Interview Preparation – A Little Planning Goes a Long Way

By: John Hutchins, Quantix VP of Client Services

Congratulations!  Finally, one of the dozens of resumes you’ve submitted has produced an interview.  I’ve worked with many candidates who land an interview and then try to wing it.  When you finally get an interview, don’t rest on your laurels!  Now the hard work begins.  You have to prepare.

  • Learn about the company. Visit the company’s website to learn about what the company does to make money, the company’s history and any recent information.  Many companies include press releases on their website.  Reading the last few press releases will provide you with both company and industry insight.  And don’t forget to look at the careers section.  The careers section will give you an indication of whether or not the company is growing and job descriptions typically give you a good synopsis on the company from a marketing perspective.
  • Learn about the interviewers. Use LinkedIn.com to research the people who will be interviewing you.  Look for any commonalities between your background and their background, such as previous employers, education, community involvement, etc.
  • Prepare a few questions. Based on your research of the job, company and interviewers, prepare a few questions to show that you’re really interested.  Limit yourself to less than 10 questions, five questions is probably best.  You don’t want to overwhelm them.
  • Review your resume. In writing your resume, you probably reviewed it a hundred times and think you have it memorized.  It never hurts to review it one more time before an interview.  The last thing you want to have happen is for the interviewer to ask you a question regarding something on your resume and for you to act completely mystified.  Refreshing your memory only takes a few minutes.  If your resume lists your attributes or technical skills, make sure you are prepared to answer questions about those attributes or technical skills.  If you say you’re “creative,” be prepared to give an example of your creativity.  If you say you’re a C# expert, be prepared to talk about your experience and be tested on C#.
  • Plan ahead. Map out how you’re going to get to the interview.  Take traffic conditions and parking into consideration.  Give yourself plenty of time to get to the interview.  I recommend arriving 30 minutes early so you don’t feel rushed and have some time before the interview to relax.  Don’t go into the company until about five to 10 minutes before the interview – you don’t want to arrive too early.  Instead, sit in your car or take a quick walk and think about what questions they may ask and what your responses would be.
  • Dress appropriately. If you’re interviewing for a sales position, you should probably wear a suit.  If you’re interviewing for a software development position, you can probably get away with dressing more casually, but still on the conservative side.  More importantly, show up to the interview clean and presentable.  And don’t smoke cigarettes before arriving!  Showing up smelling bad or smelling like smoke is a sure fire way to bomb the interview.

Believe it or not, many candidates fail to follow one or more of these six simple suggestions and then wonder why they weren’t selected for a position.  During the interview process, there are a myriad of things outside of your control.  You might as well control what you can, and these six suggestions are things you can do to stack the deck in your favor.  Good luck with that interview.  I hope you get the job.

Image Credit: http://bsuonline.com

Image Credit: http://bsuonline.com

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