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Strategies on Preparing for the Interview

Your resume can get your foot in the door, but it’s how you perform in the interview that determines whether or not you’ll get the job offer.  To shine in the interview, you need to prepare, practice & perform exceptionally.  Never go into an interview thinking you can wing it – not in this competitive market.

Most employers who view candidate assessment & selection as an organizational competency will employ a strategic and systematic approach to interviewing.  That’s why competency-based interviewing, behavioral-based interviewing and targeted selection have become the norms for many companies.  Why?  Because these interview models yield a more accurate and objective outcome.  A planned, consistent interview process, where the same questions are asked of all candidates, makes it more difficult for interviewees to fabricate answers and enables a fair comparison of all candidates.  As opposed to non-structured interviews, this systematic process carries a significantly higher validity rate.

If you know that a company incorporates one of these models in its selection process, your need to prepare & practice becomes essential.  You will not be “let off the hook” by being asked questions that can be responded to simply with a “yes” or “no.”  On the contrary, you will be evaluated on the quality of your answer, your delivery [communication style] and your credibility.

Every single question in an interview is just part of the bigger, essential question – “Why should I hire you?”  Interviewers are assessing “can you do the job?”  Do you have the experience and qualifications necessary to perform the job?  Have you done this job or commanded similar responsibilities before?  Was this in a similar situation or environment?  Can you demonstrate how you creatively problem solve and be held accountable for results?    This question attempts to assess your potential to do the job.  It assumes that successful past performance is a predictor of future performance.  That’s why, as you prepare for the interview, one of the most important first steps is to know yourself – your skills, your strengths, your achievements, your weaknesses, your values, your interests, your motivators.

Interviewers are also evaluating if you “will do the job.”  Do you have the interest, energy and motivation to perform effectively?  Can you demonstrate willingness to take on additional responsibilities?  Is it a good match for your skills?  Does this job fit in with your long-term goals and career direction?  From your perspective, you should be asking yourself, “Is this the type of organization where I can thrive, would want to work … and stay?” 

Most importantly, they are assessing whether or notyou’re a fit for the job… and the culture. Can you demonstrate collaboration and teaming skills?  Do your personal values, work ethic, work style and attributes map to those of the company?  Many employment relationships end prematurely when these are not in sync.

How do you learn about an organization’s culture?  It’s difficult.  You really can’t rely on a company’s website or its marketing collateral for this information.  They tell you what they want you to know.  You’re better off conducting research – listening to meetings the company leaders have held with financial analysts, reading blogs, gathering information on company awards, reviewing customer comments, reading employee newsletters, etc.  Informational interviews with current and former employees of the company you’re targeting can also be helpful.  Research LinkedIn profiles on employees.  If possible, go to the main lobby of the company and observe dress, behaviors and interaction of employees.

As you prepare, become intimately familiar with the job description, identify questions you anticipate receiving in the interview and script responses that focus on demonstrating how you meet each requirement.  Use powerful stories to convey fit. Consider creating a personal value proposition that enables you to showcase in the interview the benefits and solutions you bring to the table that your competitors cannot.  This provides you an opportunity to differentiate yourself from others being interviewed in a dramatic and memorable way.

Finally, in addition to doing due diligence in preparing for the interview, make time to practice.  Practice often and aloud.  Time your answers.  They should be under two minutes – preferably no longer than one.  By using good time management skills during the interview, you’ll be able to share maximum information about your skills, achievements & fit for the job and outshine your competitors!

One comment on “Strategies on Preparing for the Interview

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