interviewing 101Preparation and Research are key to Interviewing

Interviewing 101: For many, interviewing is a stressful process, that is a requirement, but one we wish we could avoid. It throws us off our “normal game”, and we often stress even more afterwards. The secret not known by many is that interviewing is just as nerve racking for the employer. It is a “time-eater”, which could be spent with other daily duties. Finding time that they can be not distracting to speak with you is next to impossible. Still many interviewees do not follow simple steps, to make them memorable, and land the job they are interviewing for. Following are a few simple steps that should be followed, to insure everyone comes away feeling great about the time spent, and getting you the job you want. They may seem obvious, but so many miss many, if not all of them.

Wondering how to prepare for an interview?

1. Fully understand the job and make sure you can see yourself in the position is a key in lesson in Interviewing 101. Sounds obvious, but many times, candidates will apply to a job because they feel the job matches their skill set, but does it match your other needs. Before applying to any job, determine what has you looking for a new position. Is there a specific issue at work that is at the root of things, and is that something that can be removed, going to a new job? What outside of salary, benefits, and vacation, are important to you? Do you have outside commitments that would require an employer to be understandable and flexible? Is work life balance important? Is there a specific benefit (401k, tuition reimbursement, car allowance, etc.), that is a requirement for you? Does the job offer it? If not, why apply? Most companies will not ‘add’ a benefit because an employee needs it, so make sure their policies match what you are looking for before wasting your time, or theirs.

2. Research the company, and the requirements of the specific position you are applying for. If working with a recruiter, they will be able to get you answers to your questions. If applying directly, research the company website. See if you are connected to anyone on LinkedIn that works at the company, or are a 2nd degree connection. Ask for an “insider” view of the company. Make sure that matches what you are looking for. If it doesn’t, keep looking, if it does, start getting ready for your interview.

3. Understand the goal of the interview. Very few companies do a one and hire interview. Most have a 2, 3, or more step process. When asked to interview, find out the goal of the interview. Is it a technical phone screen? What are some areas they will focus one? Is it a technical face to face? Who will I be meeting with? Understanding the scope of the interview, will help you prepare your questions. Asking the wrong question, at the wrong interview, can often, and will often, derail your candidacy for the position. If it’s a technical interview, come with your technical questions focused on the same areas you were told the interview would focus on. Save questions about benefits, pay, vacation, etc., for any time you spend with a recruiter, or HR representative.

4. Present like you want the job. We’ve all heard the phrase, dress for the job you want, not the one you have. This is true for interviewing. Regardless if the interviewer is in jeans, and a t-shirt, you should always dress in your best clothes, have shined shoes, and be presentable and hygienic. Sounds funny to read, but so many miss this. Your initial representation is the one that sticks in people’s minds. Make it the best it can be. The second part is being timely. Be 15 minutes early. You can sit and wait, but the fact that you are there, lets the interviewer know are serious about it. It sets a tone that you are eager to speak with them, and interviewers appreciate that.

5. Follow-up, but don’t pester. A lost practice is the thank you note (could be an email) to an interviewer and a key lesson in interviewing 101. Thank them for taking the time from their schedule to speak with you. Ask any questions that fit into the scope of the interview that you may not have gotten a chance to ask in the interview. Listen to the response you receive. If they say they’ll have an answer in a week, wait the week, plus one day. People get busy, and things get delayed. Portray interest, but not over eagerness, or being desperate.

Interviewing 101: These steps may all seem like simple things that are always done, but daily, recruiters get feedback from companies, about how these simple steps were forgotten, and their candidate is no longer being considered. Following them, will greatly increase your chances, and leave everyone feeling better, and less stressed.