Tips To Help You Prepare For Your Next Interview
It’s exciting to get called for an interview. After you hang up the phone, the question then becomes, “What do I do now?” It is an important experience. We naturally feel like we should do something; but what? All too often candidates will go into an interview without having properly prepared for the exercise. It is natural to think about the job and why we want it, but what is going to set one candidate apart over another? There are number of steps candidates will want to take to prepare for an interview in order to make a meaningful impression.
Schedule some time to think back and reflect on your career. It is surprisingly hard to remember all the good we have done in past jobs without taking this step. Spend time thinking about, and writing down, major accomplishments and projects you have been part of. The flip side is to reflect on the things that did not go well. Right or wrong, we often learn more from our failures than we do our successes. While it may be difficult to admit our shortcomings in an interview setting, responding in a positive way to a setback is a characteristic employers find valuable.
You will probably want to take the time to write this historical information down so you can study it. Doing so will help you paint a better picture about your experiences and what you bring to the table.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
When preparing for an interview, think about the process from the manager’s perspective. Ask yourself why you are interested in that particular position. If you can’t be enthusiastic about the prospect of getting this new job, it’s going to be apparent to the hiring manager. If you were in their shoes, how would you feel about your candidacy, and what would make it better?
Will this change constitute taking a step forward, sideways or backward? Careers tend to have a natural upward progression, but that does not always have to be the case. Some people want to deliberately take a step back from being a manager, or they want to branch out into a new field. Oftentimes candidates have to sell hiring managers on their motivation.
Ask for Help
Avoid letting shyness or pride get in the way of you being prepared for an interview. Seek out guidance from a trusted mentor or colleague. Consider reaching out to someone you trust within the industry to discuss your candidacy. Get their feedback on your strengths and weaknesses as they relate to this next job. Perhaps they can ask you some interview questions to give you some practice.
People outside the industry can also be helpful. In fact, their outside perspective can be valuable, especially if they have managed people and know you well. These types of resources may help you understand yourself better and assist you in seeing things from a manager’s perspective.
Do as much research as you can leading up to the interview. You will want to know about the organization and this particular role. This can include a lot of areas, but a few that are almost always relevant are the leadership, culture, strategy and the company’s position in the market, just to name a few. Keep in mind that the culture inside an organization is sometimes different than the perceived culture to outsiders. The key here is to make sure that you are a good fit for them, and vice versa. A turnaround project is a different environment than an organization that is experiencing long-term success atop a market line. Along the same lines, organizations have reputations. There is value in understanding the outsiders’ view, but you may find that on the inside of a company, the reality can be quite different. Be informed going into the interview, but keep an open mind and trust your gut when you get inside.
The more you find out about an employer, oftentimes, the more questions come up. Write down what you are curious about so you can have a thoughtful conversation with your interviewers when the time is right.
Preparing as the Internal Candidate
Interviews also take place within organizations, in many instances with people we know and work with. Any time there is a promotional opportunity or the chance to take a transfer for new experience, an interview may be necessary. One of the biggest mistakes candidates make in these situations is not preparing. Too many people think “it’s just a formality” or they do not prepare the same because they already work there. This is a huge mistake. When seeking that internal opportunity, you should be approaching it with the same preparation and enthusiasm as if you were an unknown entity off the street.
Being a current employee can absolutely be an advantage. You may have knowledge about the inner workings, the people you would be working with or why the position is available. This information has to be used to prepare and create a plan for how you would assume this new role.
Have fun with the process!
Most recruitments are competitive and there are almost always good candidates that miss out on a job. That is the unfortunate side of things. At the very least, always use these types of situations as learning experiences and try to have a relaxing conversation with your interviewers.
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