As you search for jobs, you will eventually start being invited to interviews. The interview is the exciting part of the job-search process.
At this point, your efforts are starting to pay off and you are gaining traction. So I will share how to easily prepare for an interview in seven steps.
I have also shared a number of tips you can use to help you land your dream job. If you have not read those articles, click here to read this one on networking strategies you can implement. I also provided Led by the Book’s Ultimate Resume Builder Guide, which tells you everything you need to know to build a compelling resume. Get your copy here.
These seven steps to prepare for an interview have worked wonders for me in the past. They are the same tips that many of my colleagues have used to land the jobs of their dreams.
Step 1: Get to know the company
Your first assignment when you prepare for a job interview is to know the organization. The company website is a good place to start. Research everything you can about the company and its business model. This will help you to understand where and how you will add value to the organization.
Step 2: Understand the challenges facing the company
You also need to know some of the challenges that the company is facing currently as you prepare for an interview. If the company is publicly traded, you will find this information from their quarterly earnings call, generally located in the investor section of their website. Is the company facing financial or legal troubles? Is it introducing a new product on the market? I suggest listening to the last four earnings calls to get a sense of the challenges ahead for the company and how the management team is addressing them.
Step 3: Find out who the leaders are
It may seem trivial, but knowing who runs the company you plan to work for can tell you a lot about its culture. Take SAS, for example, a software company based in Cary, NC. Its CEO, Jim Goodnight, believes that if you treat employees like they make a difference, then they will. Knowing this about Jim, one can only imagine how supportive and collaborative the culture at SAS is. So, get to know the leaders of the company as you prepare for an interview. Again, the company website is a great place to start.
Step 4: Review the job description again
Once you have dug up all that you can about the company, review the job description one more time to see how the role that you are applying for aligns with the broader vision and strategy of the company. If you are applying for a Project Management role, maybe you will play an integral role in the cost reduction initiatives of the company. As you can see, connecting the dots is a surefire way to prepare for your interview, way before you walk into the interview for a chat.
Step 5: Know yourself and what you bring to the table
As a former recruiter and operations manager, I have interviewed many people. The candidates who get hired for a job are those who can show how they will help the company achieve its vision and goals . Remember: you are going to the interview to have a conversation about the challenges facing the company and how your unique skills can help solve those problems. It’s a two-way conversation where both sides are looking for a mutual fit. Therefore, it is critical that as you prepare, that you understand how your skills align with the role. If you are not sure how your skills fit the role, ask those who know you well to help you clarify that.
Step 6: Don’t waste your time reviewing stock interview questions
Interviewing is more of an art than a skill. I have found some benefits in reviewing stock interview questions prior to an interview, but the benefits are not that great unless you have done the other things listed above. You don’t want to sound like a robot during the interview. If you know the company, have a basic understanding of their business model, know one or two of the challenges that they are facing, then go in and let the conversation flow. Besides, they might not even ask you any of the questions that you reviewed beforehand. HR these days is always experimenting and they change questions quite often.
Step 7: Prepare questions for the interviewer
As much as the company is interviewing you to see if you are a good fit for them, you also need to interview them. Prepare at least 3 to 5 questions to ask the interviewer, based on your research on the company. But don’t wait until the end of the interview to ask the questions. Remember, you are having a conversation; the best conversations usually involve two people asking questions and volleying responses back and forth to each other. Be in the moment and interject your questions when the cadence of the conversation allows for it. If only the interviewer is asking questions, then it’s not an interview. It’s an interrogation.
So those are my seven easy steps to preparing for an interview. What other steps would you add to this roster? Leave your comments below!
– Led by the Book