Everyone’s heard about how to prepare for an interview:
- Dig-into the company’s website and their competitors’ websites
- Google the company and see if they’re in the news
- Talk to someone who works there etc. etc. etc.
But you’re missing the most important step of all.
Before you do anything else, contact the HR/recruiter pro (or if it’s a small company, the hiring manager or admin) and ask some important questions that will help focus the rest of your pre-interview preparation.
Ask these questions:
- How much time should I plan on for the interview?
- Who will conduct the interview, names and titles? Once you have this info, go home and check interviewers’ LinkedIn profiles, so you know the basics about their experience and education
- If you are interviewing with multiple people, will the interview be a panel (all at one time) or consecutive interviews (30-60 minutes with each person individually) Bring a “Red Bull” if you’re being interviewed consecutively by several people. This can be very draining.
- Does the company have a proscribed style of interviewing (i.e. behavioral )
- Will there be any assessments? Is so what type (personality, skill testing or cognitive reasoning) and what are the names of the assessments?) If there will be tests, download some similar assessments and wrap your brain around test-taking strategies.
- What is recommended for dress? I had a client who interviewed for a business development job at a top advertising agency. My client proudly walked in with his 3-piece suit “interview outfit” and the president of the company came out in flip flops and shorts. The interview was essentially over when the candidate was asked….”are you my attorney or what?”
- Is there anything you can tell me that will help me prepare for this interview? This might sound like you’re pushing it, but recruiters want you to do a good job. This makes them look good and that they’ve made a good choice. Hopefully the recruiter will share hot buttons of the interviewer.
Asking all of this intimidates a lot of candidates. Most often when they’re called for an interview, they get excited and schedule it and go in COLD…wrong. You can email these questions so the HR person can answer them during their own time. Or if even better, give him/her a call for a nice chat that starts by saying, “I’d really like to do well in this interview. Would you have a few minutes to answer a few questions that will help me to do my best?”
As a footnote to this… if you’re going for a government job, forget about asking these questions. The most you’ll probably get is the length of time of the interview and if it will be a panel or individual gig.