If I didn’t follow the interview preparation tips below, I’d likely be waking up every morning going to some dead-end job making less than $40k a year.
You know why we’re all unsure and restless before an interview?
BECAUSE WE DID NOT PREPARE FOR THE INTERVIEW – THE RIGHT WAY
Most people don’t realize there is a right way to get ready for the big day. They’re busy looking at the company’s Twitter feed, memorizing answers to the most common interview questions asked, polishing their shoes. Oh, they’re busy, but they’re still not preparing for the interview the right way.
Have good eye contact! Bring copies of your resume! Research the people who are interviewing you! Remember to send a thank you note! These are all good pointers, but not the kind of interview preparation that will make you stand out among the other candidates.
I’m going to be direct because finding a job now days is hard for the rest of us and INTERVIEWS ARE SCARRY. And they’re more frightening when you didn’t graduate from an ivy league school, weren’t highly referred from an internal employee, or when your dad isn’t good friends with the CEO. The good news is this: you can still stand out among other candidates when you properly prepare for the interview (said in my horrible British accent). And the right way to prepare comes down to doing a few things very well. Read these tips. Study them. Immerse yourself in them. And on the big day, you’ll walk into your interview like a Rockstar ready to shine.
Control Your Emotions
When America raced to send the first man into space they trained the astronauts in one skill more than any other – the art of not panicking. When people panic they make mistakes. They deviate from the plan and stop thinking clearly. When something goes wrong, most of us trade in our plan for a good emotional freak out. At 150 miles above earth in a spaceship smaller than a VW, this is death. Panic is suicide. So, the panic has to be trained out.
Before the first launch, Nasa recreated the fateful day for the astronauts over and over. Step by step. Hundreds of times. From what they’d have for breakfast to the ride to the airfield. Slowly through a series of repeated exposures, the astronauts were introduced every sight and sound of the experience of them firing into space. They did it so many times that it became as natural and familiar as breathing. They’d practice all the way through holding nothing back but the liftoff itself. Making sure to solve for every variable and remove all uncertainty. And on thebig day, John Glenn the first astronaut to orbit the earth, spent nearly a day in space still keeping his heart beat under 100 beats per minute. That’s a man not simply sitting at the controls, but in control of his emotions. A man who had practiced for the situation.
But you, when asked a question that you didn’t expect to hear, your heart is liable to burst out of your chest. Beads of sweat may even start to form on the crown of your head. So how do we stay cool like an astronaut?
Don’t just think about how you’ll answer certain questions. Practice looking in the mirror and answering them out loud.
Do this again. And again. And again. Over and over until it becomes second nature. As you prepare for the interview by analyzing the job description, consider what the company is seeking in a candidate. Spend time thinking about what skills, knowledge, and professional qualities are critical for success in the role. Once you have a list of these items, find out how you can incorporate them into the answers you’ll give for the 10 most common interview questions—but don’t prepare for the interview by writing out your entire answer to these questions. Instead, write down a few notes or bullet points on notecards that will resonate with your interviewers the most. And don’t forget about the numbers. Some of your answers should include percentages, increases, quotas, and revenue – numbers that hiring managers want to hear. Then, rehearse saying them over and over. Read them while you are at the gym in between sets or on the stair climber. Read them while you are walking your dog. Read them while you are making your blue apron meal. Repeat them like Rihanna echoes the word umbrella. And you’ll be as cool as John Glenn was 100 miles above earth.
Bring a Portfolio to the Interview
It’s great to bring a reference list, extra copies of your resume, and a notepad, but its darn right impressive when you bring a portfolio of your work. A portfolio of your work (5-7 slides) allows you to impress the interviewers on a dimension that cannot be as affectively conveyed through your resume or words. Showing a portfolio in an interview helps provide greater context for illustrating examples of projects you’ve worked on, accomplishments, and skills you bring to the table. When you use the portfolio technique, you maximize the effectiveness of the interview by demonstrating your abilities. AND it makes you stand out from anyone else applying for that job which improves your odds of receiving a job offer. For me personally, without bringing a portfolio to an interview, I feel I have a 20-30% chance of receiving a job offer. But when I bring a portfolio to an interview, my chances of getting a job offer increase 11 billion times.
Use the Company’s Product
Yes, its helpful to spend some time learning everything about the company by reviewing their website, LinkedIn page, press articles, and asking senior Google about them. But you should always use their product or service before your first interview. If hired for the role, your mission will be to create value for the people who use that service or product. So being a user yourself is the first step to gaining real insight about the company’s product. If you cannot use their product (for example the company provides offshore drilling services), you can still go through the process of inquiring about being a vendor or customer by submitting a lead form on their website or calling their phone number. By doing this, you get a sense of the company’s personality and may even see areas of opportunity.
Be Ready to be Interviewed while Dining
When I was interviewing for my current position, I was invited to lunch. Of course I had the option of continuing the interview in one of the conference rooms, but why turn down a free meal right?
If you’re applying for a senior level role, you may be asked to have a lunch interviewer which a good thing because it signals you are a leading candidate for the role. Taking you to lunch or dinner provides the interviewer with an opportunity to see your interpersonal and communication skills as well as your manners. Career expert Alison Doyle has provided a good list of tips of interviewing while dining that you should check out if your interview will be conducted in a more casual environment.
A few other interview preparation tips that your mom already told you:
- Prepare a few smart questions to ask. Half of your questions should be thoughtful ones you jotted down during the interview as you’ve learned more details about the challenges in the role.
- Research the people who will be interviewing you. Review their LinkedIn pages (noting any connections you may have in common). The goal is to gain any insight about your interviewer’s background and interests so that it will be easier to establish rapport.
- Just as you write a personal cover letter to the hiring manager explaining what value you could bring to the organization, follow up with a thank you note reiterating why you want the job, what your qualifications are, and how you might make a significant contribution.
- Dry clean your interview suit before the big day. Shine your Ferragamo’s and make sure your fingernails look manicured. People notice the small stuff.
Interviews can be scary, but it’s much harder landing them.
If you’re sending out resumes and applying to jobs, but not getting as many interviews as you’d like, I recommend you apply the strategies I used that helped me get two job offers in 30 days.
In my ‘Find a New Job in 30 Days Challenge’ free email series, I reveal 10 easy job hunting tips to help you stand out from all the other candidates applying for the same role.
Brace yourself because in it, I’ve included some of my best job search and interview strategies such as:
- How to make sure your cover letter gets to the right person. This is normal protocol (like brushing your teeth before bed or drinking wine with breakfast. Wink)
- Get rid of your objective statement. Objective statements focus on what you want from your career, rather than how you can meet the employer’s needs.
- Use a resume keyword tool to see if your resume passes the job tracking application software. JEAH.
You can get access to more secret job hunting strategies and make finding a job easy. Start the free email job hunting strategy course today.
About the Author
Eric Melchor – career coach for the rest of us. I study how people get ahead in their careers and endeavors. I look at the strategies and psychology of people I admire and use myself as a guinea pig to test new ways of learning and growing.