How prepare a Job Interview
If you read the latest posts, you’ve crafted the perfect résumé and cover letter for a position; you’ve networked and connected with important people in your industry; and now you have an interview scheduled—perhaps even multiple interviews. You should be pleased to find out that the hardest part of the job search is behind you, but your work is certainly not done.
It is stunning how commonplace it is for people to think that interviews require only that the applicant show up on time, answer a series of questions, and hope for the best. This, I can assure you, is not the case. Interviews require research; interviews require a deserved confidence; interviews require preparation. A good interview is one where you walk out of the manager’s of ice ready to negotiate a salary when the inevitable job of er comes in.
This kind of interview is attainable. It simply takes the right preparation and execution. So grab a cup of coffee and get ready to work, because it’s time to earn that job offer.
Researching the Company
Before ever meeting a manager for an interview, you need to do your research on the company. Get a sense of the company’s history. Know the name of the CEO. Read all the recent news about the company. Understand how this company makes its money.
You need to know this information so that you can intelligently answer questions. The more you understand about a company, the more a hiring manager will visualize you working at that company. And at some point in the interview you will hear the following: “Do you have any questions for us?” This is perhaps the most important question in the interview, and in order for you to overcome it you must have some knowledge of the company. Imagine how a hiring manager feels when he hears a prospective new hire ask, “Recently your company expanded into the overseas market, and from all accounts this has resulted in wild success. If hired, would I be able to contribute in projects of that magnitude?” Now compare that to “What kind of benefits does the job have?” and ask yourself which applicant you would hire. Never cut corners with research.
Creating the Proper Narrative
Interviews are not about you. This little piece of information may come as shock, but it’s true. The interview is in no way about who you are. Interviews are about the company you are interviewing with. The purpose of the interview is to demonstrate how well you understand what the company needs from you. So when you answer questions, you will need answer in such a way that tells the proper narrative.
Imagine you are interviewing Applicant A for the position of Human Resources Director. Applicant A is family man who goes to church every week. He has two kids and a beautiful wife. He wants this job to provide for his kids. They need to get into a good college, you see. He wants to make that happen by sending them to the best private schools. He has a letter of recommendation with him from his pastor due all the years he taught the teenagers at his church. You couldn’t meet a nicer man.
Now imagine Applicant B for the same position.
Applicant B is career focused. He can tell you his five year plan, ten year plan, and long term career goals. He sees big things in the future, and he thinks those big things could happen while working as Human Resources Director. He believes above all else that hard work will bring his goals into fruition, and he would be honored to accomplish those goals at your company.
Applicant C answers every question you ask him with a smile. He seems like a happy man, and his conversation is focused on his prior experience as a lower level Human Resources Associate. He speaks well of his former supervisors and asks questions about what his role would be in the new company. He makes few jokes during the meeting, but he chuckles at yours. Whenever the conversation veers off-topic, he brings it back to the interview.
Which applicant would you hire? Opinions differ here.
But the important lesson to take away from this illustration is that Applicants A, B, and C are all the same person.
You can make yourself appear in any light you wish. This is why research is so important: you must know what kind of applicant the company is looking for so that you may understand how to present yourself. Should you mention your family or leave them out entirely? Should you focus on hard work or ambition? This differs from company to company. Find out and prepare accordingly.
Rehearsing Your Answers
Hiring managers almost always ask the same kind of questions. What is your greatest weakness? Why should we hire you for this position? If you are serious about getting the job, you should prepare your answers to these questions in advance.
You may need to tweak your answers based on the narrative you are providing to the company. Always go with the results of your research first.
This should be the bulk of your preparation. Go over these questions over and over again until no amount of nervousness could steal your answers from your mind. If you get tired, think about the paychecks you’ll be earning after the hiring manager decides you are the top applicant.
You cannot overprepare here, so get to work!