Get the Job You Want (Part 1): Prepare for Your Best Interview Ever
I’ll let you in on a little known secret: most hiring managers are inexperienced interviewers.
This means that the best way to have a great interview is to set yourself up for success through your PREPARATION.
There are literally thousands of articles and books about how to interview for a job, but unfortunately, job candidates are still making the most basic mistakes of not being prepared for their interviews. You don’t have to make the same basic mistakes!
To make it easier for you, I’ll provide you with everything you need to know right here, as well as some specific actions you can take to prepare for your best interview ever.
Remember: interviews are not a one-way led question session, during which the interviewer asks questions that you respond to. Rather, a great interview is a two-way conversation where the interviewer and you connect, engage and explore mutual fit.
2. Learn everything you can about the company you’re interviewing with and the job opportunity.
- Read about the company everywhere you can online, not just on their website, but also in articles written about them, interviews conducted by senior leaders and on their social media channels.
- Find and contact someone who works at the company. Use your network to connect with them and ask a few questions about what its like to work there and what is most valued at the company.
- Come up with a few key questions that you want to ask the interviewer about the company and the job. During the first interview, you should not ask questions about salary, benefits, time off, etc. Your questions should serve to provide you with more information about the position, the interviewer’s perspective on the company, the interviewers management style, etc.
3. Anticipate and prepare for the questions that you will most likely be asked during the interview.
Here are some of the most common interview questions:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your greatest strengths?
- What are your greatest weaknesses?
- Give me an example of a time when you…(the interviewer will insert various scenarios that are related to the job. Based on what you’ve learned about the company and what you know about the job, think through what they might be.)
- What interests you in our company?
- How did you hear about this job?
- Why do you want this job?
- Why should we hire you?
- What are your professional goals?
4. Develop the narrative that you want the potential employer to remember about you. You will use this story line throughout the interview as you answer questions.
- What are the common themes you want to convey about yourself? Here are some ideas: Are you resourceful? A problem solver? A team player? A leader? A quick learner? An expert in a particular area? etc.
- After deciding on the two to three themes you most want to convey, pick a few examples of actual situations where you have demonstrated what you do best. If you don’t have relevant work experience, pick specific examples from school or volunteer work that illustrate your approach and results.
- Develop your story with these themes and examples. You will begin to tell your story in response to the question, “Tell me about yourself,” and continue it on as you respond to each question.
- Most importantly, connect and apply the examples of your accomplishments specifically the company’s focus and the job you are interested in.
- Come up with the way you want to end the interview. What is the most important thing you want the interviewer to remember about you? How will you convey your interest in and ask for the job at the end of the interview. I recommend that you specifically summarize why you are a good fit for the job, confidently express a specific contribution you can make and directly say something like, “I am even more interested in this opportunity than I even was when I came in. I am confident that I can deliver the results you are looking for and be a strong contributing member of your team. I look forward to hearing back from you and joining XYZ company.”
5. Prepare for the relational part of the interview. This is sometimes the most difficult part for women in emerging economies. As important as conveying how your skills and experiences fit the company and job, is your ability to connect with the interviewer and show how you are fit for the company.
Here are a few examples of what you may encounter:
- If you are interviewing with a Western-based multinational company, you will be expected to spend a few minutes in a general conversation with the interviewer before the specific interview questions start. Relax and engage in this initial conversation.
- In other cultures and companies, the interviewer will jump right into the heart of the interview. Be prepared for that.
- Regardless of whether it is part of your cultural practice to promote yourself and take credit for your accomplishments, you will need to do so in an interview. This is not the time to be humble or modest and minimize your skills and contributions. If you are not used to talking directly about yourself, find ways that you can do so. A few ideas:
- Share what other people say about you, e.g, my current manager or my professors say or my clients say, or my colleagues say that I am….
- Bring an example of your work
- In addition to your resume or CV, provide a written document listing some of your more significant accomplishments.
6. Practice. If you are not used to answering the types of questions you will get in the interview, or talking about yourself, practice the most important things you want to be sure to convey. Practice with a close friend or family member, and even with yourself in the mirror.
If you don’t have time to take these steps and prepare for your interview, you are either not interested enough in the job (if this is true you should not go on the interview), or you need to make time to get ready.
Don’t go to an interview if you are not prepared!
Next week in Part 2, I’ll lay out what you should do during the interview to have the best interview ever, and in the third post (Part 3), how to follow up after the interview. But for now – start preparing to get the job you want!