Sunday, October 7, 2012

How should I prepare for an interview?

There are plenty of tips out there that all scream "well no duh!" So, given that we all know these tips, I wanted to get down to the nitty gritty. Let's talk specifically about the tips you see everywhere and how you can really apply them.

This came up with I searched for interview. Let's roll with it.

Research the company

Again, one of those no-duh type of tips. But, let's get specific. How do you research the company? Obviously you look at their website (hopefully they're up to the current decade and have one). But what else?

Check for news on the company and run a Google Alert on them. In the days coming up to your interview, you will receive any and all new news on the company.

Is the company "followable" on LinkedIn? Either follow them or see what people currently work there. If you have the name of your interviewer, it would probably help to at least get a face to the name.

Finally, but possibly most importantly, check out GlassDoor. If it is a large enough company (sometimes even a smaller company!) then there will often be employer ratings and interview questions so you can prepare ahead of time.

Remember, you're not just researching the company, you're researching if you would want to work for them.

Don't change your daily routine

You might be really tempted to pick up a coffee before the interview because you have some jitters. Well, if you never drink coffee to begin with, you will just have worse jitters.

That being said, there may be some little things you would want to change. If the interview is in the morning, then make sure you wake up early enough (preferably at least an hour and a half ahead of time) to make sure you have everything ready. Lay out your suit the day before (yes I said suit. That better be a suit you're laying out).

Prepare for the question interviewers will ask, no matter what

"Tell me about yourself."

It should be a 60-90 second spiel about yourself, in relation to the position you're applying for. Maybe something along the lines of:

"I am a project manager with a degree in information technology. I have 5 years experience leading teams, and 5 years of experience being the follower in a team. I adjust well to new environments, and as a personable man, I look forward to getting to know you throughout the interview."

You get the jist. That being said, make sure you research common interview questions ahead of time and see how many you can answer on the spot, and how many you need to prepare for.

Have some questions prepared yourself

Try your hardest to be insightful, but if you can't be, try some generic questions.
  • Who would I likely be working under?
  • Where would my office be?
  • What is your main expectation of me and this position? (E.g., if you're in sales, you can rewrite this as "what kind of sales figures are you looking for here?")
But, save the "benefits" question for your second interview. Don't ask about salary (salary range is okay on the first interview, but tread lightly).

Let the conversation flow

They're not only deciding whether or not you're qualified for the position, they're trying to decide whether they want to be your coworker and work with you everyday. Did they mention they had kids? Ask how many kids. Be careful though, make sure the questions you ask about personal life are only the kinds you would ask when you first meet someone. E.g., they mention they have a wife. Don't jump the gun and ask if they have kids, that could be a very personal matter. For all you know, they've just recently discovered they can't have kids and it has become a very sensitive issue. While it's unlikely, don't be that guy that gets stamped with "he reminds me of this horrible situation I'm going through..." when the interviewer is looking back through his notes.

Basically, never ask for new information. Simply confirm information they have already told you and ask for more details. "Oh you have a dog? What kind of dog is it?"

Don't fake it

Relax. Stop shifting, stop touching your face. Women, if you have a tendency to pull on your hair, an interview may be a great time for you to put it up. Someone offers you a cup of water? Take it gratefully, as your throat may get dry during the interview and you'll want it.

Good luck on your interviews friends!

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