5 steps to prep for that tough job interview
Thursday, April 09, 2015
You made it past the thousands of others jockeying to get an interview for your dream job, and the big day is approaching. Odds are what got you in the door is not enough to get you the offer.
Fortunately, preparing is easy if you remember that interviewers really just want to hear three things:
- you are impressed by the organization
- you would be honored to join their organization
- you are taking this opportunity seriously
To do that, just take these simple steps to ensure you rise to the top of the list.
1. Be prepared
It should go without saying at this point, but unfortunately too many people show up ill-prepared for the interview — and that is the quickest way to get dismissed. Preparing for an interview is easy and can take as little as 15 minutes of Web browsing.
Use LinkedIn to learn more about the interview panel. Figure out groups or individuals you may have in common or how your role may interact with theirs. You should also learn about the organization, their current focus and any timely information you can get from social media.
A few well-placed comments about upcoming events or shared groups will help strengthen connections with the interviewers.
2. Write questions
If you were interviewing candidates for the role, what would you want to know?
List at least 10 questions you would ask and the key components you would want in the answers. Then, figure out where your skills and experience meet or exceed expectations, as well as where you may fall a little short.
3. Practice answers
Practice is critical. Unfortunately, most people only practice the answers to the questions they feel expose a weakness in their skill set.
The problem is that candidates end up doing well on the tough questions and blow the easy ones. Be sure you practice an answer for all of the questions you wrote above, even if it seems easy.
By this time in your life you know your nervous ticks. Take them on by coming up with counter moves to diffuse them.
For example, if you are a fast talker, take a breath after each sentence. If you tend to get lost in your own stories, start the answer by stating what you will say, say it, then recap.
If you cannot come up with a coping strategy, try acknowledging it when you catch yourself doing it. Everyone sitting around the table has been in your situation. They will relate, even if they do not say it out loud.
5. Write questions, part 2
Show up with a notebook or tablet or whatever you take notes on and have some meaningful questions you want to ask the interviewer.
Do not ask about salary or benefits — those questions are best saved until later in the process. Do ask about their ideal candidate, timelines for accomplishing tasks, long-term strategic vision or any other question that might help you understand what they want while showing them you are interested in their thoughts.
No one wants to get to the end of the interview and hear that you have no questions for them. After all, they are all so fascinating, the organization is amazing and the job is your dream job — how could you have no questions for them?
Even if they did answer all of your questions, draft a few questions that flip the question nicely back to them and get them talking about themselves. It is the best way to get them feeling good and you can end on a high note.
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