I can’t stress the importance of interview preparation. Think of your interview as a sales pitch. It’s imperative to learn all you can about a company and its open position. The job listing has given you the basic facts, but you can use other sources. Talk to industry associates to discover the normal issues for the position type. If you’ve been listening to what I’ve been preaching, then you have made friends with a number of recruiters. They can tell you what to expect and what type of questions you might be asked. This could make the difference between getting hired or rejected.
You need to lead the interview conversation to show that the company will benefit from hiring you. You can’t go in cold. Make an outline or jot down bullet points that emphasize your strengths. You’ve already listed them in your resume. Think about questions that might be asked about your previous work and how you solved problems for former employers. Know ahead of time where you want your career to go and how the interviewing position will help you fulfill your goals.
Jot down examples of your leadership skills. Come up with numbers that will affect the interviewing company’s bottom line or overall business. You need to have anecdotes and facts that you can reinforce throughout the interview that prove you are the person they must hire.
Because you shouldn’t take notes into an interview with you, practice what you are going to say in front of a mirror or in front of family or friends. Do some role playing with one of them and ask them to try and trip you up. You need to be ready to respond quickly to anything the interviewer asks you.
Let’s face it, no matter how much you prepare, the conversation may not go as you expected. So, search for chances to weave your strengths and the benefits you will bring to the company throughout the conversation. Most of the time, your prepared materials will find its way into the conversation. Just stay in “sales mode” and remember that you are selling yourself.
Finally, present a nice appearance and interject examples of your work where applicable. Be relaxed but respectfully, and let your personality shine through. Treat the interviewer as someone you’d like to get to know, not someone to be feared. Remember, you’re there to solve a problem for him/her.
The simple fact is that things may not go your way, but by thoroughly preparing, you’ll have a much better chance than just “winging it.”
Carol McKibben has 20 years experience as a C-Level Executive in the publishing and technology industries. She addresses human resources from a hiring manager’s perspective.