How to Really Prep for an Interview

Most candidates will go through at least 3-4 rounds of interviews to land a job, and you’ll need to prep for each and every one. Below, we discuss the ins and outs, the do’s and don’ts and everything in between.

Continue your research.
You started this process before the phone screen, so pick up where you left off. Return to the company’s website, scour press releases, social media outlets and read what employees have to say on Glassdoor. Is this a publicly traded company? If so, sift through their 10K, 10Q and other public filings. Use LinkedIn and your contact list to tap into a current or former employee of the firm.  You’re looking for information about their mission, history, customer base, challenges, and recent wins.  Anything that helps to show you did your homework.  You’re also looking for a way to answer the question “why are you interested in working for THIS company?”.  Find out who your interviewer is and do your research on them too.  Ask your recruiter for any insights especially relating to the interviewer.

Lock in on your goals and motivation.
Based on your research, does this the organization seem like a good fit? Could your career flourish there? If you’re currently working, lay out your reasons for leaving WITHOUT bashing your current employer. For example, you’ve accomplished what you set out to in your current role.  Be able to verbalize that you’re ready for a new challenge and have the potential to meet that head on with this new role. It’s important to really understand what YOU want from this move.  This is the time to talk to your recruiter. They will have insight into what the company is looking for and how to approach these questions positively.

Know your selling points and make sure they line up with the job posting.
Focus on five characteristics/skills/traits during the interview. Be ready to link each one to your resume so the hiring manager makes the connection. Then, go back and review the job posting and pair your selling points to the job requirements. For example, “I know you’re looking for ____ and you can see from my resume that ____”. Pull specific examples and include DETAILS. Facts, numbers, results and real accomplishments. If the hiring manager asks how you performed in your last job, or obstacles you overcame, you should be ready to tell and sell your story.

Practice your responses to typical interview questions.
Most interviewers follow a similar handbook, but you’ll still want to rehearse your answers to the standard questions, especially behavioral-based questions. They should be clear and concise, using real examples to highlight your experience. The behavioral questions may vary a bit, but you’ll knock them out of the park using the STAR method.

Situation – Share the context and details of the situation.
Task – Describe the role you played and the responsibility you held.
Action – Detail the action you took to overcome the challenge.
Result – Quantify the outcome if at all possible. Point to win.

This step will likely require the most amount of time, but it is absolutely the most important part of your prep. Sketch out your thoughts on paper first, then work them into coherent talking points. THEN, practice aloud. Your thoughts will be more organized, thorough, and effective.  If you want the job, then do this because most people won’t, and it’ll show that you did!

Line up your questions.
Your research should kick in here. Sure, questions like, “What does your ideal candidate look like?” or “What’s the feel of the company culture?” are good to have in your pocket for any interview. But, asking about the impact of a recent acquisition or the entrance of a new competitor in the market shows you’re serious about this role and that you’ve done your homework.

Finally, don’t wait until the last minute to print extra copies of your resume or portfolio. Have one good suit ready at all times so you don’t panic over what to wear. Map the address and the route, confirm parking instructions and building security requirements. Consider a “dry run”, especially if you’re visiting an unfamiliar part of town and consider the time of your interview, too. Remove all guesswork so you can focus on what’s important – ACING this interview!