Preparing for an Interview
- Research the company with whom you are interviewing. With Google, Bing, Yahoo Financials, Linkedin, and Glassdoor readily available, you can get just about all the information you need to know about a company. Once while researching for an interview with a particular company, I found a typo on their website. Then during the interview when the hiring manager asked me if I had visited their website, I was able to causally mention the error. At that moment, the manager went to the website to see the mistake for himself. I was eventually awarded the job, and the manager later told me that this attention to detail was one of the reasons that the company had hired me. The manager had interviewed at least 10 other people before me, and they had either not viewed the site, hadn’t noticed the error, or were too intimidated to say anything about it.
- Get any information from your recruiter about the hiring manager’s style of interviewing and the types of questions the manager might ask you. Ask your recruiter about any anecdotes that you should share. If you aren’t working with a recruiter that can help you prepare, then spend some time writing down questions that you would ask if you were the hiring manager or do an internet search for common interview questions.
If you are not using a recruiter, you can gain some helpful insight into the interviewer by viewing his or her LinkedIn profile to see who they have recommended, who they have been recommended by, who they’ve endorsed, who they’ve been endorsed by, and what networking groups they belong to.
- You can even look them up on Facebook … because you can be sure they’ve looked you up.
- Organize the night before. Check your interview clothing and portfolio so that everything is prepared, and make time for a good night’s rest.
- Be sure to know the exact name and correct spelling of the person who will be interviewing you. Know exactly where you are meeting and the time you are to interview. If possible, you might even drive to the interview location the day before just to make sure that you will have no problems arriving there on time.
- Arriving on time means arriving seven to ten minutes early. This way, you have plenty of time to fill out any application paperwork necessary and still be ready for your interview start time.
- Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting, and sit upright at all times.
- Be prepared to ask the hiring manager questions such as what his or her management style is like or why the position is open. Your goal, in a one-hour interview, is to create at least 10-15 minutes of your own dialogue from your questions. That will possibly require about 7-10 questions. Also ask the interviewer to describe the job and its duties to you so that you can properly relay information regarding the way your skills, background, and accomplishments will benefit their company.
- Don’t inquire about salary, vacations, benefits, bonuses, or retirement during the initial interview. This is an interview no-no. If the manager brings it up, however, you will find that your preparation time will serve as a benefit to you. If you are working with a good recruiter, they will have prepared you for what to say. If you are not working with a recruiter, you may want to reply with a financial range based on your research of the job market; or if you feel confident, just state that you are not prepared to discuss salary at this time until you get more information about the total scope of the opportunity.
- Bring several copies of your resume on high quality paper and a list of references. Be sure your references can be easily reached because their promptness in returning the calls of the recruiter or hiring manager (or their lack of promptness) will be a direct reflection upon you.
Closing the Interview
- Toward the end of the interview, ask the hiring manager his or her opinion of how your background experience stacks up against other candidates that have been interviewed.
- If they have any objections, you want to handle them at this point. Don’t let the manager “sleep or mull over” your interview. You don’t want a mountain to grow from a mole hill, especially over something that could have been cleared up in that moment.
- Be proactive. Reiterate your interest in the job and in the company by asking about the next step in the process.
- If you get the impression that the interview is not going well, don’t let your discouragement show. Remain poised, upbeat and professional. There could be other opportunities in the company that would be a better fit for you.
- Be enthusiastic about the job and the company. The people you meet during your job search and during your interviews can become valuable networking sources even if you don’t get that particular job.
And always remember: you are ‘checking out’ the company as much as they are ‘checking out’ you.