In the last three years, my team has interviewed thousands of top college students from hundreds of universities across the United States. Students always tell us that they want to join Sage Corps’ global entrepreneurship program. However, many cannot show us why. When asked, only some articulate a deep understanding of our program even after reviewing the website and filling out a lengthy application. Why are many of America’s best and brightest falling short in their interviews? There are likely multiple factors at play, but I think we can help solve the broader problem with a handful of simple steps that students can apply to any professional interview:
We received over 1,000 applicants for our latest cohort. Of those, we selected a portion to invite for interviews. If you receive an interview invitation, you should respond as soon as possible. Your response time reveals your interest and engagement level (I realize there are exceptions). We do not recommend waiting a week to respond. If you have since accepted another offer, please let us know. It’s best to respond to emails from all potential employers and to build your broader network along the way.
Read our website, cover-to-cover. Everything. Look up our team on LinkedIn (get on LinkedIn if you haven’t already). Learn about our team’s professional and/or personal background and see where we have connections with you. Additionally, do some research about startups. Know what they are and why working at a startup is an interesting opportunity at this specific point in your education and career development.
Tell Your Story
Why you? Why not one of the hundreds of other similar applications in the stack? Be memorable. We can read your résumé. What we don’t know, however, is how you can weave your résumé into your broader “professional narrative”—your story. Pull in anecdotes that humanize your experience and show us why you would be a good fit to help scale a startup.
We’re excited about Sage Corps, and want you to be, too! We conduct video interviews so that we can get a sense of the person behind the paper. If you aren't excited enough about this professional opportunity to smile during your interview, or when visualizing yourself in the role, you probably applied to the wrong place.
Say 'Thank You'
A thank you note goes a long way in separating you from the rest. You can include some things that excited you during the interview. This is also a great way to build your network and be memorable.
Everyone gets nervous during the first few interviews. Once you get the hang of it, interviewing can actually be fun. Just remember to be friendly, polite, and engaged. While you chat with our team, we want to make sure that you feel comfortable with us, and that our program is the best fit for you. Always remember that you can turn the interview on the interviewer. We want this opportunity to be a partnership - you should learn about us as we learn about you.
Good luck - we hope to meet you soon!
P.S. Here are a few questions you may be asked during your interview:
Why are you interested in Sage Corps?
What do you hope to get out of the Sage Corps experience?
Which academic, professional, or life experiences have prepared you to make an impact at a startup?
How would you pitch yourself to a startup and show that you could bring value to them?