A job seeker going to a job interview without preparing and practicing is like an actor performing on opening night without rehearsing.
By researching the company, becoming familiar with the interviewer(s), understanding the job description, and anticipating questions, interviewees can develop appropriate answers and “rehearse” them ahead of time – overcoming much of the anxiety of typical interviews.
As Recruiters, a big part of our job is helping candidates prepare for phone, skype, and face-to-face interviews. While proper preparation does require a considerable amount of time before an interview, the result is always a more successful, and often much less stressful meeting.
With this in mind, here are our Top 10 Interview Preparation Tips:
- Research the company, product lines, and competitors.
Conduct research on the company, look up info on LinkedIn, review the company URL. Know the products, financials, competitors, and names of new leaders. This research will provide information to help you decide if you’re interested in the company as well as give you important data to differentiate yourself from other applicants as you prepare.
- Image is often as important as content.
What you look like and how you say something is just as important as what you say. Studies show that as much as 85% of the conveyed message is nonverbal; gestures, eye contact, tone of voice, physical posture, and attire are highly influential during job interviews. Maintain good eye contact, offer a firm handshake, stand erect, sit tall, avoid nervous gestures, and use body movements that project confidence. Dress for your interview in accordance with the culture and expectations of the company. If you’re not sure – ask whoever is coordinating the interview ahead of time.
- Keep answers brief and concise.
Don’t ramble! Be brief and concise when answering questions and don’t talk “over” the interviewer. Unless you’re asked to give more detail, speak only 60-90 seconds in response to each question.
- Include concrete, quantifiable data.
Don’t talk in generalities! Be sure to include measurable information (in terms of $ or #s), leadership skills (in terms of people/vendors managed), and provide details about specific accomplishments when discussing your strengths.
- Repeat your key strengths three times.
Don’t be embarrassed to praise your abilities. Arrogance or obnoxious boasting is taboo, but it’s essential that you confidently articulate your strengths. By rephrasing your strengths at least three times during the interview, the interviewer is also more likely to remember them.
- Prepare five or more success stories.
In preparing for interviews, make a list of your top skills. Then reflect on past jobs and write out one or two successful experiences that demonstrate each of those skills. You should have 3-5 stories or “accomplishments” that demonstrate your skills. These are perfect answers to use when you are asked some of the more typical “Tell me about your specific skills” or “Tell me about a project you are proud of.”
- Put yourself on their team.
Visualize yourself on the job. Whenever possible, ally yourself with the prospective employer by using the company’s name and referring to specific products or departments. It is also effective to phrase your answers and use the words “we”, “our” and “I” to position yourself as a team member. For example, “As a member of the ________ (specific product name or department) team, I would work diligently to ensure that we could achieve our objectives.”
- Highlight your work.
Take your laptop, tablet, or print portfolio with your latest samples. Speak about your involvement, technical skills, team mentality, and any project leadership when taking the interviewer through the work. Take 3-5 additional copies of your resume in case anyone else joins the interview.
- Ask questions.
The types of questions you ask and the way you ask them can make a tremendous impression on the interviewer. Don’t ask about salary and benefits. Instead, use questions to reveal your research on the company’s products and competitors. Ask questions to define company processes or hierarchy for you.
- After the interview – follow-up.
Write a “Thank You” letter or email to everyone who interviewed you and re-state your key skills, stress what you can do for the company, and re-emphasize your keen interest in the company, department, and/or products.