your hopes of getting the job.
Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. And as dreaded as some interview questions can be, you can use them to your advantage and showcase why you’re the best candidate for the role. Keep reading to learn more about one of the best techniques that you can use to ace your interview: the STAR method.
What is the STAR Method?
The STAR method is a simple format designed to help you eloquently and meaningfully answer some of the toughest questions in job interviews. This method gives you the opportunity to prove your professional skills through a well-communicated story of your own experience.
These questions, known as behavioral or situational interview questions, are important for employers to ask because they reveal how you will respond to situations and conflicts that arise in the role you’re interviewing for. By breaking down your example experience into four parts, the STAR technique will help you craft a response that is clearly articulated, professional, and meaningful, and showcase your competency in the workplace.
Choosing the Right Story
Before we jump into how to use the method, let’s get clear on the questions that you can use it for. Behavioral questions usually begin with something like:
Tell me about a time when…
Give me an example of…
What do you do when…
Because there are many ways behavioral questions can be asked, there are an infinite number of stories that you could use as examples. This gives you the freedom to cater the situation to your unique experience, but it can also make choosing a story difficult.
Luckily, there are a six categories of situational stories you can always fall back on:
- An example of something unique or interesting that you have done in your life
- An example of you problem solving
- An example of you remedying a mistake you made
- An example of your success as a teamplayer
- An example of you overcoming an obstacle
- An example of your success as a leader
Once you’ve thought of some stories, the STAR method will help you format them into a manageable response.
Using the STAR Method
The STAR method has four parts: Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Each section of this technique contains a portion of your story. By breaking it down into four manageable parts, you will be able to craft an example certain to impress your interviewer.
Let’s break it down!
The first step is to set the scene.
Like any good narrative, your story needs context. Regardless of how applicable your example may be, failure to explain the setting can leave your interviewer confused. So, remember to be as clear and concise as possible. Who were the people involved? What events were occurring? What challenge or challenges were you facing?
Remember to only share relevant background information and work experience. As confusing as a lack of context can be, it can be equally as messy to bog your answer down with unnecessary detail.
The second step is to explain the task.
This is where you will illustrate your role or responsibility in the story. What was your goal or task? Who assigned you this responsibility? What was the desired outcome?
This is your chance to explain your response to the situation so that your interviewer can understand what your goal was and why. Much like the Situation portion, this part of your answer should be brief. Only include enough information to make your point clear.
The third step is to reveal the action you took to accomplish the task.
Your interviewer is aware of the situation and what your goal was to resolve it, now it’s time to explain how you went about getting the desired outcome. What steps did you take to achieve success?
This is the most crucial out of all the STAR method steps. Your actions will show the employer whether or not you are suitable for the role you are interviewing for. They will be looking for you to “display a high level of assertiveness, confidence, and good decision-making skills,” so it’s important to avoid a vague or lazy response. It’s important to remember that your interviewer is looking for specific characteristics, so they are less interested in your goal and more in how you approached it.
The final step is to explain the outcome of your actions.
You’ve talked about the situation, your task, and what steps you took to accomplish it, now you need to reveal the final results. Was the situation resolved? Did you reach your goal? Did the final outcome meet your expectations? If not, how did it differ?
This is your time to truly make yourself stand out. Whether it was a lesson you learned, a catastrophe avoided, or a positive impact on the company, your story’s conclusion should be upbeat, meaningful, and a display of your skills. Be specific in your achievements– you’re aiming to impress!
Remember, behavioral questions, however tough, are a way for you to prove your skills and experience to the employer. Use the STAR method to show that you have what it takes to be successful in the position– and ace your job interview while you’re at it!
💎Prepare for your interview at Equinix with some great tips from the company’s recruiters. Watch the video till the end to learn about Equinix’s application process and how you can stand out!
📼 Get ready for an interview at Equinix with the insights shared by their recruiters: Tori Smith, Global Talent Acquisition Recruiter, and Kelly Mackey, Talent Recruiter for the Operations Team. Together, they’ll reveal tips and tricks about Equinix's interview process and give you some insights into how to prepare.
📼 When preparing for an interview with Equinix, what is the importance of cross-functional skills? First and foremost, Tori will be looking at your attitude, aptitude, and potential. No matter the technical skills they seek, their interest is to see how you work as a teammate and member of a larger organization. (That's your attitude.) For your aptitude, they’ll focus on the previous skills you attained, plus your ability to learn new skills. Lastly, they’ll evaluate your potential. What does your unique background bring to the team that’s new and different? And how can you apply that to make an impact within the bounds of what Equinix is already doing?
📼 At the interview with Equinix, every candidate should come prepared with what Kelly calls an “elevator speech” to answer the question: “Tell me about yourself!” The best way to respond to that is, “Where do you want me to start?” When assessing candidates, Tori will be asking a lot of different questions. What happens if you don't have the answer to a question? In Tori’s view, that's totally okay! If that happens, take a minute to walk the recruiter through how you might approach the question. Next, if it's a technical interview, share your expertise. They'd like to see how you use your knowledge in play. Remember: when you're interviewing, it's your time to shine. Share how you made an impact in previous roles by using numbers, statistics, and any other information that'll help. Provide data on how you’ve made a positive difference at your last job.
Interview With Equinix - Resume and Research Tips
Key tip: Tailor your resume to the specific requirements and responsibilities listed in the job description. You should craft your resume with keywords from the job description so that it screams, “Good fit!” Before the interview, do some research on Equinix and their business model. Learn about the Equinix Data Center, and review anything else you can find on the web. Showing the recruiter your investment in learning about the company will prove your investment in the overall hiring process! Additionally, check out what candidates are saying about their interview experiences on Glassdoor, where you can also check out Equinix’s CEO's ratings.
🧑💼 Are you interested in joining Equinix? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Tori and Kelly
Tori’s pronouns are she/they, and they’re a Talent Acquisition Recruiter and Global Program Lead at Equinix. The programs they lead focus on inclusion and belonging in the hiring process and the workspace, and the positions they’re recruiting for focus on the new-to-career and internship space. Do you want to work for a Fortune 500 company that makes sure every employee feels safe, that they belong, and they matter? If so, send them a DM on LinkedIn to connect!
Kelly is a Seasoned full-cycle Recruiter with a history of success combined with building solid industry relationships. She has comprehensive experience in recruiting, onboarding, and aftercare. Her goals are to provide a positive & consultative experience for prospects and clients.
If you are interested in a career at Equinix, you can connect with Tori and Kelly on LinkedIn!
More About Equinix
Equinix is the world’s digital infrastructure company. Leading companies depend on Equinix’s trusted platform to offer their services seamlessly and enable migration to hybrid cloud models quickly. Also, interconnect with partners, customers and employees easily, and at the same time innovating to deliver world-class experiences. With 220+ data centers in offices around the globe, Equinix has enjoyed 70+ consecutive quarters of growth while powering the world’s digital leaders.