Before the Interview

Two weeks ago I wrote about the Seven Keys to successful interviews.  I’d like to now discuss a little more about what to do prior to the interview.  In my opinion, the pre-interview checklist is as important as the interview itself.  Properly preparing yourself prior to an interview can give you the necessary edge to get the job.

In football, a team spends an entire week preparing for one game.  The players and coaches watch film, design a game plan, and practice, so that they’ll be in top form on game day in order to achieve their goal:  Win the game.  This analogy is similar to how a person should approach the interview.  Remember, the purpose of the interview is to get the job.

1)  Research the company- You need to demonstrate during an interview that you want to work at this company.  One way to do this is to know as much as you can learn about the organization prior to the interview.  I would suggest reading the company’s website and Facebook page.  Also, do an internet search on their company to see what recent articles or stories you can find about them.  I would also make sure you research the specific people you’ll be interviewing with.  Check them out on Linked In to see how long they’ve been with the company and how their roles may have changed.  Finally, try to talk with different people who work at the company.  This can help you learn more about the company that you won’t find online plus can help you start building relationships which could be instrumental in getting the job.

2)  Directions and promptness- Make sure you are clear on where the interview is taking place.  Some companies have more than one building or even multiple locations.  Also, make sure that you’re on time no matter what.  If you arrive extra early, just wait in your car in the parking lot and relax or review your notes, but don’t walk in more than 5-10 minutes before your appointment.

3)  Dress appropriately- Unless an employer specifically requests otherwise, always plan on dressing professionally.  It is perfectly fine for you to feel a little overdressed compared to the interviewer since you’re the one trying to get the job.  Wearing a suit shows effort and respect on your part which demonstrates that you’re taking the process very seriously.  Remember, people like giving jobs to people who want them.

4)  Grooming- Also, please pay attention to grooming and hygiene.  Employers will notice whether you’ve showered, smoke, need a haircut, brushed your teeth, cut your nails, etc.  On the reverse side, be extremely conservative and cautious with makeup, perfume, cologne and jewelry as these all can serve as unnecessary distractions.  Remember they are evaluating whether you’re a good fit for their culture even more than they are looking at your skills.

5)      What to bring- You should have some type of professional folder with you.  This allows you to carry extra copies of your resume and references, as well as have something to write with and take notes on.  For some careers, bringing a laptop or portfolio with examples of your work is also very appropriate.  I would discourage bringing large purses or briefcases as they are unnecessary and awkward for an interview.

Football teams win games because of good preparation plus good execution.  If you couple these tips with the seven keys to successful interviewing, you’ll win more in the job market, too.

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