Considering today’s not very robust employment market, it is important when seeking a position to prepare well before going to the interview. Individuals who think they can “wing it” will not likely shine during the interview as it is very competitive out there! The key is to get noticed and be remembered as someone who will be valuable to the organization.
Here is why the preparation is so key, of course, many people without the proper credentials and requirements will apply and will likely be summarily rejected. However, many applicants will have similar educational backgrounds and similar previous work experience. So how are you going to “stand out from the crowd” so that you can earn a second, or if necessary, a third interview, and have a much better chance at actually getting that desired position?
Here are some tips to consider:
- Be sure to do your homework regarding the company….how long have they been in business, what sort of culture is espoused, what sort of dress code is acceptable, how long do employees tend to stay, etc. If possible, you may want to speak to some people who work there to find out the answers to those questions. Often interviewers ask what you know about their organization and what attracted you to the job. You can usually find out most of this information by visiting the company website. However, if you can speak with current employees you may find out some “inside” information that could be helpful and again make you more memorable.
- Prepare to answer the most commonly asked interview questions. Such as……“tell me a little about yourself”, what are your weaknesses, why do you want to work here, where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? You may even be asked how you would resolve a situation that could arise, to see if you can think on your feet and problem solve appropriately. Preparing a 90-second “infomercial” that highlights a couple of skills that you perhaps did not include or elaborate upon in your resume which could be essential to this position and would be excellent to include. Try to pick a “weakness” that you have addressed and how you have improved upon it. You could also offer some reasons why you feel this company would be a good fit for your skills set. Just do your best to come up with something plausible and appropriate.
- Prepare some of your own questions. Ask them at the end of the interview to show that you have an interest in their organization, how it runs, their aims and core values. This demonstrates thoughtful consideration, as well as good preparation for the interview. Sometimes some of what you wish to learn may be answered during the conversation, however, if not, you are certainly entitled to ask some questions before the interview ends.
- Be able to demonstrate your soft skills. Are you a good team player, do you have excellent communication skills, are you able to solve problems effectively, can you self-manage well, how do you deal with stress, are you a self-starter? These core competencies in the soft skills realm will make you both an attractive and valuable addition to their organization and in many cases will help you to “stand out” from others who may not have those skills. You can also demonstrate this by including items in your resume that show what you have accomplished in past positions that exemplify leadership, organizational skills, and other inter and intrapersonal abilities. Soft skills are a great asset and make a person a valuable addition to any organization.
- Be sure to thank the interviewer/s. You, of course, will do this as you leave, however, sending an appreciative note following the interview, thanking them for their time, can never hurt your chances for a second interview, especially if you are VERY interested in the position. In addition, if you are interested, saying so is also a good idea and adding why you think you are a good fit and why you would like to be there could be enlightening to the interviewer/s as well.
Remember……..you only get one chance to make a first impression so be sure to smile, shake hands, and look the interviewer/s in the eye when you meet. That first impression is formed in the first few seconds of a first meeting!