1. Do your homework. Research the company on the web and through your network. Make sure you know the following before interviewing:
- Company history (founders or management of the firm, date of inception, etc)
- Company products or service (and their value proposition in the market)
- Who the customers, clients and/or investors are
- Size of company and number of employees
- Whether they are publicly or privately traded and if public, what is the current stock value?
- Work history of the person(s) you are meeting
- The culture of the firm
- An understanding of (and empathy for) the short term problems they are facing.
Once equipped with this knowledge, use it to your advantage but it doesn’t need to come out at once…it should be used intermittently throughout your interview to show you’ve done your homework.
2. Get there early, but not too early—10-15 minutes early is advised.
3. When you arrive, make sure you are polite with the receptionist—s/he can often be a decision maker.
4. Travel light. Take your coat off and only carry a light briefcase or purse.
5. You need to be more awake than the rest of the employees in that office—you want to be alert and on top of your game.
6. Shake hands firmly.
7. Ask questions. Be prepared to have a back and forth conversation so you are not the only one answering question after question. Actively participate in your interview. Start with a question based on your research of the interviewer’s background. You should come prepared to ask 1-3 questions about each of the following:
- The Company:
- “How has the economy affected your organization?”
- “Have there been any recent changes internally?”
- “How do you distinguish your services/strategies from your competitors?”
- The Position:
This is an excellent way to learn about your growth potential without ACTUALLY asking about growth (this is taboo—you do NOT want to ask about growth on your 1st interview—this is a time for YOU to impress them, not vice versa). In asking these questions, you will learn about how your role will change and likely augment over time once you have mastered the first few initiatives outlined for you but you’ve phrased it to allow them to think “this is what I want him/her to do for us in their first few months here.”
- “Why is this position available?”
- “What would you consider to be the three most important characteristics for someone stepping into this role?”
- “What are common attributes of employees that have succeeded within this organization?” iv. “What would you consider to be the greatest challenge for someone stepping into this position?”
- “How does this position interact with other teams within the firm?”
- “If I were to join, what would be the main tasks/goals for me to accomplish within my first 6 months of being here?”
- “Beyond that, what would be the main objectives for me within my first 1-2 years of employment?”
- The Interviewer:
This is critical—many people forget that everyone wants to hire someone they can work with…break that barrier and become friendly with your interviewer—it will separate you from others.
- “How long have you worked here?
- “What have you enjoyed most about working for this team?”
- “What has been your biggest accomplishment since joining the firm?”
- “What was the steepest learning curve you faced upon joining the team?”
8. No negatives. You do not want to bad mouth a previous employer or boss.
9. Give examples! Support every statement with a concise yet descriptive example to fully demonstrate your knowledge, experience, and ability to articulate what you have done and can do. Everything from a project you spearheaded to a strength you claim to have needs to have a supporting statement to prove it. Anyone can walk into an office and claim to be a proactive worker and a team player but the individual that proves it with a real life example, illustrates that they truly possess these skills.
10. Have fun! This is “show and tell” for grown-ups… it’s a chance to brag about all you have done.
11. Wrapping up the interview:
If you are asked, “Do you have any other questions for me?” ALWAYS have one more question ready to be asked. This is a classic way for interviewers to wrap things up once your interview is coming to an end and this is YOUR opportunity to position yourself well. A few ideas:
- “Yes, I do appreciate your time but I hadn’t had the chance to ask you about …” and refer to the above questions.
- “Actually, I wanted to know if, at this point in time, you had any reservations about my ability to do this job?” This is a great question because it gives you the ability to stomp out any concerns your interviewer may have about your background before you walk out of the office.
- “Yes, I am curious to find out how far along you are in this process and what the next steps would be for me?” This question allows you to move the process along in your favor, hopefully securing a 2nd interview or gaining a sense as to where things stand in the process.
- Thank your interviewer for his/her time.
- Be certain to let them know that you are interested in the opportunity. Your interviewer would rather hear it from you than from me…
12. Tuck in your chair when you get up from your seat. You should leave the conference room or the interviewers office orderly so properly tuck your seat back in once the interview has been concluded.