Recently, an opportunity was opened in my company 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 I will give come from my experience as an interviewee, interviewer, and from advice I have received from some of my very successful mentors.
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 simply the “next step” or is it completely aligned with where you want to go? Do you know where you want to go? Do you have a plan?
One of the great things about getting an interview is that it really gives you the boost you need to research who you are and why you want this job.
Take a career / life mind mapping exercise, take half an hour to an hour to brainstorm and really think about your future. Perform a personal SWOT analysis. What are the strengths you are bringing to the table, what are those weaknesses that you should be well aware of? How do those align with this potential position? If you are really ambitious, take a 360-degree assessment and take the time to ask your peers for feedback, this is a good excuse to ask some of your peers how you are 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: Get to know the job
Do all you can to understand what this role is about. Depending on your situation, this can certainly be a challenge. 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 find out as much as you can.
I suggest that you start by locating the people who work in or around the position you are looking for. If you know who is the previous person who held the position or a similar one in the same group, talk to her. Call them on the phone or better yet sit down and argue over lunch. Data collection is essential. Does this position have clients? 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 entirely 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 the information that you have been gathering over time 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 must have a relevant plan for you and the contribution you can make to the team. If you discovered through your data collection effort that the team you will be working with is beginning to develop agile development, you may want your plan to include helping the team become familiar with the mythologies of agile development. If you are applying for a management or director position, your plan should be the Vision you see for the area / team that you will lead. Making the plan is simple and easy to remember.
Step 4: Practice
You know yourself, work and 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 difficult to answer. By taking the time to find and answer questions, you will get the practice you need to answer with confidence. You may also come across some questions that you haven’t thought about yet, it’s always better to be surprised by your own research than 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 it’s relevant to what you’ll do if you get the position.
Also, think about questions that you will ask your interviewers. By having thoughtful questions, the interviewer will know that you have done your homework. Some suggestions to help ask questions is to think in various categories such as: Strategic, Expectations, Challenges, and Long / Short Term Needs.
Step 5: smash the interview
If you’ve followed the 4 steps above, it’s time to go in and smash that interview. It is highly unlikely that your competition did what you just did. You have done your homework well and are now ready for this opportunity. It is also very important that you dress for the occasion.
Once the interview is over, don’t forget to send an email or thank you email depending on the environment.
Also understand that there can be many reasons why you may not receive an offer, but by taking these steps you will know that you have done your best. That alone is worth the time it takes to prepare. If you don’t get the position, learn from what you may not have done well. Call the hiring manager or see if you can get a follow-up interview. This goes a long way and will leave an impact on that person that could help you later down the road.