You got invited for a job interview. While there are the normal basics that you need to prepare for, there is a lot more if you want to succeed. I am probably putting more effort into interview preparation compared to many other people. On the other hand, I think that I need far fewer opportunities to land a job offer compared to other people. Certain things might look like overkill to you, but I think it is important to be better prepared than your competition. After all, you do not want to screw up the interview when everything sounds like that this could be your dream job.
Build a foundation that makes it hard to reject you!
Building up a foundation for interview might seem daunting at first. The good news is that the skills you acquire for this step carry over between the different opportunities to interview – especially assuming that you will have several interviews for similar positions, but at different companies.
The first thing you need to get worked out is your overall motivation. You must project the positive attitude that you already want the position no matter what. You must make the impression that you really want to work for the company and that this specific job is your future dream job.
Even if you do not yet have all necessary information to make a 100% qualified decision, the only way to obtain that information is by getting the hiring manager to want you. By obtaining the right attitude towards the job and the company you will be able to make the right impression. A hiring manager will tell you more than he or she would do otherwise. The moment the hiring manager likes you and feels that you are the person he or she wants, you can really obtain information that is needed to make the final decision on your end. Examples would be to really find out why the position is open or if the company has some financial problems or if it is a very political environment that brigs progress to a halt.
Having them like you will change the character of an interview almost immediately. Making it through this hurdle is half the battle. Getting the right attitude into place is the foundation for a good interview.
Analyze the Job Description
If there is a detailed job description, read it, and write each point you relate to on piece of paper. Take each point of the job description, and read it a few times. Then write down notes on how you feel about each item. Go through the job description and repeat this for each item about the job.
Read the entire list a few times and then expand the notes. Writes down why and how a certain item appeals to you and how you would describe this to the hiring manager. The goal of this task is to be able to relay in an interview why this position appealed to you wand why you think that you are the right candidate accordingly. Start fine-tuning the list and optimize your answers. Memorize your answers. This process will help you make fast and detailed responses during the interview. If you apply this correctly, your answers will come over as natural and position yourself in a good spot.
Your next step is to make a list of your strengths both soft and hard (technical) skills related to the job. Of course, describe yourself in a positive light only. Match up your skills to the items you analyzed in the step above. During an interview you want these to go hand in hand.
Your soft skills relate to your mental and psychological ability to handle the job. As an example, these skills describe your ability to pull different teams together and to get them motivated to get something done, or how you are able to mentor team members and that it is less about you, but more about the team. You get the idea; you need to exhibit the right soft skills.
Your hard skills simply refer to your technical skills to do the job. These skills are easy to measure in many ways. College education, vendor training, certifications, overall work-related knowledge—a good interviewer can easily determine if you are faking it or if you understand your skill set and how to apply it correctly.
While the job description analysis is very important, it is not complete the way I have it set up. We need to complete it, and the best way of doing so is by adding very specific examples of your accomplishments. Over the years you have probably worked on many projects or have been part of certain milestones that your old employer/department/team has achieved. Now create a list of the most important ones and how they prove to your potentially new employer that you got what it takes.
Your examples must be quantifiable when talking about accomplishments, milestones, and process changes. Be very specific and tell them what exactly you did and how it has done for the company or department. Cut out the fluffy stuff. Show how you saved money and at the same time were able to increase sales or productivity. Order your list of examples by picking the one that relates closest to the new opportunity at top. Anything that helps the interviewer to see the benefit in hiring you compared to someone else should be made visible during an interview.
Write down the examples you have in mind and match them up with the job description analysis.
Dress Code for Face–to–Face Interviews
Dress nice! Dress professionally! Wear something you feel and look great in. While a suit might not be your everyday style of clothing, it is necessary for any job interview. Even if you know that the company dress code is casual or business casual, you always want to arrive in business attire. If a company is extremely well-known for a very relaxed dress code, men can take of the tie, but personally I would wear a tie for a first round in-person interview. It’s easier to dress down for round #2 than having destroyed your chances for round #2 altogether by being too casual for an interview. Often interviewers might even mention “feel free do dress down for the next interview” or “just come as you are.”
For men, wear a suit and tie; for women, a skirt or pant suit is appropriate. Women should not wear dangly jewelry. Be conservative with your choice of jewelry.
For your choice of clothing, pick matching colors; do not look like clown with all colors mixed up. For men, please do not wear white sox when dressed in a suit. You get the idea. Ask friends or family for help if you are unsure about the right choice.
Also, please make sure that you’re well groomed. Your hair style should not match what you look like on a Sunday morning when rolling out of bed after having been out to bars all night. Consider a haircut if you are unsure about your looks. It is easier to regrow hair than having your mullet coming between you and your dream job. Of course I am exaggerating as you can certainly tell, but I want to make sure that you fully understand what I am talking about. Again, I am all up for may the best candidate get the job offer and I want that to be you. If you can shift the needle towards your direction by putting in just a tiny bit more effort, then do it.
Research the Company
Earlier I had you review and analyze the job description. While you need to match up to the job description, you also need to know about the company itself. This does not have to be very deep, but know the basics – especially if you are interviewing with a specific division or business unit. You do not want to come over as ignorant and cannot recall what their main products are.
If you get caught with your pants down, do not make up stuff. The interviewer will easily be able to tell. If you get asked about their website and if you had a chance to look at their website (and you actually didn’t), you need to be careful. This is one of the easiest things to screw up on.
There are ways to get yourself out of the situation without losing your shirt. Confirm that you did not look at their website “in too much detail” as you were researching them through third-party websites and press releases (to get an unbiased opinion about the company).
Make sure that you are able to backup this statement if asked which websites you used to research. You can also use this question to show initiative by saying that you did some research, but were hoping to have them tell you more about their products in detail. If you are able to phrase this correctly, it moves the attention away from you and the interviewer will briefly describe certain product and service-related aspects.
However, you really want to look at their website before the interview. If you did – even briefly, you can answer the original question and avoid going to deep “into what you saw” by just acknowledging that you looked at the website and by expanding providing some (professional) comment about their website. “I liked the layout and navigation while browsing around. However, I also did some research on third-party websites to get an open opinion about your company.”
With this type of answer you redirect the attention away from your 10-second visit to their website (shame on you) and actually show that you went above and beyond and have certain professionalism when it comes to important things. You hear me being a bit cynical here; don’t get me wrong – I don’t like these types of questions. I think it is a filler question for an interview and there is barely any value coming from it that would help to make a decision to hire you or not hire you.