Rivian execs reveal how to ace a job interview with the Amazon-backed startup

  • Insider asked Rivian's VP of talent acquisition and chief people officer what they look for when interviewing potential employees.
  • Showing passion for Rivian, expertise in your field, and honesty about your weaknesses will help you leave a strong impression.
  • Red flags include using "I" too much and "we" too little when describing your work experience, and showing more interest in employee benefits than what it's like to work at Rivian.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Rivian wants employees who are passionate, humble, and strong problem-solvers. If you interview with the electric-vehicle startup, demonstrating those qualities will help you leave a strong impression.

Insider asked Cindy Nicola, Rivian's vice president of of talent acquisition, and Helen Russell, the company's chief people officer, what they look for when interviewing job candidates. Their answers revolved around the key traits they seek in potential employees.

These are five ways you can leave a positive impression when interviewing for a job at Rivian.

Show that you've done your homework on the company

Nicola said she wants to see job candidates who have strong interest in Rivian and have researched the company before their interview.

"We want to see that they are prepared and that they are intentionally seeking Rivian out," she said.

Read more: A Rivian VP reveals the 5 key traits the Amazon-backed startup looks for in job candidates

Be specific about your accomplishments, but don't make it all about you

To figure out if a job candidate has the skills required for the job they're seeking, Nicola listens for the amount of detail they use to describe the work they've done. 

"We want people that are able to be incredibly specific about what they've done," she said. "If you've ever solved a really tough problem, you never forget it."

But that doesn't mean you should ignore contributions made by coworkers. Russell said she pays attention to how often people use "I" and "we" during interviews since Rivian has a very collaborative culture. 

"If they use the word 'I' and never use the word 'we' — huge red flag," Russell said.

Ask how the company works before you inquire about vacation days

Russell said she makes note of the kinds of questions job candidates ask her. Your questions should revolve around what it's like to work at Rivian, not how many vacation days you'll receive.

Russell recalled a potential employee she interviewed for a senior-level position whose first question was about the company's benefits plan. It didn't leave a good impression.

"That should be at the end of a long list of questions," Russell said.

Read more: REVEALED: How much Tesla, Rivian, and Nikola pay their employees, from engineers to managers

It's okay to be vulnerable

Russell said she likes when candidates use examples from their personal lives during interviews, as it indicates they'll be comfortable being themselves in the workplace. She was impressed by one candidate who compared his approach to coaching his son's little-league baseball team to his strategy for leading mergers and acquisitions.

"The interviews that stand out are where people have shared life experiences as examples of a behavioral attribute that I'm trying to get at or something that was impactful to them," Russell said. "That also shows me that they're going to be comfortable showing up as them."

Also, Nicola said, it's good to be honest about your weaknesses and how you're working to improve them. But avoid cliches like "I work too hard."

"I'm not really a fan of that kind of response," Nicola said. "I actually really prefer when someone can be self-aware and be a little bit vulnerable, because we all have stuff to work on."

A follow-up note after the interview helps

Nicola said she wants her team to lead the follow-up process, but it doesn't hurt to demonstrate your interest by sending a note after your interview.

"Normally, we would send a follow-up right away," Nicola said. "And it's just nice when you get an enthusiastic, passionate response back."

Are you a current or former Rivian employee? Do you have a news tip or opinion you'd like to share? Contact this reporter at [email protected], on Signal at 646-768-4712, or via his encrypted email address [email protected]

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