Even the most seasoned professionals can use help in preparing for an interview. Whether you are represented by an executive recruitment agency, head hunter or going it alone, there are many ways you can prepare and give yourself an edge over your competition.
Career Sparks Top 5 Tips in Preparing for an Interview:
1) Do your homework.
When preparing candidates for an interview, I always ask “have you reviewed the company website?” The reply is always either “Yes” or “I will do it later.” If the answer is “Yes,” we are on the right track. The next questions is “Can you tell me what the company does?” The majority of candidates give a vague answer, along the lines of “it seems like a really great company and I would like to work there.” While I appreciate the positivity, this is NOT going to impress a hiring manager or show them that a candidate has done his or her research. Spend an hour reviewing the company website, write down what the company does, how long they have been in business, where they are located, why you think your skills line up with the company’s mission, etc. This type of preparation will make you look well-prepared, resourceful and leaves a lasting great impression with the hiring manager.
2) Remember, it’s not about You.
The economy has changed drastically in the past 10 years as a result of the recession, globalization and many other factors. Whether you are a highly qualified Medical Director, well-decorated transitioning military serviceperson or a hopeful new graduate, there is no guarantee that you will get your top choice job. In order to ensure you have a shot at the job of your dreams, you must demonstrate your value to the potential employer throughout the interview dialogues.
For example, rather than saying “I’d like to work here because it is a great company and a close commute from my home,” you would be better off saying “I’d like to work here because I admire x, y, z about the company and feel that my hard work and dedication would be a valuable long term asset to your organization”
3) Be Flexible.
I have worked with candidates who have missed out on their dream job due to rigid scheduling restrictions, unwillingness to commute or inflexibility on salary. While I would never advocate giving up family time, undervaluing your skills or losing work/life balance, most good employers want people who are flexible and willing to roll up their sleeves and do whatever is needed in their first year of work.
After securing your reputation as a valued employee, you may be eligible for additional perks such as telecommute/work from home, higher salary, leadership duties and much more. However, in order to earn these perks you have to show the employer what you can do for THEM first.
4) Mind Your Ps & Qs.
- Show up no more, and no less, than 10 minutes early. If you are not sure how long the traffic will take, leave yourself and extra hour and spend some time in the parking lot reviewing your notes from the company website.
- Dress for success. A suit always makes a good impression, even for an entry level position. If you do not have a suit, a white or neutral collared shirt with professional pants or a skirt works great as well. Keep jewelry, make-up, cologne and perfume simple and minimal.
- Turn your cell phone off!
- Come prepared: a black padfolio or folder with copies of your resume and a blank notepad to take notes on (if appropriate) will make you look sharp and professional.
- Write a Thank You Note: a timely follow up via hand-written note or email always sends a good impression.