Interviewing is equal parts art as much as it is science
Interviews are an essential part of the job application process, and you do not want to leave interview preparation to the last minute.
Being prepared for an interview can be the difference between being offered the job you want or struggling to get an offer of employment.
Interviewing is more than conveying what is on your resume; it’s an opportunity to showcase your value while being vulnerable and likeable enough that you get a chance to do it again until it’s official.
The basics of interview preparation you should have down before every interview or meeting. As a recruiter for many years, I made sure that everyone meeting an employer for a job was prepared for thier interviews with a detailed interview prep strategy.
Companies expect that you have completed research before the meeting and know the history of the company, the products and services they sell, the type of business and the industry they operate in. Companies are looking to hire fully-formed adults who understand how their role fits within a company and its impact on delivering its goals to customers, shareholders, and employees.
Before an interview, make sure you can answer these questions;
- Who: are they, do they serve?
- Why: are they in business, do they have customers, do you want to work there?
- What: are their values, is thier mission, do they sell?
- Where: do they operate, do they hire?
Location & Technology
Being late is poor planning. Make sure to plan your travel to meetings and interviews ahead of time and anticipate delays. Equally, poor planning is not having reliable video and audio connectivity during video interviews or teleconference calls.
- Plan and do a trial run before the big day if the location or technology is new to you
- Ask if you need help; companies are always open to provide accommodation before an interview
Being on time is like participation. It's an easy win if you put in the effort.
I use a simple strategy that keeps everyone on time. I send out a calendar invite to all participants or add the meeting to my calendar with a notification before the meeting.
If you need to reschedule a meeting, try to reschedule 24-36 hours before the scheduled appointment is to take place. Try to avoid same-day cancellations and requests for rescheduling.
Research, Research, Research. Make sure before every meeting you research your audience. Research can uncover hidden connections, similarities, business philosophies and shared values.
Spend the time to get some perspective by learning the backgrounds of the people you'll be meeting with. This can be the difference between making genuine connections or being focused solely on your own needs.
Another potential strategy is to speak with people in common, potential colleagues or anyone connected to the company who might provide some additional value advice.
The goal is not to know everything about the person, but enough that can help you guide the conversation and build rapport quickly.
You can get this info from a recruiter, current employee, former employee or via online review sites like Glassdoor or Reddit. Knowing what type of interview format or style to expect will help you prepare for the interview.
Knowing what to expect will give you a competitive advantage throughout the interview process. Don't be afraid to ask after each round or early in the process what the expectations are.
Interview formats range from standard one-on-one interviews, panel interviews, group interviews, skills assessment and technical evaluation. Interviews can be informal - conversational, casual and laid back or formal - structured, process-driven, situational and behavioural interviews.
Once you know the format, you can adequately prepare for the interview and do a practice run with a friend or colleague. I recommend testing any video and audio 5-10 minutes before a video interview.
For in-person meetings, make sure to inquire about any COVID-19 safety protocols, directions to the meeting and instructions for when you arrive.
Make sure to have a copy of the job description and the reporting structure before agreeing to an interview. Don't waste your time or others showing up to interview for a job you don't want or is not the right fit.
Before the interview, go over your resume and highlight examples of alignment in your experience to the needs of the job and company.
Another great strategy is to review the backgrounds of the previous incumbent and other team members and identify if there is any alignment or similarities in your experience.
Coming to an interview unprepared is an instant deal-breaker. Always make sure to have a pen, notepad, and, if required (only when asked) additional supporting documents – i.e. portfolio or product samples.
A benefit of taking notes is that you'll be able to recall more of your meeting and any potential follow-up actions required on your part. Make sure you balance taking notes and only do so when necessary to retain or remember important information.
These are the basics for interview preparation you want to have down before every meeting. Be prepared and stand out.