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You just heard from the recruiter that you’re going to meet the hiring manager.  The opportunity and company sound exciting and a great fit for your background and prior experience.  This is the step that will launch you to the next level in your career….. “My skills match this job description perfectly!  I have this! Can’t wait to go in and show them what I’ve got!”

I’m frequently asked about how to prepare for an interview it’s a great topic that I don’t think enough job seekers spend enough time on.  Most people don’t interview but a few times in their career and therefore generally don’t get very polished in the process.  The key to success is preparation.

Your first step in preparing, is to research the company thoroughly that you’re interviewing with.  The second step is to research each person on the Interview team and the third step is to prepare yourself for the upcoming interview such that you showcase the best of what you offer to the company.

Step One

Start by going to the company’s website this may sound obvious but frequently applicants don’t go through every page and read back current news blog post add leadership team. If the company has videos demonstrating what their products or services do watch them think about questions that you have as you’re watching and reading the content from the website.  Write them down so you don’t forget them, you’ll use them in Step 3.  If the company is public, read their last 10-Q (you can find them here ).  If the company is private, spend time going through their social media postings and see what is important to them.   What portions of their business are they promoting most heavily?  Where is their focus when looking at new customer acquisition?  Write down more questions.

Step Two

You have the list of people that you’ll be meeting in your interview.  Now it’s time to do a little homework.  Get on to LinkedIn and look up the background of each person they’re going to be meeting with.  Do you have any common connections?  Are those common connections good references for you?  Write them down.   You want to mention those common connections casually when meet that person in the interview.  “I noticed on LinkedIn that we both know Elizabeth Jones, she would be a good reference for me if you are in touch.”  You should make a call to her yourself to get some insight about your interviewer prior to your meeting.

Step Three

Prepare your list of questions and organize them by interviewer.  Your questions should be aligned to the level and roll of each interviewer.  If you’re meeting a senior executive as part of your interview team you want to ask forward-looking questions about the company’s direction and goals over the mid to long term.  During the interview make sure that you tie some of your experience back to those goals and cite examples of where you have done things like that in the past.  As you move down the food chain of responsibility with other interviewers, your questions should become more tactical.  You should be thinking prior to the interview about projects that you have worked on in your past that align to likely needs of the new company.  Have three examples prepared so you can ask which of your past projects might be most relevant to discuss in the interview.

Your outcome will be significantly improved in your interviewing if you go through these basic steps and take time to prepare.  Some basic preparation pre-interview will pay long-term dividends in your career.  Good luck on your next interview!

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