The Career Development Process: Interview Preparation
You found a job you want. You polished your resume and applied. And now, you’ve landed an interview. For most jobs, only a handful of applicants make it to this step. Being invited to an interview is a clear sign that the company is legitimately interested in you as a candidate. Usually, the interview is the last step before a job offer is extended. It can make or break your chances of landing the job, so preparation is key.
First of all, you need to do a little research. Almost every company has a website. At the very least, you need to review the site and try to understand exactly what the company does. Candidates with minimal knowledge of a company do not impress interviewers. Also pay attention to the way the company talks about itself. Does it want to be viewed as a technologically-advanced, forward-thinking organization or does it pride itself on being a traditional family business? Does it seem relaxed and casual or is it formal and conservative? These nuances could provide you with some clues on how you want to present yourself during the interview and what aspects of your experience you’ll want to highlight.
While you’re busy online researching the company, stop by Glassdoor.com. The site provides anonymous feedback about companies from current and former employees. Like most anonymous online postings, it tends to skew toward harsher criticism, but it does have value to a job seeker. If you see one or two criticisms pop up repeatedly, you may want to ask some questions about it during the interview.
Speaking of questions, it is imperative that you have a few questions stashed away for the interview. Almost any job interview will end with the interviewer asking, “So, do you have any questions for me?” The answer should always be “Yes.” You look like you’re disengaged if you don’t have a single question to ask. Think about topics that might not ordinarily come up during the interview: the company’s culture, room for advancement, the supervisor’s management style, team dynamics, the company’s future, etc. Consider what is truly important to you and your possible future with the company.
Spend some time revisiting the job description and your resume. Try to think about these documents from the interviewer’s perspective and be critical. You’re looking for any weaknesses that the interviewer might pick up on. Maybe you’re missing one of the preferred qualifications or you’ve never performed one of the job duties. A weakness like that is not a deal breaker – after all, the company agreed to interview you despite the weakness – but you need to recognize that you will probably have to defend the deficiency. Try to think of other tasks you have done that might be similar. If all else fails, express your enthusiasm for learning the new skill and come up with some examples that demonstrate how you have learned other new skills on previous jobs.
It might also be worthwhile to start prepping answers to some of the standard interview questions. You never know what an interviewer could throw at you, but some of the old standbys include:
- What attracted you to this position?
- What can you bring to the position that others can’t?
- What’s your greatest strength? Your greatest weakness?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
Finally, take care of all the small details the night before the interview. Select your outfit and have it laid out and ready to go. Collect any paperwork you plan to take with you (resume, references, application, etc.). Head over to Google and map out the route to the interview. And then, make sure you get a good night’s sleep so that you will be sharp and relaxed the following day.
With a little preparation, you can march into any job interview feeling confident. Spend some time preparing for your interview, and lay the foundation for success.
Written by Erik Siwak, Communications Manager for Bridgepoint Education