The biggest difference between good and bad interviews is how much preparation was done. The more research you put in before going to the interview, the better your chances are of having a great interview. You have three goals for an interview:
Demonstrate that you are really interested in working for the company;
- Show that you are a good fit for the position and that you can contribute to the company;
- Get an offer or, more likely, get invited back for the next round of interviews. If you take care of numbers 1 and 2, number 3 will happen by itself.
How To Prepare
There are three parts to preparing for a job interview:
- Learn about the company and industry – as you are doing this, keep an eye out for areas where you can contribute, have unique expertise or special experience
- Study their website and remember to look at the Press section and read their press releases
- Search for recent articles and postings about them
- Lookup the person or people who will be interviewing you, if you can get their names ahead of time
- Research the key people in the company so you know who they are, what they do and a little about their backgrounds
- Find out who their competitors are and research what they are doing
- Get some background on the industry. For example, if you are applying for a programming job at a financial services company, do some research on the financial industry, learn some of the common terms they use and find out what most common applications are
- Understand how your role fits into the company and what they are doing
- Figure out how your background and experience fit and compliment what the company is working on
- Know and be able to explain how you personally can contribute to the company’s goals and success. This is possible no matter what position you are applying for. For example, suppose you are applying for the job of receptionist. If you’ve done things in the past like been a cheerleader, a greeter at Walmart, done standup comedy, or been a waitperson, you can show that any of those experiences have taught you how to relate to people, how to bring a cheery attitude to your work, how to handle stressful situations, and so on – all of which make you a terrific first contact for people with the company, so that people will feel welcomed and start off with a great impression.
Here are a few things to look for in yourself when you are preparing:
- Expertise in an area that is critical to the company
- Knowledge of something that would help them against the competition
- Experience in doing something that they are now undertaking or are about to start
- Contacts/connections with key people in an area that they are working on
- and any other experience or knowledge you have that the company does not have or needs more of
You show how you can contribute by focusing on the value and benefits you provide. Take your experience, knowledge, and abilities and translate them into advantages your prospective employer gets by hiring you. Then you can easily show how your qualifications match up with the employer’s interests and benefits him. This is one of the most effective things you can to have a successful interview.
Something that sets people apart when they are being interviewed is looking interested and engaged in what the company is doing. Doing research into the company beforehand and knowing what their business is gives you something to talk about. A great way to look interested is to be interested and to really listen to what the interviewer is saying. That means not thinking about what you are going to say next. When you are thinking about what you are going to say, you are not connecting with the interviewer, you may miss what he is saying or asking, and it is always obvious that you are not really listening. You don’t have to worry about what to say, if you stay relaxed and pay attention, the right words will come.
Here are a few more tips for a successful interview:
1. Maintain good posture
3. Be yourself
4. Be honest – this is really important, don’t exaggerate or invent things
5. Practice interviewing with a colleague or friend beforehand