Interview Preparation

An interview is a unique situation designed to assess whether you can do the job at hand, whether you will spring into action once on the job, and whether you fit with the company’s culture and leadership team. It’s in your best interest to stick to the basics, no matter how experienced you are. Remember the best prepared candidate gets the job, your strategy is to get to the next step in the process.

Take the time to read and study this material and develop an interview strategy. You should anticipate what questions you will be asked and craft quality answers. Remember, it is not always the most qualified person who gets the job – it is often the one who is best prepared.

Remember how this opportunity meets all of your goals and desires, make sure that this opportunity meets what you want. Most of the time it isn’t only about money, but also about work/life balance, challenge, or the opportunity to advance. Think about why you want to leave your current job… maybe it is for a better opportunity or something that you don’t like about your current job. Everything you say should be a reason why you should get hired and should address the hot buttons of the job requirements.

Preparation

  • Research the company that you are interviewing with, using their website, a google search, and additional sources if necessary for financial statements. Find the names of key directors and executives, and brush up on recent press releases. You will probably have ample opportunity to mention these key pieces of information during the interview. The impression will be that you are well prepared and “in the know.”
  • Prepare a minimum of 8-10 questions, type them out with space under each question to write your answers, and bring along this sheet for reference. When you are asked what questions you have, you’ll be ready to go. Remember, an interview is also an opportunity for you to evaluate the company. Read on for sample questions.
  • It’s always wise to expect a fairly detailed resume and background review – you will probably want to make mental notes on motivations for leaving and joining various companies. Always stress the positives of the various opportunities that you have pursued, even if you left others under less than ideal circumstances.
  • Be prepared to discuss your successes and failures. Weaknesses should be disguised as a success i.e. I think I am too much of a team player, if I was more selfish with my time I may have progressed further in my career, but I think helping others is so important.
  • As silly as it may sound (and feel), practicing the interview pays dividends. Role-play the critical parts with someone at home, or at the mirror to polish the key elements that you want to deliver.

The Interview

  • Always dress for success, not business casual, even if they tell you not to wear a suit. First impression is key, have a firm handshake and make eye contact. Have a big smile, show confidence and say, “I just wanted to thank you so much for meeting me”.
  • The interview itself may be a casual conversation or a more rigorous series of questions and answers. We will do our best to prepare you for the hiring authority’s style, but you should be ready for anything. For any question a factual response isn’t enough. You have to engage the interviewer with stories that make the facts compelling.  Stick to the STAR model to avoid too much detail and digression:

S: What was the Situation or challenge you faced?
T: What Task or goal were you working toward?
A:  What Actions did you take to address the situation?
R:  What were the Results or outcomes of your action?

  • Finally, don’t think of yourself as an applicant for the job for which you’re interviewing. You’re a unique solution to the company’s business problems. Think of what you have achieved in terms of what you have created and/or saved your company in previous roles. Thinking of yourself as a solution will give you confidence in your ability to help the company meet its strategic goals, and your confidence will resonate with the hiring manager during the interview. Thinking of yourself as a solution will also help you define your role in the new company.
  • Be assumptive in your approach i.e. “What would you have me focus on in my first 30 days on the job?” Don’t refer to the successful candidate as anyone or anything other than YOURSELF.
  • If you’re unsure how to answer a question, take time to reflect on it or ask a clarifying question to give yourself more time to form an answer.
  • Do not criticize or bad mouth your old job, period. In this case, it pays to be a diplomat.
  • Do not discuss salary until you get an offer. Your strategy is to get to the next stage so you might say “Salary is not the most important thing I am looking for, the most important thing for me is the right opportunity” and then list their hot buttons.
  • An interview is one of the only times you get to talk about how great you are. Don’t be shy or modest, it is not the time for it!
  • Before you complete the interview, be sure to leave a positive impression by thanking them for their time, expressing confidence in your ability to do the job, and interest in speaking with them further.
  • Express your interest, for example you may say “I am really interested, seems like a great company and I’d like to take this to the next step”. Send a follow up note, a letter or email is acceptable.