10 Things You Should Do in an Interview (Part I)

6 12 2010

The goals of the interview are to learn as much as you can about the responsibilities and requirements of the position, to get a good offer, and to decide if you can do the job well and are interested in the job.

Here are the first 5 of 10 Things You Should Do in an Interview:

1.  Know Yourself!

Do a thorough self-assessment to know your career/work values, your interests, your strengths, and your relevant experience, accomplishments, education/training, etc.  You are there to explain to the interviewer how you match what they are looking for.  You are also there to find out if the job is a match.

2.  Know the Company!

Do thorough research of the company – financial picture, products/services, divisions/subsidiaries, locations, history, culture, and recent/current news.  There is no excuse not to know what is happening with the company – are they merging, acquiring another company, being acquired, laying off workers, introducing a new product, etc?  Learn as much as you can about the department including the structure, culture, and growth opportunity, the hiring manager, and the position (responsibilities and requirements).  Of course, read what you can on the website, but also search the news, and most importantly, tap into your network.

Know the dress code, and dress appropriately.  Rule of thumb is to dress one level better than their standard dress code (better to be over-dressed than under-dressed).

3.  Practice, Practice, Practice!

Practice questions you are going to ask, and questions you may be asked.  Do not memorize your responses – you will not be genuine.  After doing your research, you can anticipate what the company is looking for, and what you will most likely be asked.  Prepare your accomplishment stories to give examples of your relevant experience and skills, and the contributions you made in your previous work.  They hire you mostly for what you have already accomplished, and not typically on your “abilities”, unless you are being hired for an entry level position.  Better to share the facts about your successful performance record, than to share your opinions about how good of a worker you think you are.

4.  Know How to Get to the Interview and Arrive Early!

Know exactly where the interview is taking place, where to park, and how to get there.  Do some online research with one of the maps sites, and have more than one route in case you hit unexpected traffic.  Leave in plenty of time – better to arrive early than late.  Never show up late without calling (so remember to bring and charge your cell phone) – they will probably be busy when you do get there, and it is a poor demonstration of your professionalism.

5.  Establish Rapport with the Interviewer!

A genuine smile and a firm (not bone crushing) handshake start it off.  Make eye contact, say “hello”, and let the interviewer know that you are glad to be there and looking forward to the discussion.

You don’t need to make meaningless conversation with the interviewer.  If you see pictures of their children, don’t say anything – it is too personal and may make them feel uncomfortable.  If the interviewer asks about your drive, or something else, of course, answer.  Don’t force anything.  It’s very important that you are genuine – the interviewer will sense if you are not.

To be continued … In Part II, I will discuss how to be proactive in the interview.

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