Interview Preparation

Preparing for the Interview

Preparation is key to a successful interview – the more prepared you are, the better chance you will shine in an interview.

Basics of interviewing include:

1) Appearance & Body Language
When dressing professionally, always air on the side of being conservative. Both men and women need to wear a dark suit, closed toe shoes, minimal jewelry and little or no fragrances. Body language is extremely important. Make sure you use a firm handshake with a smile when you are meeting everyone in the company, have excellent eye contact and good posture. You are being judged from the moment you walk in the door and want to make sure you are always putting your best foot forward.

2) Research the Company & Understanding the Position
The time you invest in researching the company and understanding the position/job description will be apparent in the interview. You want to learn as much as possible to show your potential employer how interested you are and to ensure to prospective job opportunity is a good fit for you. Research the company’s website, review their online reports if publicly held, who the Company’s current competitors are, and know why the company is appealing to you. Review the job description and requirements/qualifications needed again. Spend time to draw out correlations between your experiences and those needed for the role. Speak with your recruiter and others who might be able to share insightful information about the Company, the process, and the individuals you will be speaking with in their interview process Taking time to prepare and research the company will pay off – not only in the interview process but also in helping you explore if this position is a fit for you as well.

3) Interview Location & Directions
Always make sure you have the proper location and directions a least a day or two before the interview and if possible, drive by the interview location in advance to make sure you are comfortable with where you are going. And here’s a tip, always bring some cash in case you have to pay for parking (don’t ask an employer to validate your parking stub or pay for it unless they offer).

Lastly, read over your resume before the interview and make you’re completely familiar with everything you’ve written or included and make sure you have a full understanding as to why you are looking, why you are wanting to leave your current job, etc.

Contact and partner with your recruiter to prepare further for the interview.

Interview process and closing the interview

Be sure and get to the interview early. Once the interview begins, remember to be yourself. In doing so, building rapport with the interviewer will come naturally. Enjoy the opportunity to meet more people, learn about the Company, and share your experiences and strengths. Be positive and show your enthusiasm. It is good to show energy during the interview process; energy ignites energy. Ask open ended strategic questions. It will show you have done your homework as well as show your interest in the Company. Throughout the dialogue, listen to what the interviewer has to say. It will help you understand their challenges and needs.

Before you leave the interview, ask if the interviewer has any other questions. Take this time to express your interest in the role. Ask the hiring manger what other questions he/she might have for you. At the conclusion, get the interviewer’s business card for when you send a thank you note.

Be an active participant in the interview and remember to be courteous to everyone you meet, whether it be a receptionist or the CEO of the company.

Interview Questions

In preparing, think through potential questions to be asked. Some important things to considering preparing for the interview: have thought out answers for potential questions, pay attention to and specifically address the question being asked, and stay focused in your answers (be concise). Practice your answers to these questions to make ensure your answers do not get too lengthy. Read through resources on potential questions: utilize the internet, books, and your recruiters’ experience. Below are some sample questions:

  • Why do you want to leave your present company?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
  • How would a peer describe you? How would your direct supervisor describe you?
  • What do you know about our company? Our competitors?
  • Where else are you interviewing?
  • What is your most current achievement?
  • What are your goals over the next 5-10 years? How does this role help you achieve that goal?
  • How do you handle conflict with a peer? With a superior?

Below are some sample questions to ask the employer:

  • Has there been turnover in this position?
  • Was the last person in this role promoted or did they leave the company?
  • What challenges do you face with this position?
  • What is the philosophy on training and development in the company?
  • What do you like most about working for the company? What do you like least?
  • What is the company’s vision in terms of growth over the next five years?

Leave your laundry list at home. The first interview is giving you an opportunity to get to know the employer, the employer to know you and allowing you to determine if you can and want to do the job. It is not the place for “what’s in it for me” questions. Choose a few questions to ask and let the employer lead the interview.

Rule of thumb:

  • Do not ask about salary or benefits in the interview. If the employer brings it up its fair game, but do not be the one to initiate.
  • Remember in the interview process the company is selling you and you are selling the company.
  • Present yourself as energetic, loyal, hard-working, virtuous and dedicated, rather than the opportunistic job hopper who’s only looking out for his/her own good.

Last but not least, come prepared with several copies of your resume, a portfolio, pen and paper to take notes and store information a company may give to you during the interview. You may not end up taking notes at the end, but you will be prepared.

Thank you letters

Writing a timely thank you letter after a job interview is a must A thank you letter should be sent to each individual you met with and should be personalized and well thought out. The thank you letter serves as a way to reinforce a first impression, to further express your interest in the role and Company, as well as build on the relationship already established in the interview. Doing so with not only show your enthusiasm, but more importantly it makes and impression on the interviewer and sets you apart from other candidates.

Things to consider:

  • Write a thank you letter or note no later than 24 hours after the interview.
  • Be brief and to the point. Note the job you interviewed for, and also list the date of your interview.
  • Always address a thank you letter to a person by name and title. If there are multiple people, such as a panel interview, send a separate thank you to each person. When sending more than one thank you letter, vary each letter. When thanking a potential employer, restate your interest in the position and the employer.
  • Be sure to reemphasize your most important qualifications and skills for the job.
  • Offer to provide more information if necessary.

Basic parts of a thank you letter include:

  • Statement of appreciation letting interviewer know how much you enjoyed the meeting.
  • Expression of interest in the position and Company.
  • Brief restatement of qualifications and skills.
  • Establish next steps in process and when you will follow up.

Make sure and review your thank you letter for flow and grammar before sending it as it is a reflection of you and your written communication skills. For additional information about thank you letters or to see some specific examples, contact your recruiter.