Alright, so you’ve submitted your carefully tailored resume, wowed them over the phone, and now you have the golden ticket - a chance to interview in person. Congrats! Now it’s time to make sure you are well prepared so that you can make the best possible impression and get yourself one step closer to a formal offer. Here are my top 4 tips for preparing for the in-person interview:
1. Do your research
Make sure you understand the basics of what the company does and how their business model operates. What is their product or service? How do they deliver it? Who are their customers? What is their purpose?
In many cases, the recruiter will include the interview agenda with a list of who you’ll be speaking to. Don’t be creepy, but make sure you do your homework and research their backgrounds. What is their role? How long have they been with the company? What kind of experience do they have? Do you have anything in common with them that you can use to make a connection or break the ice? Understanding who you’ll be talking to can give you a bit of insight as to what they’ll be looking for from you and the types of questions they might ask. I once spoke to a co-founder without realizing he was a co-founder until halfway through our conversation!
Review the job description so you are clear on what the role is, what the responsibilities are, and what they’re looking for in an ideal candidate. This will help you anticipate questions you might get as well as any concerns the interviewer might have about your experience (or lack of experience); if you can anticipate their concerns, you can be better prepared to address them.
Make sure you confirm all the details before the day of the interview. This includes the address, building number, parking information, who you should ask for when you arrive, the time of the interview, and any other special instructions. The last thing you want to do is call them ten minutes after your interview is supposed to start, asking which building they’re in.
Plan out your clothes at least two days before - this gives you time to make sure you have something to wear that you feel good in, get it dry cleaned if you need to, and make sure it’s ready to go so you’re not up late stressing the night before.
Finally, make sure you schedule your day so you have plenty of time to get to the interview, which means you need to make sure you know how long it would normally take you to get there and add in a few extra minutes for a safety cushion.
Do a final sweep of your resume and make sure you have a printed copy for each person you plan to be interviewing with. If you don’t know how many people you’ll be meeting, a good rule of thumb is to have at least 3 copies you can hand out if you need to.
3. Prepare notes
Think through the skills, experiences, and special knowledge that you want to make sure you get to talk about. These are the things that make you feel most confident and excited about the opportunity. List them in a notebook you can take with you so that you make sure you don’t forget to bring them up when you get a chance to talk about yourself.
You also want to have a list of questions ready for each person you’ll be interviewing with (again, if you have the list). A minimum of three questions for each person to start, and then if you have more you can try to read how the conversation’s going to see if you have time to ask more. Trust me, you do not want to have a brain freeze when they ask you if you have any questions; be prepared!
Yes, in order to get that great job you need to have certain knowledge, skills, and experiences, but the trick to interviewing well is being able to show the hiring team that you, in fact, do have those things. You have to sell what you have to offer, and for most people this is not something we’re used to. It takes practice. My favorite tip is to google “common interview questions” and just run down the lists asking yourself each question and make sure you practice answering them out loud. Make sure you can think through the question and that, if you were asked it in an interview, you have a coherent answer for it. You can’t know the questions you’ll get in advance, but you can practice answering general questions and talking about yourself so it’s not so new once you’re actually there.
And finally, practice your introduction. No doubt someone will say, “so tell me about yourself,” and you need to be ready to tell them what they need to know quickly and succinctly. Don’t share your life story, but do give them enough information so they have some context as to why you’re interviewing with them and how they should steer the conversation. There are tons of great examples online, but rather than just reading the examples, practice talking it through so you find a way that feels comfortable and natural and you don’t sound like you’re reciting from memory.
Ready? Alright, good luck and let me know how it goes!