My Top Advice for Interviewing, Elevating Your Career, Changing Fields and Much More

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Natalie Aubin

Image courtesy of Qualtrics.

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Natalie Aubin can’t say enough about her passion for her employer and job as an Associate Manager, Talent Acquisition at Qualtrics, an experience management software company. 

Not only does she get to work “surrounded by phenomenal people who are willing to learn, teach and lift others up around them,” says Aubin, but she also gets to “help match people to careers that change their lives!”

When interviewing candidates, Aubin typically looks for three main qualities:

  1. Relevance of experience or transferable skills

  2. Loyalty to their job or company

  3. How they stand out in their role compared to peers

For more advice on how to ace your interview, Qualtrics' great culture, elevating career skills, changing roles, common interview mistakes and more, read what Aubin had to say below.

What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?

I first read about caring personally in Radical Candor by Kim Scott. Scott writes, “Part of the reason why people fail to ‘care personally’ is the injunction to ‘keep it professional’... We are all human beings, with feelings, and, even at work, we need to be seen as such.”

I’ve since heard that phrase from my manager during leadership training at Qualtrics and from many other leaders in the company. I have it on a sticky note on my desk as a constant reminder to care personally, no matter the hat I’m wearing.

As a recruiter, what are three things about Qualtrics you make sure to highlight when talking to a candidate? 

I typically highlight the culture, our products and positioning in the market and career growth. These are not only things that personally excite me about Qualtrics but are clear differentiators for us as a company. 

The culture is one thing that drew me to Qualtrics seven years ago and a major factor that has kept me here ever since. To me, culture means two things: values and people. We truly live by our cultural values, which can be difficult for most companies. And, you’re surrounded by phenomenal people who are willing to learn, teach and lift others up around them. Who wouldn’t value working in an environment surrounded by people like this?

Lastly, but most importantly, is the opportunity for career growth. If you’re not joining a company for career growth, then what are you doing?

What advice do you have for women who are looking to elevate their career?

Internally, make yourself stand out! Think of ways to get creative and to break the mold. Try to take on responsibilities at that next level, beyond your immediate job scope, and do everything you can to deliver. Don’t let the fear of failure deter you from taking on large, challenging opportunities. You might fail, but you’ll grow from that. And, if you succeed, you’ll elevate yourself and your confidence by taking on and executing larger and scarier challenges and be recognized for doing so.

Externally, make sure you’re at the right company. Sure, being at the biggest companies in any industry has its advantages, but they’re also already well-established businesses that are more likely than not in maintenance mode than growth mode. If you want to elevate your career, find a small-to-medium agile business that’s in clear growth mode. 

Not only will your impact be felt more in a company at this stage, but there may be opportunities beyond your current position's scope that you could take on to gain more experience. Also, look for businesses with a robust diversity, equity and inclusion plan. You know these businesses are putting a lot of emphasis on equality and have more opportunity for deserved advancement than companies lagging in this area. 

I personally recruit sales professionals across all levels as well as sales leadership. Sales is an easy(er) profession to show impact because there’s typically a quota of some kind that you’re striving to achieve.

To stand out as an applicant, flaunt those performance numbers! Did you take maternity leave or a break in your professional career to raise those kiddos? That’s more than okay and should be respected by employers. Report on your reduced quota (if you had one), or discuss your experience ramping back up into the workforce. It’s hard to transition back to work, and being able to show that you persevered goes a long way.

What tips do you have for women considering a career change?

It’s easy to stay in a role and industry you’re comfortable with, especially when you have yourself or a family to support, along with other factors. There’s always risk associated with a move like this. I encourage women to bet on themselves! You don’t want to look back 10-20 years later and wish you had made a change.

To make a move feel less “risky,” do your research! If you aren’t in a hurry to make a move, see if there are projects you can take on at your current company that will help you build on skills you need for this new role. Maybe you’ll find out that you hate the work required for the role you thought you wanted. Or, maybe, you LOVE it and have even more confidence in your ability to do the job. Plus, you now have relevant experience. 

Do some research on other people working in the role already. What kind of experience and skills do they have? Pull out common themes. That will help you understand what the most relevant and impactful attributes are to emphasize about your personal skills and experience on your resume. Transferable skills are just as important as experience. You should also use those as talking points during an interview.

On that note, when considering a completely new role, look internally at your current company. When you have a strong internal brand, they might be willing to take a chance on someone with less experience who’s proven themselves in other ways. 

When considering a new industry, arm yourself with knowledge. The hardest thing about transitioning from a different industry, in most cases, is developing an understanding for it. If you can show interviewers that, while you haven’t had experience in their specific industry, you still have strong knowledge of it and the ability to pivot, then they may be more likely to take a chance on you. 

Lastly, network! That’s a great way to break into new industries and roles. The more champions you have on your side, the better. 

What’s your go-to interview question for all candidates? 

I always ask these three things no matter the role I’m interviewing for:

  1. “Why are you interested in Qualtrics?” Or, if I reached out to them, “What got you interested in taking the call to learn more?”

    • This tells a lot about a person’s motivations and how they’ll culturally mesh with the company. I want to see if they’ve done their homework and not only care about getting a job here over other companies but believe in what we do.
  2. “How have you differentiated yourself from peers?”

    • I’m looking for performance-related answers. Hard numbers are great if you have them, or maybe it’s ratings, awards or other forms of recognition depending on how performance is evaluated in your role. Still don’t have anything like this in your current role to emphasize? Think about special opportunities you’ve been given that may show you are a trusted top performer. Maybe you were chosen for an important project or to mentor new hires. You’re doing something right if they want you to teach others!
  3. “What are 2-3 pieces of advice or constructive feedback you’ve received from a manager? How have you taken action on that feedback?” 

    • I want to see that the candidate is self-aware of the areas they need to improve, is open to receiving feedback and takes action on the feedback they receive to continue to better themselves. Coachability is an invaluable trait employers look for.

How do you suggest candidates prepare for an interview at your company?

At Qualtrics in particular, I highly recommend candidates research who we are and what we do. Learn about our value proposition and how our product impacts businesses. The more someone can tell me, the more I believe they are genuinely excited about Qualtrics. 

I also expect candidates to have a good understanding of the details of the job they’re interviewing for. I don’t expect anyone to be an expert, but if they’re applying for a role that they’ve had prior experience in, then there should be a lot of similarities between our job and the roles they’ve held. If they ask educated, well-thought-out questions using standard buzzwords you’d find in the role, that tells me they know what they're talking about.

I highly recommend developing a list of questions before the interview and writing down questions throughout based on your discussion. I can always tell how well a candidate is paying attention and understands the job by the questions they ask.

How do you suggest women get through automated systems? What about making that personal connection?

Take another look at your resume and make sure it screams results! Don’t be afraid to brag about your accomplishments, and have your resume reflect that. At the same time, tailor your resume to be as relevant to that job as possible. If you are applying to three very different jobs, then your resume should look somewhat different for each of those. 

When it comes to making personal connections, you can try a few things. First, look to see if you have any connections at the company. At Qualtrics, data shows that referrals have a much higher chance of getting through our process. 

If you don’t have first connections, reach out to current employees or recruiters. But do this thoughtfully. Don’t reach out to the whole recruiting team. Do some research to see who recruits for the job family you’re applying to on LinkedIn, and start there. The closer you get to the right person, the better chance you have of getting a response. 

When reaching out to employees, see who’s currently in the role you want. Ask for a networking call to understand more about what they do and vice versa. After that, they may feel comfortable enough to refer you to the role themselves. The more ways you can get your name in front of those that matter, the better.

What are your biggest tips for what NOT to do when applying or interviewing at a company?

Don’t forget to triple check your resume for grammatical errors. In my experience, most companies put more weight on the resume than the interviews themselves.

Don’t apply to more than two jobs. At Qualtrics, we can see which jobs people are applying to. If they apply to a bunch of unrelated jobs, that tells us they’re uncertain what they want to do and might not have longevity or passion for any of the roles they did apply for. If you aren’t sure what you want to do, apply for a few that look the most relatable to what you’ve done or what you’d like to do. From there, talk to a recruiter to see if they have any other areas they recommend and let them pivot your application. 

Don’t forget to treat recruiters and interviewers with respect. I know it feels silly to have to say this, but I see this more than I’d like to. In my personal experience at Qualtrics, no matter who you are or how senior you are, we treat one another with respect. Luckily, I haven’t seen this situation very often, but when hiring managers hear about instances where candidates have been demeaning to our employees, there’s a high likelihood that they’re not moved forward in the process.


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