Planning for Job Interview Success: Part 1 – Know yourself; know the hiring organization

by Aysha von Buchstab

Your resume is brilliant; it’s a finely-tailored suit that succinctly articulates your value proposition—the skills and experience you possess that the hiring organizations in your field are seeking. So brilliant, in fact, is your resume that you’ve caught the attention of what could be your next employer. And—Congratulations!—you have been invited to an interview.

Now the real work begins. For, while your resume may shine like highly-polished chrome, it is that way because you have had the luxury of countless hours to polish it. The job interview, however, is different: You have a one-hour opportunity to demonstrate to your interviewer that you are, without doubt, the best candidate for the position. One hour to prove you have the skills they need; the experience they need; that you are the perfect fit for their team. One hour in which to build on all the effort you have put into your resume, bringing it to life.

What’s the secret to success at the interview? To put a new spin on some wise words, I don’t know the secret to absolute success; but I know the secret to absolute failure–and that’s to be unprepared. So, to help you prepare, this article will provide some leading practices for planning prior to your interview.

First Things First: You

The first thing to consider when preparing for your interview is yourself: What are you looking for in terms of geographic location? What skills and experience will you bring to the hiring organization; and what would you be gaining from jumping on board? If you are applying for a contract position, what is your preferred duration; how much risk are you prepared to take? If the position is full-time, what are your compensation expectations—consider not just base salary; but bonus, vacation and benefits package. In order to be successful, the fit must be there—you must fit the opportunity; and the opportunity must fit you.

Next, know your resume inside out. Have all pertinent work experiences memorized; and be ready to elaborate on any of them when asked, “So, tell me about yourself.” This question is the trigger for you to sell yourself. Starting with your brand statement, highlight the skills and experience you bring that lie between the lines of text on your resume.

Also, be prepared for situational questions (“Have you ever had a time when…”; “What would you do if…”). Think about how you have handled (or would handle) these scenarios; and prepare responses that are both concise and smooth. Role playing with a friend or family member will help with this.

The Hiring Organization

Next, research the hiring organization: What are its mission and core values? What is the corporate culture? What is the dress code—you may think a suit is appropriate for an interview; however, business casual may be expected (in fact, I recall one organization that openly advertised this fact on the Careers page of its website)? Can you see room for professional growth; and how does the organization support this?

As with all research, the Internet is an excellent source of information. Start with the hiring organization’s website. Memorize its “About us” page—many interviews start off with, “So, what do you know about our organization?” Beyond the corporate website, check what others think: Google the hiring organization, and visit business directories, investment websites and newspapers. Next, check Glassdoor for feedback from people who have worked in many organizations–the organization you are interviewing with may be one of them. LinkedIn and other social media can also be great places to find out about the organization you are interviewing with—you may have a direct or indirect connection in your network that is currently working (or has in the past) within the organization you are preparing to meet with.

Next: Part 2 – Researching the Job & Getting to the Interview successfully.

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