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Interview Preparation – A Little Planning Goes a Long Way

13 December 2016

Congratulations! Finally, one of the dozens of applications you’ve submitted has produced an interview. Now is not the time to sit back and try to wing it during the interview. When you finally get an interview, don’t rest on your laurels! Now, the hard work begins. You have to prepare.

Learn about the company

Visit the company’s website to learn about what the company does to make money, the company’s history, the mission and vision statements and any recent information. Many companies include press releases on their website. Reading the last few press releases will provide you with both company and industry insight. And don’t forget to look at the careers section. The careers section will give you an indication of whether or not the company is growing. Also, job descriptions typically give you a good synopsis on the company from a marketing perspective.

Learn about the interviewers

Use LinkedIn.com to research the people who will be interviewing you. Look for any commonalities between your background and their background, such as previous employers, education, community involvement, etc. Knowing about the individuals will help to focus on the people rather than mechanics of an interview.

Prepare a few questions

Based on your research of the job, company and interviewers, prepare a few questions both to show that you’re interested and to determine if the company will be a fit for you. Limit yourself to less than 10 questions; five questions is probably best. You don’t want to overwhelm them.

Review your application

This should include your resume, cover letter, portfolio, and online profiles. In preparing your application, you probably customized it to for this opportunity and reviewed it a hundred times. You think you have it memorized but it never hurts to review it one more time before an interview. The last thing you want to have happen is for the interviewer to ask you a question regarding something on your application and for you to act completely mystified. Refreshing your memory only takes a few minutes.

If you listed your attributes or technical skills, make sure you are prepared to answer questions about those attributes or technical skills. If you say you’re “creative,” be prepared to give an example of your creativity. If you say you’re a C# expert, be prepared to talk about your experience and be tested on C#.

Plan your pre-interview time

Prepare a plan and be ready to deviate from the plan as conditions change. Map out how you’re going to get to the interview. Take traffic conditions and parking into consideration. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the interview. Arriving 30 minutes early will keep you from feeling rushed, and you will have some time before the interview to relax. Don’t go into the company until about five to 10 minutes before the interview – you don’t want to arrive too early. Instead, sit in your car or take a quick walk and think about what questions they may ask and what your responses would be.

Dress appropriately

Agile companies can often have a casual atmosphere. Use your research to gauge the culture and environment of the organization. Then, select clothing that reflects that work environment. More importantly, show up to the interview clean and presentable. And don’t smoke cigarettes before arriving.  Showing up smelling bad or smelling like smoke is a sure fire way to bomb the interview.

Believe it or not, many candidates fail to follow one or more of these six simple suggestions and then wonder why they weren’t selected for a position. During the interview process, there are many things outside of your control. You might as well control what you can, and these six suggestions are things you can do to stack the deck in your favor.


Good luck with that interview.

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