Preparing for the Job Interview
Researching any prospective employer serves two purposes. First, it allows you to evaluate whether or not you want to work there. A potential employer often sounds promising but after researching them you might find out that it is not a good fit with your interests and professional goals. Research thus prevents you from making a mistake. Not all job offers are worth the trouble, but it’s up to you to go to the trouble of finding out if it is. When preparing for the job interview, see also this short Kaye/Bassman International Search Process video that will help to make sure your interview will be effective. It may all sound a bit “bossy” but it has some good elements:
Secondly, if you research a company well, it may help you to impress your interviewer. The job interview is your perfect chance for selling yourself and knowing a lot about your prospective employer shows that you’re really interested in the job and that you’re really motivated to get the position. You need to portray politely and positively that you are knowledgeable about the organization and do have something to offer it.
Your CV/resume may already have shown some good examples of your team player skills, but now you’ll have to convince them as well that you’ll fit their team. Research enables you to form a picture of what their “team” looks like. Solid research enables you to say at the end of the interview confidently: “I’m absolutely interested in getting this position. What would be the next step?”
When you’re researching a prospective employer, irrespective of the size, you need to identify the areas that concern or interest you the most. These facts should come in handy when it comes time to formulate your questions. There is a myriad of facts and factors you can find out about, especially for larger companies. You only need to delve as far as you need to until you feel you have a good grasp of what a particular employer is about.
Prepare yourself mentally
There are a few things that you can do to prepare yourself mentally the day before the interview. It’s best not to leave it until the day of the interview, though, and keep in mind that you only get one chance to make a first and lasting impression.
• Remember your weaknesses and strengths and know exactly what should say and should not say during your interview. Identify your key strengths, with examples from your past experience, that you can describe to employers. This will help them visualize you as a strong candidate. These examples should be as relevant to the company as possible.
• Remember the problem areas in your record and be prepared to offer a good explanation for these during the interview. Hopefully, these areas won’t be touched upon, but it is best to be prepared. Resolve and commit yourself to never volunteer negative information about yourself or a former employer.
• You may want to write out practice answers to possible questions from the interviewer. Seeing your answers in print is training your subconscious mind, which will help you during the interview by recalling what you had written the night before. That kind of memory training is only good for 24 hours, so only do this the night before.
• You can do a mock interview with a friend or relative. It may even be a good idea to videotape yourself to lend a whole new slant on things. Be aware of the fact that most people don’t approve of the way that they look or behave on videotape. We especially don’t like the sound of our voices. Don’t let this phenomenon affect your confidence. You can’t change your appearance overnight, or a lifetime of habits. However, do observe your performance for obviously negative things that you would find off-putting if you interviewed someone. Only keep one negative observation in mind, because that will be difficult enough to remedy during an interview.
• Memorize your list of questions that you are going to ask the interviewers.
• Lay out your clothing in advance the night before. You don’t want to be frantically searching for a missing sock or clean shirt when you should have left for the interview. Your appearance will not win you any points if it is suitable, but it is unsuitable it will cost you dearly. Dress to project an image of confidence and success, but your total appearance should be suitable for the interview. When undecided what to wear it is best to always err on the side of caution and be conservative.
You may want to tone down some of your personal grooming features such as having minimal jewelry, no overwhelming perfume or deodorant, disguising or hiding tattoos or body piercing, or anything else that may be considered as over-the-top for what could be considered as conservative for your industry. When you want to make a career change, consider career coaching.
• Make sure that what you decide to wear is clean and neatly ironed. Take care of other time-consuming chores like polishing your shoes and trimming your nails the day before the interview. You don’t want to spend much time preparing for the interview the next day. You run the risk of having too many things to do with too little time, all being compounded by being in a naturally mildly nervous or excited state.
• Decide on how you are going to make your way to the interview venue. Make sure you know exactly how to get there and have alternative transport plan in mind. Aim to be there at least 10 minutes earlier than what is required. Arriving late is perhaps the worst possible start to an interview.
• Have the interview venue address and contact person’s name and phone number written on a small piece of paper to take along with you. You may want your agent’s or the company’s HR department’s contact details include in case there is a problem on your way there or at the reception area.
• Gather all the materials and documents you’ll need for the interview in one place. Choose somewhere you will have to see them before leaving. You may want to include copies of your CV/resume, a few good references and the directions to the interview venue.
• If you are in an industry that uses portfolios to demonstrate your past accomplishments and the quality of work that you produce, be sure to have these ready to take with you. You might want to include writing samples, flyers about events you planned, letters of recognition or any media articles about something you accomplished or were involved in. Be ready to support past career accomplishments with specific proof or information targeted toward the company’s needs.
• Make the efforts of taking your smartest and neatest pen along for the interview. You may want to make brief notes during the interview or you may be asked to fill in some forms. Rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.