Recently an opportunity which aligned with my career plans opened up at my company. I submitted for the position and made it to the interview process. This article will take a look at how I went about preparing for this particular interview. The job interview tips I will provide comes from my experience as an interviewee, an interviewer and from the advice I have received from some very successful mentors of mine.
Step 1: Know Yourself
When preparing for an interview it is imperative that you know yourself. How does this potential job align with your values and priorities? What are the reasons you are trying to get this job, is it simply just the ‘next step’ or does this completely align with where you want to go. Do you know where you want to go? Do you have a plan?
One of the nice things about getting an interview is that this really gives you the kick you need to investigate who you are and why you want this job.
Perform a Career/Life mind mapping exercise, spend the half-hour to an hour brainstorming and really thinking about your future. Perform a personal SWOT analysis. What are the strengths you are bringing to the table, what are those weaknesses that you need to be well aware of? How do those align with this potential position? If you are really ambitious perform a 360 degree evaluation and spend time asking your peers for feedback, this is a good excuse for you to ask some of your colleagues how you are doing.
Once you have spent that time evaluating yourself, compare the data with the position. Is this position a good fit for you and your future employer?
Step 2: Know the Job
Do as much as you can to understand what this role is about. Depending on your situation this can most certainly be challenge. If the job you want is internal to the company you already work for, this gives you some advantage but even if it doesn’t find out as much as you can.
I would suggest you start by tracking down the people who work in or around the position you are seeking. If you know who the previous person is who had the position or a similar one in the same group, talk to them. Call them on the phone or better yet sit down and discuss over lunch. Data gathering is crucial. Does this position have customers? Talk to them if possible, find out if they see any gaps, this will help you formulate a plan that you will then be able to articulate to your interviewers.
How much time you spend gathering data is entirely up to you. Remember the more you know, the better your chances are to answer questions and come up with a good plan.
Step 3: Know Your Plan
Now it is time to take all that information you have spent the time gathering and come up with a plan. Depending on the type of job you are trying to get this could mean different things. For example if you are applying for a software engineering position, you should have a plan relevant to yourself and the contribution you can bring to the team. If you found through your data collection effort that the team you will be working with is just getting into agile development, you may want your plan to include helping the team become familiar with agile development mythologies. If you are applying for a management or director position, your plan should be the Vision you see for the area/team you will be leading. Make the plan is simple and easy to remember.
Step 4: Practice
You know yourself, the job and have a plan. Now you just need to practice. Do a quick search on commonly asked behavioral questions. Spend time answering these questions out loud. At this point you have spent a good amount of time preparing so these questions should not be hard to answer. By spending time finding and answering questions, this will give you the practice you need to confidently answer. You may also find some questions you haven’t thought of yet, it is always better to be surprised from your own research rather than the interviewer.
If you are interviewing for a technical position, you need to know the area you will be working in. Brush up on your technical skills, but make sure it is relevant to what you will be doing if you receive the position.
In addition, think of questions you will ask your interviewers. By having well thought out questions, the interviewer will know you have done your homework. Some suggestions to help come up with questions is to think of various categories such as: Strategic, Expectations, Challenges, and Long/Short term needs.
Step 5: Crush The Interview
If you have followed all 4 previous steps, it is time to get in there and Crush that interview. It is highly unlikely your competition has done what you have just done. You have thoroughly done your homework and are now prepared for this opportunity. It is also very important that you dress for the occasion.
Once the interview is over, do not forget to send a thank you email or mail depending on the environment.
Understand also there may be many reasons for you not receiving an offer but by performing these steps you know you have done everything you could have. That alone is well worth the time it takes to prepare. If you do not receive the position, learn from what you may have not done well. Call up the hiring manager or see if you can get a follow up interview. This goes a long way and will leave an impact on that person which could help you later down the road.