Before you begin preparing for an interview – a word of caution. If you went through this process easily in the past, don’t expect a repeat performance. Moreover, if you’re still following the advice of gurus like John Crystal and Jeff Allen; don’t. Their advice is obsolete. In 2009 there is a new reality, and unless you are mentally and emotionally prepared for it, you’re in for a rude awakening.
Whether you acknowledge it or not, your interview begins way before you enter the reception area. From the moment it is arranged you must start researching the company, honing your image, and preparing and rehearsing responses that present your value to the company and relevant accomplishments and short vignettes you can use to highlight and relate them to the job you’re interviewing for.
Telephone pre-screening calls are common today and always catch you off guard. Rule #1: If you are not in a position to speak freely, don’t talk; request a callback number. Rule #2: When responding, get to the point and be as brief as possible. Don’t oversell yourself. Rule #3: If asked, “Do you have questions,” say “I do, however I am sure you are busy and we can go over them when we meet.” Rule # 4: End the call by saying, “I know you are looking for value in this hire, and that is what I have to offer. If it fits your schedule, can we continue this conversation in your office tomorrow? I know it will be a mutually beneficial meeting. If that’s not a good time, is there a more convenient day and time for you?” Their response will tell you how much of an impression you made.
Research: Once the interview is arranged, immediately begin your due diligence. This increases your chance of a second interview or job offer. You need to accumulate as much knowledge about the company, their culture, the job you are applying for, their competitors, the industry in general, and the people you will be meeting. This intimate knowledge is critical if you want to impress decision makers. It also helps you build confidence that you are the best person for this job.
Step 1: Start by reviewing the job description in the classified ad or job posting you responded to. Then cross-reference this with what other companies require in a similar position. Print out copies for use in anticipating interview questions and preparing responses. You should then list all core requirements for the position and note your achievements and qualifications for each, as well as stories that highlight them. Then evaluate the required experience and skills you may lack and describe how you intend to overcome them and list related qualities you have that are relevant alternatives.
Step 2: Visit the company website where, among other things, you should find valuable information about products or services, recent changes, competitors, management profiles and clients. Visit the news and press releases pages on the site. Information contained here will be useful to engage and impress interviewers. Take copious notes that will be used in forming responses.
Step 3: Do a general and Google News search of the company. For public companies, research their online stock ticker. Some of you may want to review their annual report, 10K and 10Q filings. Next, do a general and news search of the company’s major competitors and the industry. Remember, information is king, and all this effort will differentiate you from your competition. Some of you may want to pay to do a Hoovers, OneSource or LexisNexis search of the company or have someone you know who subscribes to these service do it for you. Think of this investment as doing a CarFax search before buying a used car.
Step 4: Do a Linked-In, Faceboook and My-Space search for the person you will be interviewing with. If they are listed, it will give you invaluable insight into who they are, how they define themselves, and it may even provide a photo so you know what they look like before the meeting. Next contact people who worked at this company before and send out Linked-In requests for additional information on the company, and the job.
On an interview, just like in school, the more homework and study you do the greater the results will be.
(To be continued)
Perry Newman, CPC, is President/CEO of Fist Impressions Resumes in Brooklyn, and has over 30 years experience as a resume writer, career coach and executive recruiter. If you need help writing your resume, have specific questions for him, or you would like to receive a copy of his e-guide ‘Job Hunting in the 21st Century – The New Reality,’ compliments of the Jewish Press, email pnewman@Jewishpress.com or call 646-894-4101.Perry Newman