Recently, an opportunity opened up in my company that aligned with my career plans. I applied for the position and got through the interview process. This article will look at how I prepared for this particular interview. The job interview tips that I will provide come from my experience as an interviewee, interviewer, and from advice I have received from some very successful mentors of mine.
Step 1: Know yourself
When preparing for an interview, it is imperative that you get to know yourself. How does this potential job align with your values and priorities? What are the reasons you are trying to get this job? Is it just the ‘next step’ or does it fully align with where you want to go? Do you know where you want to go? Do you have a plan?
One of the good things about getting an interview is that it really gives you the push you need to investigate who you are and why you want this job.
Do a career/life mind mapping exercise, spend half an hour to an hour brainstorming and really thinking about your future. Do a personal SWOT analysis. What are the strengths that you are bringing to the table, what are those weaknesses that you need to be well aware of? How do they align with this potential position? If you’re really ambitious, take a 360-degree evaluation and spend time asking your peers for feedback, this is a good excuse for you to ask some of your colleagues how you’re doing.
Once you’ve spent that time evaluating yourself, compare the data to the position. Is this position a good fit for you and your future employer?
Step 2: Know the job
Do everything you can to understand what this role is about. Depending on your situation, this can certainly be challenging. If the job you want is internal to the company you already work for, this gives you some advantage, but even if you don’t discover as much as you can.
I suggest you start by tracking down the people who work in or near the position you’re looking for. If you know who the previous person who held the position or similar in the same group is, talk to them. Call them on the phone or, better yet, sit down and talk over lunch. Data collection is crucial. Does this stall have customers? Talk to them if possible, find out if they see any gaps, this will help you formulate a plan that you can then articulate to your interviewers.
The amount of time you spend collecting data is completely up to you. Remember that the more you know, the better your chances of answering questions and coming up with a good plan.
Step 3: Know your plan
Now is the time to take all that information you’ve spent time collecting and come up with a plan. Depending on the type of job you are trying to get, this could mean different things. For example, if you are applying for a software engineering position, you should have a plan relevant to you and the contribution you can make to the team. If you discovered through your data collection effort that the team you’ll be working with is just getting started with agile development, you may want to include helping the team become familiar with agile development mythologies in your plan. If you are applying for a manager or director position, your plan should be the Vision you see for the area/team you will lead. Keep the plan simple and easy to remember.
Step 4: Practice
You know yourself, the job, and you have a plan. Now you just need to practice. Do a quick search on the most frequently asked behavioral questions. Take time to answer these questions out loud. At this point, you’ve spent a fair amount of time preparing, so these questions shouldn’t be hard to answer. Spending time finding and answering questions will give you the practice you need to answer with confidence. You may also find some questions you haven’t thought of yet, it’s always better to be surprised by your own research than by the interviewer.
If you are interviewing for a technical position, you need to know the area in which you will be working. Brush up on your technical skills, but make sure they’re relevant to what you’ll be doing if you get the job.
Also, think about the questions you will ask your interviewers. By having thoughtful questions, the interviewer will know that you have done your homework. Some suggestions to help formulate questions are to think in various categories such as: Strategic, Expectations, Challenges and Long/Short Term Needs.
Step 5 – Crush the Interview
If you’ve followed the 4 steps above, it’s time to go in and crush that interview. It is highly unlikely that your competition has done what you just did. You have done your homework well and now you are ready for this opportunity. It is also very important that you dress for the occasion.
Once the interview is over, do not forget to send an email or thank you mail depending on the environment.
Also understand that there can be many reasons why you are not getting an offer, but by taking these steps, you know that you have done everything you could have done. For that alone it is worth the time it takes to prepare it. If you don’t get the job, learn from what you may not have done well. Call the hiring manager or see if you can get a follow-up interview. This is very helpful and will leave an impact on that person that could help them further down the road.