:You have put a lot of effort into preparing yourself to make a successful career transition. Now that you have come this far, you do not want to loose opportunities due to being poorly prepared. Just because you are smart, talented, and have invested money and time does not mean that you can think on your feet and obtain the job of your dreams. Even the best sales people have trouble convincing company interviewers to extend them an offer. Even if you decide to take a path that does not require an interview, such as starting your own company, you still need to prepare for success.
Learn to Showcase Your Talents
As an interviewer, a common mistake I have seen is candidates responding to questions in the future tense. Rather than saying what they have already accomplished, they tell me what they would do if faced with a particular situation. All of us could narrate incredible stories about what we would do if faced with a certain circumstance, but answering this way does not give the interviewer enough information or showcase your best qualities. Additionally, you may appear unprepared, evasive, or not qualified for the position due to the lack of information received by the interviewer. Being able to “tell your story,” (i.e. your qualifications, skills, and accomplishments) is critical.
Be an Investigator
Preparing for an interview does not just mean practicing interview questions that you think the interviewer will ask you. You can practice all day long and get to a point of feeling secure in your answers. However, you will also be measured on how well you listen and ask probing questions. For example, if you are a bad listener you might focus too much on selling yourself to the company and not enough time trying to understand the job requirements. This could cause unnecessary frustration because you might end up in an uninteresting career with no future. Prior to each interview, you need to figure out why you are interested in the company and why they are interested in you
Research Prospective Employers
Seek to learn as much as you can about a prospective employer before the actual interview. Focus your research on a few key areas. First, pay special attention to the job requirements. Be sure that you are intimately familiar with expectations for the job and how you stack up against those expectations. Second, pay attention to logistics. Find information so you understand where you are going and how long it will take to get there. Always assume that you will get lost and plan accordingly. By doing this, you have less chance of being late to the interview. If you have never been to the city or state of the employer, clarify all the details of your trip beforehand.
Next, make sure you understand what the company does to generate revenue. You can obtain this information by reviewing the website. You can also search through annual reports, if available, to find key information, such as core businesses, profit-and-loss data, future plans, and mission statements. Having this information can help you tailor your questions to fit what you know about the company. This makes for a stimulating and interactive meeting.
Finally, try to learn about each person who will be interviewing you. Connect with your network to obtain back door information and research industry journals or the web to find information. These people may have spoken at conferences or tradeshows and understanding what topics they speak on might help you build rapport and boost your chances of getting a second interview.
To organize your research strategy, review the book “Researching Your Way to A Good Job” (1993, John Wiley & Sons) by business librarian Karmen Crowther. She explains exactly what you need to know to prepare for interviews.
Decide What Qualities You Want to Convey
Developing a bag of tricks, i.e. your stories, is the most important aspect of interview preparation. However, it is impossible to have a story for every possible question you may be asked! To select which stories to tell, create a list of your best qualities. Perhaps you are detail-oriented, calm during a crisis, or a good planner. Pare down the list based on your most important traits, and the qualities that you think the employer seeks. Learn more about what the employer is looking for by studying the company’s website, reviewing the job description, and talking to people you know at the company. Remember that most companies have competencies assigned to the positions they are hiring for and your thorough research will enable you to prove that you are the best fit for the job.