Job interview preparation is common sense. We know the value of preparing the used car or boat so it will sell for the highest possible price. We clean it up, polish the chrome, replace broken parts and research the prices of similar vehicles. All to make sure we get the highest price and quickest sale.
Why then do so many think they can go into a job interview with little or no preparation? Getting the right job and working at it for over 20 years could mean a million or more dollars in additional income compared to getting the wrong job. Why wouldn’t you spend the time and effort in interview preparation to possibility generate thousands in additional income in a job you love?
Interview preparation is not just considering how to answer a series of tough questions. It ranges from your appearance, to company and industry research to a well written thank-you letter after the interview to proper job interview follow-up.
To often the job hunter is so elated at getting the job interview that they neglect the preparation. The interview will be about their qualifications, and who knows more about that than the candidate, they reason. So they go into the interview and get beat out by the more prepared competitor who has less job related skills and qualifications.
Don’t let this happen to you. Here are some ideas to become the best prepared among all the candidates.
1. Research the employer’s needs. Carefully read the job announcement. Search for others working at the prospective employer to get a better feel for the internal work climate. Talk to others working in a similar job at other employers and find out what key requirements make others successful in the job.
Plan to ask questions in the interview to increase your understanding of needs of the position. All will help you in answering questions so you frame the answers to provide assurance to the interviewer that you are the one who can do the job. Further, this will provide the necessary empathy to help you connect with the interviewer.
2. You must have a high level of interest in the job. A keen interest in the position will leave no doubt in the interviewers mind that you are excited about the prospect of getting the job.
Ask for the job at the end of the interview and in your thank-you letter express additional interest in the job. Enthusiasm in doing the job, you are looking forward to the challenges involved will many times push you ahead of the candidate who neglects this vital step.
3. Practice, practice and then practice your answering a series of tough interview questions. With today’s technology, it’s no excuse not to be able to tape you answers and your overall interview presentation. How you sit, how often you smile, how you listen, your appearance, the tone of your voice, your interest in the job and possible bad habits will all be revealed in the mock interview.
If you have gap in the required skills or qualifications develop an answer that will bridge the gap. You either have another matching skill, you are learning the skill, or a combination of the two.
Have others critique your performance. Keep doing the mock interviews until you’re satisfied with your performance.
4. The interviewer is looking for someone who is confident of their abilities. How you answer the questions is important. Can you tell a compelling story of a relevant accomplishment? Does the story sparkle, can the interviewer feel your confidence of a job well done and obstacles you overcame?
If so, you just gained more points by your intensity and your quiet confidence of your abilities.
5. You are on the interviewer’s turf and many times the interview is scheduled for a set period of time. So in answering open-ended questions you could go on for ten minutes or longer. This could be the kiss of death in an interview.
In answering an open-ended question like, “tell me about the biggest problem you had to overcome,” a good strategy is to respond that you’ll give them a short answer and if they want to go into greater depth you’ll be happy to provide them with the longer version.
You are now being polite and considerate which again adds to the assurance the interviewer is looking for in the candidates.