We can’t emphasize enough the importance of researching the company before you go for the interview. Learn as much as possible about the company’s products, number of employees, locations, financial history, culture, and working environment. You will be able to get a lot of this information from their website. You can also go to your local library and check the various business directories that are available. If you know someone who works for the company, take some time to speak with them about what it is like to work for the firm.
You can never have too much information. Go to the interview informed. Know the names of the people who will be interviewing you, what type of an interview it is (i.e. behavioral, panel, conversational) and what the purpose of the interview is. For example some companies require a minimum of three interviews. The first interview may be with Human Resources (to evaluate soft skills), then an interview with the Hiring Manager (to evaluate technical skills), then the Hiring Managers Manager (for the final stamp of approval and overall fit). Sometimes you may be requested to meet with the team you will be working with, as in a peer to peer interview. Understand the purpose of the interview so that you can target what the interview needs to learn about you.
Plan and write down the questions that you want to ask your interviewer. Take this list of questions with you to the interview and ask them. Remember, an interview is a two way conversation – you are expected to ask questions, usually towards the end of the interview.
Be Prepared with a Plan
Know what impression you want to make, what accomplishments you have made in your career that you think would be applicable to the position, what examples you are going to use to express your accomplishments, how you are going to describe how you and your previous company parted ways, and what your future aspirations are.
Practice and rehearse expressing your accomplishments until you know them so well that you speak about yourself with natural confidence and ease.
- Be sure your appearance is neat, attractive and professional. Pay special attention to your finger nails (ensuring they are clean and well groomed) and your shoes (ensuring they are polished).
- Don’t wear any heavy perfume or cologne the day of the interview or keep it very light.
- Restrain from eating foods seasoned with onions or garlic the day before or the day of the interview.
- Practice and rehearse talking about your accomplishments.
- Arrive 5 to 10 minutes early for the interview.
- Bring an extra copy of your resume just in case you are asked for one.
- Make direct eye contact with your interviewer during conversation. Listen and respond to the questions with interest and enthusiasm. Remember to smile and try to stay relaxed.
- Don’t talk negatively about previous work experiences, employers, or peers.
- Listen, observe and take a few notes if necessary. You can fill in any notes after the interview and use these reminders to build rapport in a thank you letter.
- Try not to oversell yourself. Be confident and at ease. Try to enjoy the interview experience as an exchange of information between two people.
- Ask the interviewer the questions you have prepared. Take notes.
- Send a thank you note within two days of the interview.