No two job interviews are alike. That’s why so many candidates have a difficult time preparing – it’s just too hard to gauge how an individual interview session will be conducted. So, is it possible for a candidate prepare for a job interview although there are so many diverse interviewing styles?
1. Prepare your Wardrobe
If you’re like most job hunters, the phrase “Dress for Success” has probably been engraved into your mind since the beginning of your job search. While a good mantra to repeat to yourself as you select your interview outfit, dressing for success means much more than donning an expensive suit or dress. It is not nearly as important to dress “fashionably” as it is important to dress “professionally.” Organize your clothes no sooner than one day before your interview, and make sure your clothing is clean, pressed, and conservative – suitable to the culture of the company and image you wish to project.
2. Research the Company
Once you have an interview scheduled with a particular company, it is extremely important to research that company. It will be essential that you familiarize yourself with their business practices, products, clients and services in order to intelligently interview. Know in advance that you will be expected to interact in a conversational manner with your interviewer, and by highlighting the ways your past experience can benefit the company you’re interviewing with, you must know quite a bit about their business.
Case in point: When I was a young and inexperienced interviewee, I once accepted an interview with a company that I didn’t take the time to research, and consequently, had absolutely no idea what they did. It was a small firm that marketed videos in the business-to-business sector, and as I struggled to place myself and my experience in public relations within the company, I remember the interviewer asking me point blank, “Do you even know what we do here?” I made a guess – and, you guessed it – was totally off base. My interview promptly ended and I was shown the door.
It was an inexcusable gaff, and one I could have easily avoided had I taken the time to research the company before our meeting. Had I prepared, I could have easily assimilated my past work experience into a “niche” within their industry. Avoid my costly mistake – read published company material, talk with current or past employees, research the business or industry through trade journals or on the Web. Or, if the company you are interviewing with is small, familiarize yourself with their industry by learning appropriate jargon, industry trends, etc.
3. Know your Expectations
Before you attend an interview, know in advance the dollar amount you will require to work for that company. Understanding what you want from your remuneration package will enable you to ask intelligent questions, and give valuable input. Pre-determine what you want in your benefit package as well, but understand that a preliminary interview does not guarantee you will enter into salary or benefit talks (that will more than likely take place during your second or third interviews).
4. Review your Past
Assemble relevant documentation regarding your work history, background or education. Compile such information as a portfolio complete with copies of certificates and awards received, examples of past projects you worked on, letters of recommendation, documentation of positive performance reviews, etc. Be prepared to speak about practical examples of your past work behavior, successes and achievements. Also be prepared to discuss times when you excelled at a particular assignments, etc. All of this will help to demonstrate your competencies. Since past successes are a good indication of future success, be prepared to discuss specific times you excelled at your past job.