Preparing to Interview Effectively Part 1

Updated: Oct 10, 2018

So you submitted your resume and finally heard back from the company. THEY WANT TO INTERVIEW YOU. After a short-lived moment of celebration, you find yourself in a panic. Now what?

The interview is the most important channel to a job.  It’s often a make or break situation that provides a small window of opportunity to make a positive impression. How will you prepare?   What questions will you be asked, and what questions should you be asking?  How will you tell your compelling story? How will you create a positive, relevant, and memorable impact in the mind of your recruiter? 

We're going explore these strategies in a three part series that will outline the exact steps you should take to interview effectively.

Let's start at the beginning.

Practicing your answers to interview questions is only half the battle of your preparation. Before you even sit down to practice interview questions there are 3 key steps you should take that can make the difference between getting the job offer of your dreams or an email that says "Thank you for your time. At this time we are exploring other candidates."

1. Research the Organization

This may seem redundant seeing as how you've already applied for the position, but sometimes you may not do a very thorough job researching an organization when you first apply. In any case, it's always worth going back and taking a closer, more in depth look at a company. Here are a few ways you can do some company research before you go in for an interview

Look on the company’s website

The main area you want to focus on is the company's "About" section. There you will find plenty of information about the foundation of the company, the chief officers, and most importantly the company's mission and values. Paying attention to a company's mission and values can be incredibly beneficial. First, it gives you an idea of the organization's culture (and if you would fit in with that culture). Second, knowing what values are important to a company can help with preparing to answer certain interview questions.

Follow the company’s LinkedIn and/or Facebook page

LinkedIn is an excellent source for pre-interview knowledge. On the company's home page you can read company news updates. You can use that news and information in an interview to give impressive responses to questions. If there's a company products page, you can discover all the products and services that a company provides. Because these entries are brief and include a picture, you can learn more about a company’s product or service more quickly and easily than on the company’s web site.

Check GlassDoor for salary information

Many times recruiters will ask you what are your salary expectations for the position. Giving an unrealistic number that is too high can ruin your chances of consideration for next round interviews or even the position itself. On the other hand, coming in with a low number could potentially set you up for undervaluing your skills and experience. Use salary information to help you set up the right expectations for yourself and interviewers. Additionally, if you have an idea of what the range is for a position, you could potentially leverage that information when negotiating your offer.

2. Research the Person(s) Who Will Interview You

When you're first scheduled for an interview, the recruiter will often give you the name of the person or persons you're interviewing with. Sometimes that person will even reach out to you directly. Either way, take some time to get an idea of who the person is that will be interviewing you. These days, everyone is just a Google search away. You'll most likely find information on your interviewer that comes directly from the company's website. Also, check if this person has published any articles or contributed to any publications in your industry recently. Finally, find their LinkedIn profile - this will give you an idea of how long they've been with the organization you're interviewing at and what roles they have had over the years. All of this information can help you on interview day, especially when it's your turn to ask any questions. People love to talk about themselves, so asking specific, well-thought-out questions about your interviewer can leave a great impression on them. Just make sure to keep it professional so you don't sound creepy - no personal questions from social media profiles!

3. Rehearse the "Story" You Will Tell

The most important thing in any interview is to be yourself.   You don’t want to get hired based on a false persona that you’ll need to live up to every day. Interviewers can tell immediately when you're being inauthentic.  Let your true self shine. When sharing, leverage the power of storytelling. It’s easier to show passion in an interview when you’re telling a story versus just regurgitating facts on your resume. Use the appeal of personal stories to convey the essence of who you are and what’s important to you. It’s easier to be enthusiastic when you’re telling a story versus just restating facts.

When thinking about how you will craft your story in an interview keep these concepts in mind:

  • Share what makes you unique.

  • Show why you would be valuable to this organization.

  • Draw people in by conveying your passions and interests.  Show interest in what they’re saying as well.

  • Be real.  People can spot a phony a mile away.

  • Make a great first impression and leave them wanting more.

Now that you've done the ground work of preparing for your upcoming interview, it's time to move on to the next phase. It's time to start anticipating what types of questions you'll be asked, and what are the best responses to these questions. Part 2 of our Preparing to Interview Effectively series has you covered with the basics. For a more in depth look at interviewing, check out our Interview Preparation series where you'll have access to common interview questions used by Fortune 500 Companies along with the strategies to answer them effectively.

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