You've impressed an employer with your resume and they called you to schedule an interview. You're ecstatic. Now, it's time to get over the ecstasy and start preparing for the interview.
How do you prepare properly? Follow these five "must knows" of interview preparation:
Know Yourself. You got the interview, so you must have already communicated much of this in your resume and cover letter. Now, think about how you'll describe yourself. What truly sets you apart from other candidates? What's your "personal brand"? What are the strengths you bring to the job? Also, be prepared to answer typical and atypical interview questions. What are your career goals? Why do you want to leave your current employer? How can this job help you accomplish your career goals?
Know Your Resume. The interviewer has painted a mental picture of you by reading your resume and cover letter. Be sure you have a copy to refer to as you prepare for the interview. Since your resume should be targeted at the job description, you need to look for the parts they might ask questions about. For instance, you may have written about an accomplishment from a previous job that is not fresh in your mind but is critical to the position you're seeking. So, jog your memory for some details that you can cite during the interview. CareerBuilder.com recently asked about 3,000 hiring managers about interview blunders by job candidates, and 30% said "not offering specific answers to interview questions" was a common and detrimental gaffe.
Know the Company. Go into an interview without having researched the employer and your candidacy may well be dead before your seat turns warm. With all the information available on the web, and the rise in importance of networking, you have no excuse for not knowing important data about the company before you walk into the interview. Fortunately, we're getting better at this, according to a recent Accountemps survey of senior executives with the nation's largest companies. The survey found that about four of every five executives (79%, to be exact) said candidates either somewhat or very frequently demonstrate knowledge of companies during interviews. That's up from 59% in 1997.
Know What You Want to Ask. Close to half (48%) of the CareerBuilder survey base named "appearing disinterested" as a common interview faux pas among candidates. To demonstrate your interest, prepare two lists: questions whose answers you need to know and another of what you want to know. Which questions go where? That depends on what you feel is crucial to deciding whether you might want to take the job if it's offered.
Know Your Interviewers. If the hiring manager or would-be boss is interviewing you, get to know about them, namely, their managerial styles, how they might react in a hypothetical scenario, such as a pressing project deadline or an unexpected drop in revenue. If you know the names and roles of your interviewers ahead of time, find out about them through their bios on the company web site (if they're available) or through a web search. Gain a sense of what it would be like working for and with these people.
Do you have any suggestions on what you need to do to prepare for a job interview? Please share them with us.