Acing the interview process
How to effectively prepare for, manage and follow up an
Congratulations; your hard work has paid off, and you have
secured an interview. The interview is extremely critical given
employers and recruiters use your presentation to make their final
decision. Despite the growing discomfort in today’s job market,
this remains true.
Preparing for the Interview
Enter an interview armed with a wealth of information on the
company. When this is coupled with a solid understanding of how you
can make a valuable contribution, you are automatically put at the
front of the pack. Here are a few methods to ensure you stand out
from the competition:
- Fully exhaust the Internet when researching the company’s
reputation, financial status and recent developments. Reach out to
your professional network for anyone who may have the inside scoop,
and review annual reports and industry trade magazines to get all
- Review your resume again and familiarize yourself with the key
points that you want to get across during the interview. It is very
beneficial to create your mini career success stories ahead of time
– make sure that you choose examples that demonstrate how your
qualifications are the right fit with the company’s needs.
- Practice and rehearse your responses to standard interview
questions like, “Tell me about yourself,” “Describe your top
accomplishments” and “Why should we hire you?”
- Conduct a dress rehearsal to make sure that your suit or
business attire fits right; check your portfolio to make sure you
have additional copies of your resume, and consider doing a road
trip to the interview location ahead of time to assess commuting
Managing the Interview Process
Throughout your face-to-face interview process, you want to make
sure that you are consistently promoting yourself as the solution.
Clearly define your personal brand, unique value proposition and
concise success stories in the Challenge-Action-Results format. Not
sure where to start? Follow the steps below.
- Limit your responses to about 2—3 minutes, and practice your
presentation with a trusted colleague in order to minimize your
level of nervous talk or rambling.
- Listen carefully to the interviewer’s questions, statements and
comments to get a deeper understanding of the company and whether
its corporate environment is the right fit for you. Remember it
needs to be a two-way match.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat a question for
clarity, and take your time giving the correct response.
- Make sure that you ask specific questions about the company and
the position requirements before forming an opinion. Lean towards
enhancing your career, not simply getting a job. Questions that you
should consider include: “Is this a new position or am I replacing
someone?” “How would you describe the work environment?” ”What are
the growth or promotional opportunities?” and “Tell me about your
experience with the company.”
- Always ask the interviewer about the next steps – you should
always walk away from an interview with clear expectations.
After the Interview
It seems like a simple, common-sense gesture, but so many job
seekers overlook a thank-you note or e-mail sent within 48 hours of
the interview. (Only five percent of executive job candidates
actually say thanks.) A highly effective thank-you note should
mention highlights of the interview conversation and reiterate your
interest in the position. Here are some pointers:
- Do more than say “thank you;” use the follow-up letter to
address any questions that you feel you didn’t answer well during
the interview. If you may have neglected mentioning any critical
additional information in the interview, use the card to relay your
- Evaluate your own interview performance. Consider questions
like ”What were your feelings going into the interview?” ”Were you
uncomfortable during the process?” ”Was this interview easier or
harder compared to your last one?” and ”What would you do
differently in the next interview?”
Keep your job search going and accept other job interviews along
the way. You should never cease your job search activities until
you have been offered a position and you have accepted. No matter
how well the interview went, never take that as a sign to slow down
your overall job search efforts.
Abby Locke is an executive career marketing strategist who partners with senior-level professionals and C-level executives to achieve personal success through cutting-edge, brand-focused career communications and innovative personal marketing/job search services.
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