Interview prep 101
Your phone rings…you answer enthusiastically and with anticipation. It’s the recruiter you recently spoke with. You remember, the one that told you about your dream job, the job that ticks all the boxes at a company you have been following for years. The recruiter has actually secured you an interview, you agree on a mutually agreeable time and date.
Now it’s time to prepare!
First off, get as much information as you can from the recruiter to help you.
- Will the interview by via phone, video, face to face (if face to face what is their COVID protocol?)
- Who is interviewing you? Get their names and LinkedIn profiles if you can.
- What will the interview process be?
- Will it be conversational based around your experience on your resume?
- Will it be competency based?
- Will it be technical?
- What is the interviewer’s usual interview style?
(A good recruiter should provide you with all this information anyway, because they want you to get the job.)
So now it’s your turn…
Looking at the company website is not enough in today’s competitive job market. But the good news is Google, LinkedIn, and business news sites have all the information you need and its incredibly easy to access. Other business research such as Gartner and Forrester Research can be useful to see what the company does and who they compete with.
Information to research:
- Firstly, be sure what the company does today, not what you think they were doing a few years ago (especially in the world of tech). Examine their website what are their products or services? Learn their customers, who are they selling too?
- Who are their competitors and what sets them apart from them?
- Refer to the business news, have they announced any new ventures, acquisitions, mergers, products, partnerships or new C-level hires?
- Are they publicly traded, or about to get ready for an IPO? If publicly traded how is their stock performing.
- Look through their employees on LinkedIn and your network, do you know anyone that is working there that you can mention. Or ask for a reference from? Sometimes in this game it’s not what you know, but who you know that can be your biggest advantage!
- Look up your interviewers, do you have any commonality? Did you go to the same school or support the same causes? Finding something in common with the interviewer will help you relax and personalize them. It also shows you have taken an interest in them as a person. This can be especially useful today during COVID, and you are only interviewing remotely.
The information that you find and use throughout the interview helps convey how interested you truly are. It also shows engagement and a level of commitment. Showing commitment even before you have become an employee, this is an appealing quality to a future employee. It will help convey your passion and enthusiasm, which are key traits many employers seek.
So now you know all about the company…But do you know enough about yourself?
Know your resume inside and out. You can’t prepare for every single question that they you will be ask. But remembering your achievements will certainly help on the day. Take a copy of your resume with you, both for you and your interviewer. That way if your mind does go blank you can take a look and remind yourself. If the interview is remote just have a copy printed in front of you, again to refer too if you lose your train of thought.
The chances are if they are asking about your achievements, they may also ask about a time when you failed, or something didn’t go to plan. Have an example of that in your mind too and how you overcame this. We all fail in life but it’s how we get past these situations that help us grow and develop. That’s what the interviewer will be looking for.
There are plenty of resources out there on the internet that have example interview questions. It might be useful to run through some of the questions and start thinking of how you would answer questions like that.
Interviewing is a two-way street
Prepare questions to ask. Some may get answered as you go through the interview. But it always good to have a list of 5-10 printed off to take in with you. Again, that way you can refer to them if you get nervous or forget.
Example questions of what to ask in an interview can include:
- If I were successful in this role, what would a typical day in this role look like?
- What are your expectations for this position for the first 30, 60 and 90 days?
- Where do you see the company going in the next 12-24 months?
- What was it that drew you to the company?
- What do you like most about working here?
- Can you describe the culture of the company?
- Who do you consider your top competitor and why?
- What are the biggest challenges facing your team/department right now?
- What is the typical career path for someone in this role?
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
Scroll over the sections below for specific information about how to interview over the phone, video call or in person.
Scroll here for tips about Interviewing over the phone
Interviewing over the phone
- Make sure you are in quiet area, with no distractions, good cell coverage, and enough battery!
- Make sure you aren’t driving. This is a red flag that you are not given them your full attention.
- Have a copy of your resume in front of you to refer too.
- Write notes, that you can look back at. These might be useful for the next step in the process, and if you have the luxury of more than one offer to choose from in the end this might make the decision easier.
- Smile, sure they can’t see it. But smiling helps convey enthusiasm and people can really tell a difference when someone is happy.
Scroll here for tips on interviewing via video conference
Interviewing via video conference
- If there is a Teams, Skype, Zoom, WebEx etc. and you need to dial into, get on there a few minutes early. To ensure the link is working and that way no one is waiting on you. If you can’t get on the link for whatever reason you have time to contact the recruiter to work together to get the issue resolved.
- Again, make sure that you are in a quiet area, ensure your laptop is charged or charging.
- Ensure your Wi-Fi connection is strong.
- Wear interview attire, as if you were going to an in-person interview. Personally, I would recommend from head to toe. Just in case you do end up standing to adjust your screen or positioning for any reason.
- Make sure there is no glare on your screen or coming from behind you and you are in good lighting.
- Smiles use positive body language. From the interviewer’s point of view, they may only be able to see your head and shoulders. So, show warmth and interest with what you can.
Scroll here for tips on interviewing in person
Interviewing in person
- Go suited and booted in an outfit that makes you feel confident but that is also business appropriate. Be sure to ask their COVID protocol in advance, as many more employers are requesting candidates be vaccinated or have a negative test then its to be prepared with a mask and your vaccine card.
- This may seem obvious but make sure you shower that day; you may sweat more out of nerves and adrenaline. Ensure your personal hygiene is good. Fresh breath, hair styled, make up (if you wish), perhaps cologne or perfume (but be careful not to overdo it).
- Map your route. Know where you are going. If you have time do a trial run, see how long it took for you to get there. Allow extra time, you can always sit in your car and wait if you get there too early.
- Don’t overdo it on the caffeine, your natural adrenaline will kick in anyway. You don’t want to be jittery or shaking. Caffeine will only exaggerate your nerves.
- Take a note pad, pen, several copies of your resume and any key points that your learnt about the company that you might like to discuss. If you have portfolio of work that is relevant to the position take that too. Take your questions too, in case you forget them at the end.
- Remember you don’t have to answer every question straight away; it is okay to take a few minutes to think and gather your thoughts. Rather than waffling on, and not really answering the question.
- Smile! Use positive body language. Have a firm handshake, use eye contact and nod when the interviewer in speaking to show you are listening and following what they are saying. Don’t interrupt but it is okay to ask questions through the interview too. Express opinions in agreement or give an example that is relevant to what they are saying.
- Thank the interviewer for their time and let them know you are looking forward to hearing about the next steps.