Now that a company has expressed interest in your background and desires to set up a meeting, it is time to prepare for the interview. There is a direct correlation between your level of preparation and your success in the interview.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
The main priority is to thoroughly know your prospective employer. If the company is a publicly held, the Securities and Exchange Commission requires volumes of information to be made available for public consumption. The internet is also tremendous asset for gathering information, in addition to industry directories, industry publications, and industry-specific reference books.
Once you are familiar with the public presentation of the company, the next step is to gather information from your network concerning the local operation and management personnel who will be conducting the interview. You can gain valuable insight from your peers regarding the specific strengths and weaknesses of the organization, which is useful for discussing your abilities that address those areas during the interview.
If a search firm is representing you, make sure you are adequately prepared by the search consultant for the interview. They represent both the company and you, and they are privy to valuable information regarding the position, the company, and the hiring manager. If the consultant does not volunteer this information, ask probing questions which will provide the answers you need to be confident in the interview.
TYPES OF INTERVIEWS
Proper preparation prior to your interview includes finding out how it will be structured and conducted. Here are several different types of interviews you may find yourself in.
The most common interview format is one interviewer speaking with one candidate. Develop a rapport with the interviewer by trying to determine their key desires for the person who will fill this position.
- Team/Board interview with two or more persons
The key here is good eye-to-eye contact with the person who asks you the question. But remember to look periodically at the other persons present to include them in your answer.
- Structured interview
All candidates are asked the same questions for the employer’s ease in evaluating applicants. At the end of the interview when they ask if you have any questions or anything to add, if there is important information that you have not conveyed, that is the time to present your additional qualifications. Usually the interviewer will make written notes of your answers.
- Unstructured interview
You have a better opportunity to convey information as there is no set agenda for interview questions. However, you need to be well prepared and know the points you want to make, as you may need to direct the interview in order to get your desired results.
- Telephone interview
Because of the high cost of paying for candidates’ travel expenses to the employer’s location, many initial interviews are conducted over the phone. All points about good interview skills still apply; you just don’t need to dress for the occasion. Think of telephone interviews like open-book tests. Keep your resume, notes, specific experiences, references, and your list of questions in front of you. Have a pen and paper available to note any comments or questions that may come up during the interview.
If the call comes when you are not ready for an interview, ask the interviewer if they are able to call back in 15 minutes or at another time which will be mutually convenient. It’s important to refresh your memory on the organization and the points about yourself you want to convey.
- Computer interview
Because of the number of qualified applicants available for positions, you may find that your first interview will be with a computer. The purpose of this screening is to compare your answers to the information on your resume. Be just as diligent with your answers as you would with a human interviewer. You don’t want the computer to find reasons to screen you out.
- Video conferencing
Webcam technology allows companies to interview more candidates from farther afield than is possible through personal visits. This greatly reduces the cost of initial interviews with nationwide searches. Use the same strategies for clothing, body language, and dialogue as if you were meeting in person. Your agenda is to be offered an invitation to meet personally for a second interview at the company.
- Second interview – office visit
Except for short-term positions, a candidate being seriously considered by a prospective employer will be invited to visit the organization at one of its locations. One purpose is to provide you with an opportunity to meet other staff. The second is to give more people an opportunity to interview you in greater depth and contribute their opinions about your candidacy. The visit can take an entire day, sometimes more. When an organization offers to pay your expenses to travel to the interview, be prudent in submitting costs. Your choice of moderate rather than luxurious accommodation, food, transportation, etc. will reflect your good judgment.
Once you have completed your research on the company and personnel and understand how the interview will be structured, you can begin practicing for the interview itself with these helpful tips.