Helpful advice for improving your interview performance.
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Do your own research before your interview.
We will give you background information on the employer and the opportunity. But you will be more comfortable, and your retention of that information will be greater, if you do your own research. You need to have a good background on the company (or division) that you may be working for, as well as a little bit about their competition, and basic knowledge of the position, to be best prepared to answer questions from your interviewers.
Company websites are great resources, but there are others- check industry trade publication websites for press releases, advertising and articles of interest. Read up on market conditions. If you find something negative, our general suggestion is don’t bring it up on the first interview. Wait until the employer has expressed greater interest in you, and you are dealing with more detailed Q&A in subsequent interviews.
When your conversation first starts (by phone or in person)- Review the Company.
If the prospective employer does not tell you this, ask for their overview of the company and the department. Do this right after you acknowledge (and commit to memory!) the interviewer’s name, and hopefully before he or she can ask the first substantive question of you. If they ask if you have already researched them, say yes, but you would like to hear their explanation in addition to what you’ve already learned on your own.
The second question- Review the Position.
If they don’t volunteer the information, ask them to review the position you are interviewing for, including title and high level responsibilities. Listen carefully as to how your interviewer frames their answers, and states the position goals and priorities, as you want to answer to these during the course of the conversation with them. This will greatly improve your odds of having a great interview.
The third question- How Do I Solve Your Challenge?
Ask the employer what the real pressing issues are that this position needs to address. This immediately says you are interested in solving their problems. If you can get these issues uncovered before the employer takes control, you will be off to a great start. You will have gained valuable insights that should help you present your skills in the best light.
Remember, as long as the employer is talking and you are intently listening, YOU SOUND SMART, AND ARE GETTING SMARTER. Remember to do these steps with each person in the interview process, as they will each have different answers to your questions, and you always want to speak to each person’s point of view.
- Do your research
- Get an overview of the company & department
- Get an outline of the position
- Identify pressing issues- position yourself to be the answer
Note: Sometimes the first three questions can’t be asked in the beginning, but ask them and get the answers as soon as you can, before you go too far into the interview. It is much easier to hit the target if you know what the target looks like!