It’s been my experience that most people do very little preparation for an interview. The thinking is “after all…I’m talking about ME and MY experience. I’ll just be myself.”
This is flawed thinking and often great candidates lose the opportunity for a fabulous job because of a lack of preparation and not a lack of skill set or fit. Here are some tips that can help you ace your interview:
- Research the company. Be prepared to answer the question “What do you know about our company?” Have an answer that goes beyond the obviousness of what is on their website. Try to find something to say about the organization that would indicate that you went above and beyond to learn about them. Print off a couple of pages of your research and have it with you and visible in the interview. Your interviewer will understand immediately that you have done your homework. It will demonstrate you interest.
- Research the people who will be interviewing you. Go on LinkedIn. See if you are connected to anyone who knows someone that will be interviewing you. Call those connections to see if you can garner any insight into their style or personality. You can also Google your interviewer to see what else comes up. You may find that they are an avid runner or are a board member of a charity. This will allow for you to bring it up in conversation and you can build a sense of relatedness.
- Current Employees: Look to see if you know anyone who currently works at the company. Call them and see what insight they can provide about the culture at the company and the person you will be interviewing with.
- Past Employees: Go on LinkedIn and look at past employees who did a job similar to what you are interviewing for. If you don’t know any of them personally, you can always send an InMail asking for their help and advise.
- Get recommended on LinkedIn. Try to get a sense of what the most important experience or skill set is for this role. Turn to your own network and see if someone who has worked with you will write an authentic recommendation on LinkedIn addressing that particular area as a strength of yours.
- Before the interview, send the interviewer an updated version of your resume. Rework your resume to address examples that are relevant to the description.
- Think about what are some of the STANDARD interview questions and write out and rehearse your answers until you really like what you are saying. Standard interview questions include:
“Tell me about yourself?”“What are your strengths/weaknesses”“Why did you leave your job? (for each job in the last 6 years)“What were your responsibilities?”“What is important to you in your next job?”“What questions do you have for me?”
- Read and re-read the job description. Go through every bullet of the duties and responsibilities and answer the questions. “Tell me about a time when…” or “Tell me about your experience with…” for each bullet point of the job description. Typically almost all of the interviewer’s questions are based on the job description. Write out your answers and ask yourself “is that my best example?”
- Be prepared to provide specific answers. Often senior executives will assume that the interviewer thinks they are qualified and will provide generalized answers instead of specific answers. If you can’t provide specific examples using an actual scenario, the interview may think you don’t know your stuff. Sometimes people will generalize because they are concerned about giving away confidential information. If you can’t say the exact name of a client or project then be specific without using the name. Rather than saying “I was working on the Roche account.” Say “I was working with a client who specialized in oncology.”
- Make sure that your examples and answers can be communicated within 2-3 minutes. If you ramble on and on, the interviewer is more likely to tune out. I like this format best for interview answers:
- R – Result – This is the outcome. Now tell what happened. Give the ending away first. This way the interviewer isn’t trying to figure out where you are going with your answer.
- S – Situation – Describe the situation you were in or the task you needed to accomplish.
- T – Task – what goal were you working toward?
- A – Action – describe the actions you took. Focus on what YOU did instead of WE.
- R – Result – Summarize again with the result, the outcome, what happened. Don’t be shy about taking credit for your contribution.
If you complete all 10 steps of this interview preparation you will be ready to put the best YOU forward in the interview. And remember the quote from Henry Hartman “Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity.”
Written by Shanna Landolt, President – Secrets from a Headhunter & The Landolt Group You can reach Shanna at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-849-3855