Investing in an Interview
It continues to surprise me when I receive emails from people I have either not heard from for months, or have never heard from before at all, that go something like this:
“I have an interview with XYZ Company tomorrow. Do you have any tips?”
Many thoughts go through my mind when I read an email like this, but to keep from losing some readers at this point, I’ll focus on the more helpful things I can offer, so that you don’t end up being one of those people with a last minute request of this nature.
1. Know the organization. First of all, if you are only applying to posted roles on Craigslist or Indeed without researching companies ahead of time to be better aware of what is a fit for you, then you have put yourself at a disadvantage. It means you have to act quickly to get attention (within 24 hours), and, you have little time to get in touch with people to learn more before a call from the employer is expected. To avoid being caught in this predicament, it is critical to have researched your industry and targeted companies so you are already familiar with them. The best circumstance could be that you are alerted by an insider before the position is posted. Keeping in regular communication with contacts inside of companies you have targeted provides a resource for information to help you prepare for the interview you are hoping to get one day, and it also will help you determine if the organization is really a fit for you.
2. Tailor your resume to fit. When you take the time to tailor your resume to exactly meet the needs of a position, you are accomplishing two things. The first is that you are more likely to get a response, and the second is that you have already mentally prepared yourself for the interview. Sending a vague or generic resume only means you have to answer more questions about your background at some point, and it is typically harder to think of the answers under the duress of an interview. If some of the basic information is already included in the resume, then the questions asked during a first interview ultimately move to something of a more significant nature. A first interview can turn into more of what happens at a 2nd interview, simply by eliminating the usual general information gathering questions like:. “How much was your budget? How many people did you supervise? “, etc. Instead, the questions may move into how you did things, which allows you to connect at a deeper level, sooner.
3. Get your act together in advance! I think the reason those last minute requests annoy me so much is because I know there are hours of work to do to prepare for an interview. The night before is not the time to begin. Any time you are looking for work and sending out resumes, the intention has to be to get a response. (Aren’t you anticipating being called in for an interview??) Interviews will typically include many of the same questions, which means you can prepare your answers for many questions in advance.
4. Make sure you know who you are meeting with. Interviewing on the fly rarely produces the results you would get if you know more about the organization, their needs and the people you are interviewing with in advance. Even with the use of LinkedIn, trying to learn as much as you can with short notice is not typically effective.
5. Plan time for following up. It is important to thank interviewers after your meeting. This may be in the form of an email, a card or a letter. Whichever is appropriate for your industry or role, it is still necessary to plan the time to do this within 24 hours of the interview. Missing this opportunity to show you are courteous, have listened, and are interested may make the difference between you or someone else receiving an offer if all else is equal.
6. Get your priorities straight. If you need to go to work, then it is necessary to do all that it takes to achieve your goal. This means planning ahead and scheduling time to do all that is necessary before the call for an interview comes in.
Have you experienced different results from your interviewing experiences with preparation? If so, please share.