“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success”
-Alexander Graham Bell
Getting an interview can create a great feeling of triumph. From the pile of applications, resumes, and networked connections, you have risen to the top of the stack and have a chance to get in front of the employer to present yourself as the best candidate. This doesn’t mean the work is over though. From the minute you schedule a job interview to sitting down at the table you should be preparing for your interview.
1. Research The Company
At some point during the interview you will get the question “What do you know about our company?” Have an answer. That answer doesn’t have to be the year the company was founded or a stock quote, but you should have some information. There’s a handful of ways to get this info.
- Learn the Company’s Mission Statement. Find the Mission Statement on Google and learn it so that you can state it back to the employer. Speak it out loud while you’re learning it, because the more you say something out loud the better you’ll remember it when necessary.
- Look at the company’s web presence. Read their company website and their social media pages. Their web presence is going to be where they show you what they want you to know about them.
- Network With Their Employees. Talk to any friends that you know work for the company or get on LinkedIn and do a search for people who work for the company and send a message to anyone that you know. This is a good way to learn about the specific position you’re applying for and what the interview might be like.
2. Practice Your Part
You know a few things they’re going to ask, so practice. There are three questions you’re almost certain to get in every job interview –
- Tell us about yourself. Not technically a question, but the most important part of the job interview. We’ve talked in depth about it here, but just know that this isn’t a question about how you enjoy spending your down time. This is where you know what you wrote on your resume, customized to the company as a selling point for the work they do.
- What do you know about our company? A chance to show off just how serious you took the interview, because you were willing to prepare beforehand. Bonus Points for knowing something that no other applicant knows.
- Do you have any questions for us? There are all sorts of good questions to ask here. The worst questions focus on topics that you don’t need answered yet like insurance, salary, or benefits. Good questions could be “What do you like about your job?” Another could be “What is the biggest challenge for a person in this position?”
Several other questions will come in a “Tell us about a time…” format. Remember the acronym C.A.R. This means challenge, action, response. There was a problem (challenge), this is what I did (action), this is how the situation was fixed (response).
3. Prepare Your Outfit
Find an outfit that is one level above the job you’re applying for. So think of the position you’re applying for and guess what your boss will likely be wearing. Get it out the night before, get the wrinkles out of it, and keep it away from cigarette smoke until after the interview is over. Do not smoke while wearing your interview clothes. Do not wear cologne or perfume in case the interviewer may be sensitive to it.
4. Ready Your References
Let your references know that you’re going in for a job interview at Company X, the job you’re interviewing for, and tell them what’s involved in the job so they can focus on selling you for the job.