One of the recurring themes we hear from our recruiters is their surprise at the lack of preparation that job seekers display when interviewing for a position. Frankly, we find it stunning and nearly incomprehensible when an individual seeking a job won’t commit at least a full eight hours to preparing for an interview that will gain them $40,000, $50,000, $75,000 or more.
At the relatively low end of the salary spectrum, spending a complete eight hours on interview preparation can yield an annual salary of $40,000. That’s $5000 for every hour spent reviewing your resume, researching the company, gathering information about the individual conducting the interview, practicing your interview answers and formulating relevant questions to ask yourself.
Yet a recent survey revealed that more than half of the job seekers queried spent less than two hours preparing for their interview. Pretty shocking, considering the potential reward for the well prepared candidate.
At a minimum, we suggest that interview candidates do the following:
- Review your own resume. Make sure that you are intimately familiar with every date, title and responsibility. You’d think this step would go without saying, but candidates frequently go weeks or months without rereading their own resume and trip up on specifics that can raise flags with the interviewer.
- Go through the company’s entire website. Read their press releases to learn about their latest initiatives, new hires and any potential legal issues they might be facing. If they’re a public company, read their annual report. Go through their entire product section to familiarize yourself with their entire line of products and/or services. If they sell online, go through the entire buying process until you have to actually submit payment. Understand completely what kind of user experience they deliver.
- Find out who their competitors are. Visit and read their websites to understand how each company positions itself and to determine what cultural elements are clearly communicated.
- Locate an industry trade publication online and read several issues. These publications typically provide in-depth analysis of issues confronting the entire industry, industry trends and they frequently reveal which companies are regarded as the most influential.
- If the industry is large enough to attract public companies, try to find analyst reports that detail financial trends and outlooks.
- Find a list of the 50 most frequently asked interview questions. Read them all. Practice your responses so you don’t have to stop and ponder why this company should hire you. Know the value that you bring to the company.
- Practice your interview responses some more. In front of a camera. In front of other people. Ask for feedback, incorporate it into your answers and practice again.
- Create a portfolio of your work. Examples of writing, analysis and creative production that can support your claims of personal excellence. Do you know how many other applicants will bring samples of their work? Typically, none. Do you want to stand apart from the crowd of engineers/analysts/accountants? Show your work.
- Drive to the interview site a day or two ahead of the interview. I can’t count the number of candidates who were certain they knew where the building was until they drove to their imagined site and discovered that the interview address was actually miles away.
- Create a list of topical, insightful and revealing questions. Once again, too many candidates leave the interview without asking any in-depth questions and reveal themselves to be unprepared or shallow. If you need help, Google Questions to Ask at a Job Interview.
Now you’re ready to handle any question, respond with an insightful and measured response, display your personal mastery and land that job. That was worth eight hours of work, wasn’t it?