How to prepare for an interview within 24 hours?

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Also available in audio version: http://www.filedropper.com/speech_2

Sometimes we think that it is okay to put on some good clothes and show up for an interview. After all, I don’t know what questions they are going to ask, so there really is nothing I can prepare for.

That kind of thinking today, will not land you a job. You really have to prepare yourself for an interview.

Let’s start with appearances, as that will be the first impression an interviewer has of you, long before they shake your hand and ask you to sit down. While many businesses today do not require a person to wear a tie and suit, it is still a good idea to wear one, unless the position is for a job on the production line or other line worker position. Even there, it is important not to show up in jeans and a t-shirt. At the very least, come with a clean, long sleeve shirt with a collar. Wear a pair of dress pants along with a sports jacket and a clean pair of shoes.

Make sure your hair is combed, your beard trimmed, (don’t look as though you just came out of the bush after spending the past year there), and you have no visible piercings or tattoos. While some of this may seem like common sense, you would be surprised of the number of people that do not adhere to what is considered business grooming.

Many people randomly look at job postings and apply in hopes of getting an answer. Remember, you do not have to apply for every job you see, only those that interest you. That way, when you get that interview, your attitude will be different than “just going for a job interview”.

As this blog is about interview preparation, let’s assume you have been invited for an interview and you have picked out appropriate attire. You are partway there. It is always good to take one or two extra resumes with you, in case the interviewer did not get one or they forgot to bring it.

Next, you want to research the company you are going to interview with. Today there are plenty of places that you can find information about a company. Before the internet, it was much more difficult to do so, but not impossible. Since we have the internet, we will concentrate on looking up information here. First, look up the name of the company. If they do not have a website, they may be a small start up company in which case you might get in on the ground floor. Find out what products they make or what services they provide.

What do you see as the company’s strengths and weaknesses? Keep that in the back of your mind. When you are being interviewed, this information will be useful when it is your turn to ask questions. If you have no questions, it is generally not looked upon favourably. The interviewer may get the impression that you don’t care about anything but landing the job. That doesn’t give the interviewer a sense that you will become a keen team player.

Now that you have researched the company and found out about the role you will be performing and who the players are (this can be found on LinkedIn or other company directories), it is time to anticipate some questions that may come up. These can be quite different depending on the experience of the interviewer or the type of questions that they may have based on the competencies of the position.

Some simple questions you may wish to anticipate include:

  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • Why did you leave your last position or why are you looking? (This can sometimes be tricky, because if you are downsized from your last position, they may think that your company is cutting all the deadwood. You need to be able to respond to that notion. It is not the case.)
  • What is it about our company that attracted you? (This is where your intel will play a large role.) Your research may indicate that you noticed they were a leader in their field and you want to work with a leading-edge company, or; the company was listed as one of the top 10 employers and you want to be part of an innovative and successful company that values its employees.

Some companies have all their jobs identified with competencies. Using a supervisory position as an example, they may have identified competencies such as:

  • Problem solving
  • Motivation
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Coaching
  • Influencing
  • Negotiating
  • Commitment to excellence

These are just to name a few. Searching online may provide you with information and examples of competencies consistent with the position you are applying for.

Recruiters may want to test you on these competencies. For instance, because you will be in a leadership role with this position, they may ask you to provide an example of coaching others. So, coaching is defined as being able to improve the skills and talents of others by providing constructive feedback. It challenges their abilities and encourages development.

If their questions are based on competencies or performance-based, they may ask you to provide examples of coaching you have done in the past. For example, they may ask you how you provided feedback to an employee about their work performance. What discussions did you have? How was the information received? What were the long-term results?

For a long time, interviewing has not been just about getting to know you or like you. In the past, interviewers were not always as skilled and mostly they hired because there was a need and if they liked you, you were most likely hired. Today, the Human Resources department is far more sophisticated. Research has given them the tools to reduce turnover due to poor hiring decisions.

There are applicants that leave an interview thinking that they did really well. They connected with the interviewer in such a way that they were convinced they got the job, only to find out they didn’t. I have interviewed people that have done really well in terms of experience and fully answering questions. Knowing the person that they would be report to; the conclusion was it wouldn’t be a good fit. It will happen to some during their career. Other things may also be at play. The manager conducting the interview may not be the decision maker; managers are used to a certain style of leadership, and if that doesn’t come across in the interview, you may not be selected. A manager may have a particular type of person in mind; education may be a deciding factor and so on. Don’t fret, because it may have nothing to do with you.

Unsuccessful interviews can be a learning opportunity or it can be demoralizing, causing one to doubt their abilities. If you see this as a negative, take a step back. Evaluate your past successes and bring those to your next interview. Too many people come into an interview desperate for a job. When asked of one applicant why they chose this company, the answer was because it is close to home. Neither approach to an interview is a good idea. Successful candidates enter an interview with confidence that their previous experience and work ethic will make a difference to the organization they are applying to, not wishing that someone will hire them.

Potential employers really want to know that you want to work in their company and that you have done extensive research to conclude this is the only place you are interested in working. (They don’t want to hear how this place is going to expand your horizons). What will you bring to the table? In order to do that, you have to understand why they are hiring.

Which brings up the last item, questions. After the employer has asked all of their questions, it is your turn. Don’t be the person that doesn’t have any questions because the interviewer did such a great job of explaining the role that you have none. From an interviewer’s perspective, you haven’t done your homework

Proper research will get you to ask several questions. “Is this a new position?” “Why did the previous person leave?” “What are your expectations of me in the first three months?” (Then be ready to tell them how you would achieve that and tying it into past performance). “I notice that you have a new CEO, does this mean you are changing direction in how you operated in the past?” “I noticed that your sales have been lagging in the last quarter. Is that due to a down cycle or are there larger issues at play?”

Make up your own questions. Don’t be lazy. Only you will know the questions to ask, based on the flow of the interview and burning questions you have. Finally, you are not only asking questions to impress the interviewer, but you are also asking to evaluate if you want to work for this organization.

Good luck and drop us a line to tell us how you did.

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