Do you have an interview coming up? Are you gearing up to begin your job search again? Are you nervous about presenting your best possible self? If the answer to any of these questions is yes then take a few minutes to read these quick interview tips.
1) Research the company and be prepared to share what you find interesting and attractive about the company. You have probably heard this before, but it truly is one of the best pieces of advice. Go to the company website and spend time looking at it. Be able to speak to both the company as a whole as well as the position itself. I cannot tell you how many times an interview has started out “Tell me what you know about our company” or “What made you apply for this role with our company specifically?”
In addition to the company website, researching the company on sites such as Indeed and Glassdoor will give you some insight into how things operate, company culture and challenges and perks of working for the company. It can provide you with information you might not explicitly hear from your interviewer and/or will help you to read between the lines when they speak of company culture, communication, and employee satisfaction. Find out as much as you can about the company’s interview process and style of interview. Remember: the interview process is just as much about you finding the right company as it is about a company finding the right person.
All of this research will only help you to present yourself in a genuine manner and to decide if this is the company for you!
2) Know the role you are applying for inside and out. I find it helpful to review the job description and draw parallels to my own experience, whether those comparisons involve my current job responsibilities or skills acquired in a previous role. It is helpful to specifically draw the parallel while interviewing and not just in your head! For example, if asked, “What do you think will be the most challenging part of this role?” you can respond by identifying a responsibility from the job description for which you aren’t directly responsible in your current position but are involved with so you are familiar with the process.
While you don’t need to be able to draw a direct connection, the idea is to show that the skills and experience you have will serve you and the company well in your new role.
Identify a couple of responsibilities of the role that you can ask the interviewer to elaborate on. Often this naturally happens; as part of the process, the interviewer will review key responsibilities of the position. Take this is an opportunity for you to respond with references to your own work experience and how they relate to these responsibilities. Just nodding and allowing the conversation to continue without drawing on your own experience will leave the interviewer wondering if you fully understand or are capable of handling the role.
3) Ask questions about the interviewer, the company and the job. In addition to showing your interest and preparation, this helps the interview to flow more naturally. This is the time to ask questions about the position and work environment in order to gain a better understanding of the company and day-to-day. (It is best to save financial or benefit-related questions until you receive an offer.) I find it helpful to ask the interviewer what they like most and least about their job and where they see themselves in five years’ time. This gives you insight into the company’s structure, employee satisfaction and company culture depending upon how talkative the interviewer is. Asking about the next steps in the process is always a good way to show your continued interest as well, especially if the interview is difficult or sensitive in any way.
Oftentimes an initial interview is conducted over the phone either with a member of the HR team or with a member of the team you will be working on. There are advantages to having a phone interview rather than an in-person interview. For example, with a phone interview, you can take notes and have your own written thoughts prepared for the interview. I always have a sheet handy of a couple situational examples of leadership, project management, successes and failures. Make sure you are in a quiet space with a strong phone signal.
Dress appropriately; typically, this means business professional. If you own a suit, wear it. If you don’t, don’t sweat it–just dress in the most professional manner possible! Be sure to arrive a few minutes early and leave plenty of travel time. In the event, you are running late call them to let them know. Upon your arrival, a firm handshake is a must. Remember to make eye contact and to smile when appropriate. Have a few copies of your resume on hand, and don’t be afraid to bring along a short list of notes and questions prepared to jog your memory. I like to make a short, bulleted list of items I don’t want to forget to mention. If I have any specific questions I want to be answered from my research, I also list these on this page. It is not a script or multiple pages of notes, but just a few things to jog my memory–much less than if I were phone interviewing.
The last piece of advice is on a more personal note. If you don’t get the next interview or the position, ask for feedback. Consider the interviewer’s comments, but do not let them drive you mad or upset you too much. If you get feedback that is superficial, then move on and count your blessings. I heard back once that I wasn’t dressed professionally enough. I had worn a black suit with flat black dress shoes, a blouse and my hair in a bun. All I know is that if the lack of heels and/or pantyhose was a problem, it wasn’t a place I would want to work anyway. Finding a job is difficult but finding one that you love is even harder, so always trust your gut and be honest with yourself and the company!
Written by Allison Como, Senior Accountant
Read more about HBP employees who joined HBP post-graduation.