Less is More When It Comes to a Job Interview

Carlonda Reilly says be concise and precise with your answers to interviewers’ questions
Carlonda Reilly, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Kennametal
Carlonda Reilly, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Kennametal

Dr. Carlonda Reilly has been the vice president and chief technology officer at Kennametal for the last three-and-one-half years. As a member of the executive leadership team, she is responsible for leading a global organization of close to 800 in research, development, and advanced engineering, delivering innovative advanced materials, tooling, and wear-resistant solutions to various industries. 

Additionally, she serves on the board of directors for W. L. Gore and Associates, Inc. Prior to joining Kennametal, Carlonda had a 23-year career with the DuPont Company, where she held successive global R&D, manufacturing, marketing, and business management roles. She has cultivated a deep expertise throughout her career in developing and commercializing new product and process innovations, which have proven to deliver significant value and growth. 

She is sought out as a motivational speaker, panelist, and mentor and is a passionate advocate for diversity in STEM careers. Carlonda serves as a board director for St. Vincent College and the Advanced Leadership Institute, and an advisory board member for Carnegie Mellon University Manufacturing Futures Institute and the Carnegie Science Center. She was just recognized by Alumni Spotlight as a Top 100 CTO of 2022 and was inducted into the Women in Manufacturing Hall of Fame in 2021 by the WiM Education Foundation.

As a science professional, you undoubtedly will interview for more than one position throughout your career. Two words to keep in mind as you prepare for your interview: Concise and precise.

Be concise: I have had many hour-long interviews where I was only able to ask one or two questions.  The candidate rambled for long lengths of time and sometimes never got around to answering. Listen intently to the question and be sure to address it! Organize your thoughts and experiences and include a few details to support your answer. Give time for follow-up discussion and for addressing your questions to the interviewer. 

Be precise: A good way for an interviewer to determine whether you might be a good fit for a position is to hear you talk about what you have done in previous roles. When asked a question about how you handled a situation, do not give hypothetical answers, like what you “would do.” 

Address questions by giving specific examples of what you actually “have done,” the results of your actions and how you learned from the experiences. If you talk about a team success, describe the impact that your individual contribution made and relate that to the question at hand. Provide examples that illustrate attributes, like your strengths, teamwork, leadership and how you’ve worked through specific challenges. 

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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