The other day I was asked to interview someone at the last minute because the hiring manager was called into a meeting. It takes a lot of time and effort to land an interview and the last thing you want to do is to blow it. Well, that’s exactly what this guy did. He was a really nice guy, but he just seemed to make one blunder after another. So many, in fact, that he was the inspiration for today’s post.
We all know the basics – make a great first impression, make sure the hiring manager knows that you have what it takes to do the job and do your research on the company and the interviewers. Let’s face it, we all make mistakes and sometimes things don’t go as planned. But today’s post is not about the human errors we sometimes make, it’s about being prepared. So rather than focus on all of the things this guy did wrong (that is a topic for another post), I thought I would focus on the top things you should remember when preparing for your interview. So what do you need to remember to help ensure you are at your best? Read on.
1. Don’t be late:
I am a fanatic about getting to interviews on time. I make sure I know where I’m going and how long it should take to get there. If I have time, I do a trial run to the location. Once I know how long it should take me to get there, I add 30 minutes on so that I’m there early. There is always the unexpected traffic jam or maybe mass transportation is late. In most buildings these days, you have to sign in to security and that could take awhile if there is a line. No matter how early I am, I don’t let anyone know I’m there until 5-10 minutes before the interview. Getting there too early can be disruptive as well.
2. Research the company and the interviewer(s):
Whether or not your interview is at a company that was on your list, you should know everything you can about the company. What they do, how many employees they have why it would (or wouldn’t) be a good fit for you. LinkedIn is a great tool for this, but you can also look at sites like Fortune.com and Forbes.com to get more information on the company. Don’t forget to look at the LinkedIn profile of the interviewer(s). Lastly, leverage LinkedIn to find people you know who work there (or used to work there) to get the inside scoop.
3. Read the Job Description:
Sounds pretty basic, but you’d be surprised how many people go into an interview without fully reading and understanding the job description. To the interviewer, not knowing the job description will look like you don’t care (or are not qualified). Design your interview questions (and answers to questions) around the job description, focusing on why you are the right person for the job. Reference specific job description terminology and tie this to your relevant experience. Ensure your questions are not repetitive and do not cover material already discussed in the interview.
Following on from #3 above, communications is a two way street and you need to leverage both your listening and speaking skills. But communications is not limited to the spoken word, non-verbal communications can be as or more important than verbal communications. Body language, facial expressions and shaking hands are all an important part of the process. Last, but not least, is eye contact. Look your interviewer(s) in the eyes, do not look away when answering questions. Be confident in our ability and conviction that you are the best candidate for the job.
5. Prepare Your Sales Pitch:
Let’s face it, an interview is a sales pitch. You are selling you and your ability as the best candidate for the job. At some point in the interview, you are likely to have a question regarding your background. Use this time to deliver your pitch. As mentioned in #3 above, include accomplishments that compliment the job description. There needs to be a delicate balance between selling and over-sell. Practice your sales pitch with friends and family prior to your interview. Another good technique is to practice in the mirror. One last piece of advice, record your sales pitch and listen back. You are likely to hear things that you will want to adjust before your real performance (and yes, it is a performance). Take a look at Job Search Marketing Toolkit – Your Elevator Speech.
Above all, try to relax in your interview. This will show that you are confident you your abilities and experience.
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Good luck in your search,