Everyone knows that the make or break moment of any endeavor can be traced back to how well you prepared. After all, most marathon winners won’t tell you that they woke up and ran and that’s all there was to it! How prepared you are for your task at hand determines your success rate. It’s why we (hopefully) study for exams or go to practices. In the realm of interviewing, your pre-interview prep is no different!
The science is simple: the more you prepare for your interview, the more comfortable you’ll be when you walk in, and the better you’ll do. Going into an interview blind is equivalent to walking into an exam without even looking at your text-book! Interviews are so much more than just talking about yourself for 30 minutes to an hour. In order to really do well you have to do your research and establish a strategy. It’s why your pre-interview prep is so important!
But have no fear, today I’m walking you through my ultimate pre-interview prep strategy that will have you comfortable and confident when you walk through that company’s doors. Not only that, I have a brand new worksheet for you to jump-start your researching and make it easier than ever to get to know the company you’re interviewing with! Read on down below!
1. Find out as much as you can about the company you’re interviewing with during your pre-interview prep.
And I seriously mean as much as you possibly can. The more that you know about the company that you’re interviewing with, the better prepared you’ll be for any question the interviewer throws at you. This research will also be the basis for the questions you’ll prepare to ask your interviewer (yes, you will also be asking your interviewer questions. We’ll get to that next week!).
You have everything the internet has to offer available at your fingertips wherever and whenever you want. Not only is it unwise to not research the company during your pre-interview prep, it’ll also look unprofessional if you don’t know the answer to a very basic question your interviewer asks you about the company. For instance: when I interviewed for my current job with EY, my interviewer asked me if I knew what the company’s 2020 Vision was. I felt so dumb when I answered that I didn’t and she informed me (politely) that not only were they EY’s publicized business plan for the next three years, but they were also detailed in a poster hanging on the wall right behind me! It’s easily researchable little things like these that can impress your interviewer or leave things to be desired.
[ Read On : How to Build Your Professional Brand ]
Consider researching the following: the company’s headquarters, CEO, industry, future initiatives, values, and charity work. As you’re researching, take physical notes by writing them down in a notebook (or using the free worksheet I’ve included for my readers! More on that below). This way you’ll keep everything that you need for the interview in one place and you’ll be able to look at it before you go in!
2. Do some background research on LinkedIn about your position and interviewer.
As I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, the age of social media has made it beyond easy to do in-depth research about the position for which you’re interviewing. All it takes is a quick LinkedIn search for the location and job title and you’re set! This is absolutely something to take advantage of during your pre-interview prep.
Now that you’ve done your research into the company itself you can start putting your position research into context. Pay attention to what people who have the position you’re interviewing for are saying and sharing! After all, employees will often share news articles that pertain to the work that they’re doing at their firm. I know I have coworkers who share Financial Crimes news all the time. And even better is when they share publications put forth by their company itself, sometimes about their position or office!
But the best way to leverage LinkedIn, or any professional social media, is to do some research on your interviewer. Depending on the company it’s possible to ask your recruiter for the name of your interviewer, meaning you can look them up ahead of time! And suddenly? You have access to their online resume and the information they value sharing to their network. And who knows, maybe they’re sharing information about how to be a successful interviewee!
You can also leverage this information to see what you two may have in common. Did they share that they’ve been loving the same book series as you or the same type of podcasts? You can incorporate this information into you “tell us about yourself” spiel to instantly gain common ground with your interviewer.Leveraging LinkedIn to learn more about your interviewer during your pre-interview prep gives you the opportunity to establish instant rapport if you know you have something in common! #interviewing #careeradvice Click To Tweet
3. Brainstorm some high-level questions to ask the interviewer based on the research that you did.
In this respect, “high level question” is just a fancy way of saying “generalized questions about the company.” But here’s the catch: what you ask the interviewer should not be something you can simply google to find the answer. These questions should be more involved than that and based off of the research that you’ve already done. Remember: you’re not just looking to get more information about the company, you’re also looking to demonstrate what you’ve researched during your pre-interview prep!
[ Read On : How to Rock Your Campus Career Fair ]
Here are some examples of questions that I would use in my own interviews:
- How does your local office engage in corporate social responsibility (aka giving back to the community)?
- How do you see your [company’s value] practiced in the day to day functioning of your office?
- When you were interviewing to join the company, what was one thing that you learned that made this company stand out to you? What was the defining characteristic that helped you make your decision?
Now, you don’t need to ask only high level questions and I encourage you to write down any questions that you may want answered about the company, the position you’re interviewing for, the office/company culture, etc., that you come up with as you’re researching. Have a master list of these questions in your padfolio with space for the answers. You won’t get to ask all of these questions during your interview, and some may be answered as you speak with your interviewer, but this way as you progress through the interview process you’ll never have to come up with something off the top of your head!
4. Pinpoint the main takeaways you want your interviewer to leave with.
With any conversation you have you want the other person to leave completely understanding the point you made. An interview is no different! But with an interview, you’re not attempting to communicate an argument. Instead, you’re selling yourself and your skills, and the interviewer should leave wanting to buy.
Are you an extremely hard worker? An adept communicator? A quick learner with a passion for mastering information? A leader who is willing to take on responsibility? Regardless of what attribute you want to get across, you need to make sure that your interviewer remembers that about you when you walk out of that room. You want your name on your resume to be synonymous in their minds to your interview and key points.
This is why it’s vital to plan your main takeaways during your pre-interview prep! Imagine it like writing a story or taking a test. You can’t include nuanced symbolism and metaphors if you’re coming up with the plot as you write. And you can’t ace that exam if you didn’t study for it!
And once you’ve nailed down your main takeaways, the final step of your pre-interview prep is to . . .You can't include nuanced symbolism in a story if you're writing the plot as you go. You also can't effectively illustrate your strengths & skills in an interview if you don't prepare your takeaways beforehand! #interviewing Click To Tweet
5. Know your talking points!
Those takeaways you just came up with? Absolutely solid! But now it’s time to take it a step further and come up with examples to illustrate your points. Is there something specific on your resume that you know you’re going to want to point out to your interviewer? That you know will set you apart from the other candidates, perfectly exemplify your takeaways, and that makes you look like a total bad ass? Then rehearse talking about it and theorize under what circumstances you could bring it up!
I know this may sound silly, but you want to make sure you drive home every example that you bring up and every point that you make, and that means being able to talk articulately and concisely about your experiences and accomplishments. You won’t have the same impact if you ramble through example after example for one question as you would with one solid story that perfectly illustrates what the interviewer asks. Make sure, however, that you’re comfortable giving examples from a variety of your experiences (on-campus job, extracurriculars, class projects/discussions, etc) instead of just one. This will ensure that you demonstrate what you’ve learned from all of your experiences.
I know it may be tempting to skip this pre-interview prep step, but trust me, don’t. The more comfortable you are with your talking points and examples, the stronger your interview, and the more likely you are to get hired. Remember: your interview is verbal! And how much more enjoyable will it be if you can easily describe your examples instead of blanking or rambling through? Trust me, your interviewer will thank you for your preparedness!
6. Use all the resources available to you during your pre-interview prep!
And I’m not just talking Google, Bing (if you’re that person), LinkedIn, or other types of social media. If you’re still at school, don’t forget to visit your career resource center on campus! They often have amazing pre-interview prep resources available to you for free. My CRC at UF even offered to run through mock interviews to give first-time interviewees exposure to the process! And the majority of the time these resources are vastly underutilized, so make sure to take advantage!
And if you’re not longer in school, have no fear! I’ve created a ton of amazing freebies for my readers to make preparing for your interview and the interview process itself a breeze. And everything will be uploaded to my resource library as well so that you can have access to it any time you want!
This week I’ve added a Company Research Worksheet to organize your background research in one convenient place! This worksheet will guide you on what to look up for all of the major topics listed above. The worksheet is organized in question-answer format, meaning that you’ll be able to Google your answers with ease to make getting to Step 2 that much faster!
Want to grab your own copy? Make sure to sign up below!
Are you or a friend struggling with any pre-interview prep of your own? Let me know down below, and make sure to share this with your friends who are on the job hunt!