Early preparation will change the outcome of your next job interview
Waiting until a couple of days or the night before to prepare for an important interview is too late. Generic answers to interview questions may have helped you do well in the past. But they won’t make the impact you need to make to be competitive in today’s market. Most people have less time, listen less, and are more preoccupied. So, these issues make grasping the interviewer’s attention much harder to do.
Clarity about what you need to focus on before you begin an interview allows you to respond more specifically to questions. Take the time to thoughtfully prepare. The results will make you a sharp stand out.
Researching a company early on will set you up for success.
The investment made in preparation will ultimately pay off in you moving forward with an opportunity that is a good fit, instead of coming in as the runner-up. The following steps will help put you ahead of the competition.
Fully vet the company and your fit with it. This means conducting online research and talking with people who work there. Do you really know how they operate/communicate/deliver? Unless you’re clear about what’s “acceptable” behavior or the company’s expected outcomes, your responses may sound the same as all the other candidates. There’s a wealth of information available online to give you clues about an organization’s operations and culture. People in your network can introduce you to people who can provide insight into accurate information and expose what’s only great marketing. Researching a company early on and knowing how you fit will set you up for success.
Script your answers. Don’t expect to think of pertinent examples of your experience on the fly. You have to understand the company’s business model and adapt your experience to their needs. You’ll be much more successful driving a point home. It’s difficult for anyone to have exactly the right words in a stressful situation. (That’s why people use speechwriters and publicists to tell their stories.) Don’t expect to sound super brilliant without crafting your answers in advance. Ensure you’re saying precisely what you intend for them to hear.
Practicing allows you to pivot when a question is posed differently.
Practice. It’s common for people to pick a few questions to practice and use the answers across the board with any organization. You may have been on the receiving end during a previous interview. The person’s story may have sounded like “la la la la la” to you because none of the information applied to you. Practicing involves more than saying rote statements over and over. It requires thinking through your audience’s scenario and editing your story to ensure your intent resonates every time. Subsequently, practicing allows you to pivot when a question is posed differently. You’ll have wrapped your head around examples that can be used to demonstrate different points. Practicing in advance and paying close attention to the interviewer’s questions, will help ensure you’re using the best examples for each scenario. You’ll be able to thoroughly hit the mark by providing the right information.
Know how to read between the lines. A literal answer to some questions can take things off course. Make sure you know what your audience is really searching for before you launch on a path that takes things off course. An employer may ask: “What are your salary expectations?” This question is to determine if your expectations fit within their budget. Responding with a number outside of their budget can easily remove you from consideration. Instead of responding with a literal answer, you can ask: “Please tell me your range.” Their range will help tell you if your expectations are reasonable. Or, if they insist that you tell them first, you can provide a salary range that’s broad enough to keep their attention. Having advanced awareness of the organization’s business needs will allow you to confirm/dismiss any assumptions during the interview.
Prepare thoughtful questions. Express an interest in them and what they need. Asking questions that only appear to express your interest in “What’s in it for me?” is less attractive to an audience than asking questions about “What’s in it for them?” So, your questions should be all about them. Such as, questions about the people you’ll be working with, the team’s current challenges, their departmental goals for the upcoming few months, or company initiatives expected in the next year. In addition to capturing their attention, you’ll learn more about what you are stepping into.
Researching the organization and the players will help you zero in on the information about your skills, experience, knowledge, or products that will resonate most strongly with your audience. Having conversations with employees and conducting in-depth research takes time and effort. Carefully considering appropriate questions and answers requires more time than a last-minute swipe. Take the time to think carefully about your process and give yourself your best shot by preparing in advance.