“How Did You Prepare For This Interview?”

If you didn’t prepare at all, this question might just be difficult to answer if not downright impossible. Unless, “I didn’t” is an answer you feel like delivering with confidence. Be ready to have the interviewer lower their first impression of you, end the interview and suggest that in the future you do so to make the most of the opportunity and stop wasting both your time and theirs.

A job interview is a wonderful opportunity to showcase your skills, experience, education and personal suitability as it relates to a job possibility. For you as the candidate, it also represents a great opportunity to sit down face-to-face with at least one person – and perhaps more – from an organization you might be highly interested in working with, and explore in more depth if this organization is one you’d like to spend some time employed for. Why would you pass up the opportunity to do some advanced preparation?

Honestly, there are a few reasons why people fail to prepare in advance for job interviews. I suppose one could be so overly confident that the job is theirs before they even arrive that the time would seem better spent leading up to the job interview. Perhaps you’ve been told the job is yours; the interview merely a formality. If this is the case, you might just be going through the motions, but if someone other than the person you are expecting should conduct the interview, they might be surprised enough at your lack of preparation that they cannot endorse you and surprise, they go with someone else.

Also true, you might not prepare out of ignorance of how to go about preparing. When it’s your first job interview and you’re in your teens, or I suppose you’re well into your 30’s but you’ve never had a true job interview before, you may not know what to research or how to go about it. Very  similar is the person who never having had an interview at all, preparing for one isn’t even something they’ve considered, let alone know how to go about it.

Then there’s the cocky man or woman who figures, “Hey it’s me after all, they’ll be lucky to have me and my natural charm and good looks will win the job.” Oh yes, these types are still out there, and no amount of advice will change their point of view. Be they handsome, gorgeous, sexy or otherwise, they’re counting on their physical assets to give them the edge. Depending on the job and the interviewer, it might even work. Some interviewers are after all, rookies themselves.

Ah but to you. What will you answer if the interviewer should ask you what you did to prepare for the interviewer? Typically in our times you should have made an effort to check out the organization on the net. A webpage visit is an easy and convenient way to start. Look for buttons to click on like, “About Us”, “The Company”, “Contact” or, “Who we are”.

You might also want to ask of the person who invites you to an interview who the interview will be conducted by. Knowing the names of the people ahead of time and their positions gives you people to research via LinkedIn. Not only will you learn about these people, you might see their pictures and feel less intimidated by the unknown as you walk in the room. Certainly look up the organization on LinkedIn at any rate and read!

Any contacts you have at an organization interviewing you are sources to be tapped for information. Inside info of course that you’ll just not get anywhere else. What’s it really like to work there? While a job posting says what you’ll do on the job, where is most of your time spent and find out about the culture, atmosphere and the intangibles too.

You might want to take a dry run out to the site of the upcoming interview to check exactly how long it will take to get there. Maybe pop in and pick up some literature, an annual report, people watch as they come and go. You can pick up a lot of information just watching people such as their clothing styles, whether they have a spring in their step and a smile on their faces or they walk in like their dragging a ball and chain. Locate that washroom near the interview area you might use to freshen up in too.

Another key piece of preparation is a mock interview. Sitting down and going over your answers to some key questions is a good way to build confidence, find and correct any areas of concern and improve your self-confidence. Getting feedback from someone who either works there or who can give you objective feedback is well worth your time.

Do not neglect to come up with a few questions of your own. What do you personally really want to know? What’s important to you? Management style, advancement opportunities, salary and benefits, travel requirements, the chance to collaborate with others? Training incentives?

Just imagine heading in, getting comfortably seated and you realize you really do want this job. After putting you at ease with some small talk, you’re first asked to tell the interview panel a little about yourself and what you did to prepare for the interview. Will you be off to a good start?

The Right Attitude For The Interview

Congratulations! You’ve been offered and accepted a job interview with a company you’re really interested in working with doing a job that you’d sincerely love to do. While it’s taken longer to land this interview than you ever thought it would, you’re grateful for it nonetheless. This is the job interview!

There’s a lot riding on this one isn’t there? It’s your one big chance to show them how great you are and how great you’d be in the position. What to wear? When to leave for the interview so you get there early but not too early? What to research – is there time for more research? And what about – hold on there partner! Slow down. Breathe. Focus.

Sometimes we get over excited about the interview don’t we? I mean it’s one thing to be happy and excited about an upcoming job interview that we really want but it’s quite another to go overboard and see it for what it isn’t too. It isn’t your only shot at a job you’d be great at and love doing that’s going to pay you well. I’m glad it is by the way, but on a broader scale it isn’t the only job of its kind nor is it probably your only shot at this job with this company.

I do understand that in the present moment; at this time, this is your shot however and that’s what you’re understandably focused on. I’m happy for you and I’m here in your corner for you.

Let’s start with some basic information; what we know to be true. First of all, it’s clear that up to this point, you are in the running for the job. You’ve impressed them enough, presumably with your resume at the very least, and you’ve already made it to the short list of applicants beating out those whom applied and didn’t get an interview. If you submitted a cover letter with the resume, it too is a fairly safe bet that (assuming they read it) whatever it contained motivated them enough to want to hear more from you. The two documents together have resulted in the interview. It’s important to recognize this because if you don’t land the job, you’ll want to stick with what’s working when applying for other jobs, and clearly these two did what you hope they’d do for you.

You’re understandably nervous to some degree at the prospect of the interview but more importantly what the interview represents. It represents your chance to be offered the position itself; and attaining the job fulfills a pretty significant goal of yours. You may also be seeing this opportunity as more than doing something you’d love with an employer you’d love to work with. This perhaps could be your chance to start paying down debts with the income it will provide, move in different social circles, prove to other people you’ve rebounded and have made something of yourself, and of course it will take a huge weight off your shoulders and you can shift from job searching to employment.

With all that riding on this job interview,  no wonder you’re feeling the heat! Could I suggest a few things? First, acknowledge to yourself that you’re now down to say 3-6 people from perhaps 75 – 100 who have applied for the job. Your odds of getting hired are actually very good. Sure you’re now competing with just a few others who are feeling the same way, but we’re focused on what’s within your control and that’s you not them. Think positively and let’s own this interview.

Let’s answer some basic questions here well ahead of the interview. Why do you want this job with this employer? The sum of your previous experiences (life and work experiences) has made you the person you are so, why are you right for this job based on your past? This will be a combination of your education, skills, experience, values, personal suitability and the intangibles you bring that are unique to you from the other applicants.

Look at the job posting you initially applied to again. The things you’ll be responsible for and the qualifications they said they are looking for are going to make up the bulk of the interview questions. You need answers that contain specific examples from your past that p r o v e you have the skills and experience you claim to have. Get these together now.

Your attitude? Desperation isn’t attractive; its – well – desperate. I’m pretty much guessing they want someone positive, upbeat, good to be around and have around. Being assertive but not cocky or aggressive is usually on the mark more than it’s not, but your homework into the role might tell you otherwise. Maybe it’s aggressive they want because your income is based 100% on sales? If so, shift your approach to fit. Maybe they want someone low on socializing and more on the, ‘there’s work to be done so let’s get to it’ mentality, so again emphasize your work ethic.

Go  on get excited! You should be! We can celebrate together after the interview when – successful or not – you’ve done your best to shine and given it your best. The ultimate decision is out of your hands but you hope to influence that decision-making process with everything you’ve got. Like an athlete, leave nothing unsaid that you want to communicate.

The right attitude? Communicate “I want this job with your organization; I’m the right person for the position.”


When Is The Job Interview Over?

Before we can talk about when the job interview is over, we need to talk about when it starts. There’s some strong difference of opinion as to both its beginning and end. My position is that it doesn’t begin when you shake the hand of the interview and say, “Hello”, and end when you shake their hand a second time and say, “Goodbye”.

So let’s begin. The start of the interview? Well to me the start of the interview comes the moment you have any interaction with the company of which they become aware. So if you walk in their front door and ask about volunteer opportunities, your employment interview has just begun. You see even if you have no immediate plans to apply for a paid position with that organization, it may well be that you change your mind as you volunteer there in the future and become aware of job postings. It could also be that they eventually discuss an employment opportunity with you without even posting a position.

Your first impression of the company – how you are greeted and treated – is also the organizations first chance to form an opening opinion of you. If you are of the opinion that you can act one way and then a year later suddenly transform yourself into someone else when there is a job posting, you’ll never pull off coming across as genuine. By that point, they’ve formed strong opinions on your punctuality, your level of interest and commitment, your attitude, your ability to work with others, your reliability and your skills. In short, your job interview started a year ago when you first started volunteering.

How am I doing? Have I got you saying to yourself, “Okay sure I get it, but I thought you were talking about the actual job interview.” I am! You see I’ll bet that in that formal sit down interview, you’ll be discussing your performance in your role as a volunteer. You’ll cite examples of your abilities you’ve experienced while volunteering for the organization. So yes, you’ll be bringing in your shared experience as proof of your strong application for the position.

And if you’re not volunteering? You start making an impression on the people who work there right from the first time you identify yourself on the phone with your manners, the words you speak, the tone of your voice, the presence or lack of a sense of humour. If it’s a written application, your cover letter and resume get to the organization ahead of you and will give them all kinds of evidence of how well you write and communicate; your professionalism or lack of it. Your interview has already begun. The face-to-face meeting is a continuation of your interaction, just moving to a different phase.

So when is the interview over? Just like the beginning, I don’t think the face-to-face formal meeting represents anything but a change in the dynamic of the overall application. Most employers tell me that they put a lot of weight on what a person does or doesn’t do after they shake hands and walk out. If they go home and do nothing, they probably aren’t all that committed to really wanting the job. They most likely are applying for other jobs with other organizations. If on the other hand they follow-up with a short note of thanks for the interview, subsequent questions or additional information to support their application, they really want it as demonstrated by their continuing effort. In short, the interview process continues.

Look too at the selection process at its conclusion. One person gets the job and all the others are passed over. Does it end here then? For 9 out of 10 people it does. That 1 other person though? That’s the person who continues to want the job and wants a second chance. They follow-up expressing both their disappointment and their continued interest in the position should it or a similar opening come up.

They also request feedback, suggestions, advice and then act on that advice so they can in a future discussion, explain what they’ve been doing to better position themselves for success by heeding the advice they got in the past. For them you see, the interview isn’t over, it’s still going on.

Do you see the difference in perception? Do you see that there are some who see the interview start and end as a date and time on the calendar. These folks say, “I have a 45 minute interview this Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.”.  Others say, “I started my interview 6 months ago and I’ve been invited to a formal discussion this Tuesday at 10:00a.m. as the next stage in the hiring process.”

Oh and guess what? If you don’t like interviews and think that when you get hired they are thankfully done with – I disagree. The day you shake hands and accept a job offer is the first day of a long process as you are now interviewing for the job you officially apply to down the road as a promotion. In short, every day at work is an ongoing interview.

I hope you zeroed in on that last sentence. If you are headed off to work today you’re being watched, evaluated, judged, gauged and affecting others opinions of you as you build your reputation. You my dear reader are in an interview. Hope you used deodorant before leaving home!