If you fail to prepare for your next job interview, you will likely fail to get the job offer. Interview preparation is important regardless of the position, but it becomes increasingly important for jobs in senior management and executive-level roles.
But believe it or not, it happens far more often than you’d expect. Some of the most qualified job applicants end up being thoroughly disappointing during the job interview. Despite all their education, training and experience, they sometimes fail to demonstrate why they are best suited for the job and can fail to communicate what contributions or value they’d add to the team or organization if offered the job.
We all get it. The interview and hiring process can be daunting—even anxiety inducing—for job candidates. It can also be daunting for hiring managers and recruiters as well, and (in both instances) a lot of time, money and emotional investment might be at stake. But these interview anxieties and tensions can be alleviated with proper homework. Preparation and research can do more than just help you have a good interview. The most successful job candidates start putting in the work long before the interview, and they go through a process that incorporates these ten aspects for preparation.
How to prepare for your next job interview.
- Research the company/organization thoroughly. Review any and all available reports; i.e., strategy, financial, company performance, reputation, future outlook, past, current and future challenges. Use industry journals, the company website(s), corresponding websites, news organizations and so forth.
- Be deliberate about finding out where the company has been, where they are currently and where they want to go.
- Try to get a feel for the culture. This is hard to do until you are actually on the inside, but you can garner some basics such as formality, friendliness, structure and so forth via the website and, even better, social media.
- Learn all you can about the leadership team and, specifically, the person whom you would be reporting to. Check out bio pages, social media (especially LinkedIn), and read blogs to see if any of these people are writing about things/topics that you should know about. Finding relevant connections between you and your interviewer(s) is critical. You might find something worth mentioning during the interview or in your subsequent thank-you letter.
- Get a copy of the position description. You might already have the job posting, but you want to get your hands, eyes and mind around that position description, if possible, so you can better prepare.
- Prepare a comprehensive portfolio packet for each member on the interview panel. Include things such as your cover letter, resume or curriculum vitae, a list of directly related trainings/workshops/seminars/certifications that you have completed beyond what is already listed on your resume/CV. You could also add in any relevant work product and writing samples.
- Learn the names and titles of everyone who will be interviewing you. Not only is the person you would be reporting important to research, but check out everyone who might/will impact the hiring decision (include all the panel members and the chair of the search committee or firm). Knowledge is power, and you might learn little tidbits of info that you can subtly use to make a connection. Find out what is important to these people so that you can find alignment and bridge gaps between them and you.
- Determine what to wear. If possible, check out what the current executives and senior managers who work at the company are wearing. Your image should align closely with theirs or be one step above. You can be a little bit unorthodox, but not too much.
- Read this article by Glassdoor to learn more useful tips for how to interview for a senior-level job.
- Prepare—in advance—some really good questions to ask your interviewer(s) during the job interview. Here are The 5 Best Interview Questions Candidates Ask During Job Interviews.
Preparation will set you apart during the job interview!
When a job candidate combines really good interview preparation with strategic thinking, he or she can knock it out of the park and actually lock down that job offer! But first, you really do need to dedicate some time to your success by first doing your homework.
You should conduct research and evaluate the position description, the company and the culture to the extent possible. You should do some research on the specific individual (or individuals) who will be interviewing you. Learn all you can about what he or she is interested in. Gain some insights on the interviewer’s leadership philosophy if you can, and contemplate which aspects of the job might be of most interest to this person or individuals so that you can best anticipate what kinds of questions might come your way and how to steer the conversation towards a direction that would most interest your interviewer.
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