Preparing for Interviews
Preparation is the most crucial step in the interview process; this could be your only chance to impress the potential employer. Here are some helpful tips to ensure a productive interview:
- Know all the details about the interview such as the exact location, directions, interview time and the names and titles of everyone you will be meeting. Most of all, be on time! Make sure to take into consideration traffic, construction, parking, etc. and aim to arrive 5-10 minutes early.
- Research the company. The internet allows you to have an incredible amount of information at your fingertips so take advantage of it. Go to the company’s website to learn about their annual revenues, principal lines of business, market position and recent press releases. Google is also a great source for company news and information.
- Find out from your recruiter what skills are important to the hiring manager. Be ready to explain how you have utilized or demonstrated these specific skills and how they’ve helped you obtain positive results in the past. If you have access to a job description, make sure to align as many relevant skills you have that relate to the responsibilities of the position you’re interviewing for. The more interested the company is, the better your chances are for moving further in the interview process.
- Dress professionally. Although many companies have adopted a business casual dress code, first impressions are very important and you only get once chance to do it. It’s better to overdress than underdress for an interview so always wear a suit or something close to it unless you’re informed otherwise.
- Prepare relevant questions. Questions allow you the opportunity to better understand the position, as well as reinforce your interest from the client’s point of view. Click here for a list of sample interview questions.
- Make sure to ask for a business card and following up with a thank you note within 24 hours of interview is an ideal way to remind the hiring manager of your interest, ability and professionalism. In addition, for each person you met with, cite a specific detail or conversation blurb in your email. They’ll appreciate the personal touch and also know you were paying attention. Click here for a sample thank you note.
During the Interview: Additional Pointers To Help You Get the Job! (Click Here)
- Let the interviewer and/or hiring manager guide the interview. Be conscious to not dominate the conversation and keep your answers short and concise unless asked to expand further.
- Maintain good eye contact. Body language is critical in an interview as it is a key indication of your listening and communication skills. A smile and firm handshake still go a long way.
- Sell yourself, but don’t be overconfident. When discussing success you’ve had in your career or on a project, make sure to give credit where credit is due. Portray yourself as a team player and you’ll be recognized for it.
- Don’t speak ill of former employers. Everyone has dealt with challenging situations in their career which savvy interviewers may probe for more information; but make sure to stay on your toes and not say something you’ll regret. It’s okay to discuss general issues at an old company, but recommend solutions you’ve come up with and end things on a positive note by turning a negative into a positive.
- Try not to analyze the position during the interview or make a quick decision if you want the job unless it’s truly not a match. Take some time to evaluate if this is a good career opportunity and until you have an offer in hand, there are no major decisions to be made.
- Be enthusiastic! Employers prefer candidates who are enthusiastic about their open position and company over someone who is possibly even more qualified. Don’t make the mistake of assuming the employer knows you are interested in their position; make sure to let them know during the interview. The interview process can be highly competitive so the goal is to get the employer excited about you as well.
- Regardless of what you hear in the interview, maintain enthusiasm. Candidates often “decide” that the job is not exactly what they want and mentally check out during the interview or show lack of interest. Always end things on a positive note for these reasons: (1) you may obtain additional information at a later stage that changes your mind, (2) the company makes changes the job duties to align better with the your career path, (3) another position in the company opens up that is a better fit, or (4) the hiring manager might choose refer you to an outside opportunity. You never know!
- Understand that at this stage, 90% of the interview is designed to determine whether you’re a good personality fit within the organization and if you would be happy in the job. You wouldn’t be on the interview if they were afraid you couldn’t do the job. The interviewer might ask a variety of questions, but they are looking primarily at the personality fit. Be energetic, outgoing, and have a flexible attitude. Most of all, have fun and be yourself.