Preparation for an interview can be one of the most important things you do during your job search. I am not talking about having your suit dry-cleaned; I am talking about being ready for anything the interview may bring.  Take the time needed to prepare and follow these simple tips:

1. Why did you apply for this job?  You should have a well outlined answer to this question.  Think about what attracted you to the job posting, what tasks get you excited, and the skills you want to utilize.  If you have a true understanding to the answer of this question then it will drive your answers to other interview questions as well.

2. Research and research the company.   It is important to show that you have knowledge of the company in the interview, but it is equally as important to evaluate if you would enjoy working at the company.  Read all that you can about the company on the internet, and if they are a public company look at their financial statements and SEC filings. 

3. Get to know an insider.   Talking to someone who actually works at the company you are interviewing with is a great way to gather a better understanding for the company.  Use your network, LinkedIn is a great tool to find a good person to take out to lunch.  Don’t just ask them the traditional questions, that you can find the answer to on Google, really find out their day to day operations.

4. Understand the culture.  During your research be sure that you understand the culture and environment of the workplace.  The essential piece is to think about how you fit into that and be able to articulate it.  For example, if their culture is service based, then mention your participation in community service.

5. Tasks that I can handle. There are going to be times when there are gaps in your skills and the job description.  Do not skirt around this during your interview, address it head on.  Before the interview write these down, and decide how to approach them.  Then when the chance presents itself point out that you can handle those tasks, and give specific reasons why.  

6. Write your sound bites.  Before going to the interview think about sentences you could use to sell yourself.  This is essentially an opening sentence or an overview for each of your previous jobs.  If you have thought this through you can easily briefly encompass what you have done, and then delve into more detail.  

7. Your online brand.  Your potential employer is researching you through your social media pages and websites.  Check over these pages and make sure they are ready for the eyes of potential employers.  Remember you are what you publish.  

8. Write an outline.  In an outline format write everything you would ideally mention in the interview.  Use the job description when doing this.  At the bottom include the questions you would like to ask the interviewer.  Print the outline and take it with you to the interview, reference it if needed.

Anybody have other tips to help everyone be prepared for their interviews?

Views: 1858

Comment by Judy on December 6, 2011 at 11:27am

I like to tell my Candidates how to organize their thoughts when answering Behavior Based Interview questions.  I use the “STAR” method.  S - state the situation, T - state the task you were given, A - give the actions YOU took, not the team not the group but what YOU did, R - state the results.  You can give a positive or a negative example but if you give a negative example make sure you include  "Lessons Learned".  Take a minute to organize your thoughts and jump in.  MAKE SURE YOU ANSWER THE QUESTION with your example.

Comment by Candace Nault on December 6, 2011 at 2:20pm

Great insight and info, thanks.  Would also add I coach my candidates to remember that an employer is looking for a solution to a problem (someone to do this job well) and that they need to be able to articulate how they could be the answer/solution to that problem.  Keeping this in mind, hopefully they will stay focused on the role and not start answering questions from an interviewer that are not even close to aligning with what the job is about.

Alas, not everyone seems to think they need help or coaching in this area, they hear you but don't necessarily listen, but then I figure they are just not the right person for my client and keep moving.

Comment by Kara Stringer on December 6, 2011 at 2:46pm

Great tips guys! We are going to have to use these as well!

Comment by Liz Morris on December 6, 2011 at 10:43pm

These are great. Simple and easy to follow. We have retweeted this article.

Comment by April on December 15, 2011 at 11:28pm

Thanks for posting this. This is a good article to refer my candidats. I will be posting this article on LinkedIn.

Comment by Christopher Poreda on December 16, 2011 at 9:54am

Great piece Kara!  But I do have one question...I don't know how comfortable I'd be telling a candidate to bring in a piece of paper with questions on it.  I've had two candidates do that in the past even though I advise against it and it turned off the interviewer.  I suppose it could depend upon the position but I think interviews should be more free flowing and one should be able to memorize a few important questions.

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