Preparation. There is no substitute.
Posted on 29 September 2016
The interview process is often unnerving. However, being appropriately prepared goes a long way towards ensuring that you stand out from the others competing with you for the job.
It astounds me how often candidates come to interviews without doing any research on the Company where they are applying for a role. It is extremely easy these days - with so much information available in the public domain – to do some basic research on the company, for example:
- Company culture: Review the company’s vision, mission statement and values and, if available, read their annual report to get a better feel of their strategic direction and if it’s the right company for you culturally.
- Key people: Most companies publish their executive team and board members – be aware of these individuals and the role they play.
- Do you know someone who works there? Reach out and talk to someone in your own network who is a current or past employee of the company to better understand what it’s like to work there.
At the very least, familiarise yourself with their key products or services; the geographic extent of their presence; recent public announcements such as acquisitions or leadership changes; and the significant markets and customers they serve.
Nothing impresses me more as an interviewer than a candidate who has done their homework and can articulate the synergistic alignment between their individual aspirations and the direction of the company.
How to prepare well and stand out
I have been in many interviews as a hiring manager where I am utterly surprised to hear from candidates that they have not read or even seen the position description for the role they are applying for. It is vital that you seek as much information about the role as possible, including:
- What are the outputs/deliverables of the role?: Review the role’s deliverables outlined in the position description so that you can prepare yourself to answer questions as to how you will achieve these outcomes.
- How will success be measured?: If the key performance indicators are detailed, you should be aware of these and how they will be measured to ensure success.
- Where does the role fit within the company?: Prepare by seeking as much information about the role as possible – including where it sits in the organisation structure, the reporting lines and the team. This discovery will set you well for the interview process – and as an interviewer, you can tell very quickly who has done their research and are well prepared versus those who are ill prepared.
It is important that you are in as much control of yourself as possible during the interview. This can be facilitated by ensuring you are fully prepared for the interview process. Find out who will be interviewing you – is it an individual or a panel? Get their names and titles and where they sit in the organisation structure relative to the role you are pursuing. Seek as much information as possible on these individuals from publicly available sources such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Also find out who may be connected or know these folk in your personal network and have a chat to find out as much as possible. This will ensure a level of familiarity and will assist towards calming your nerves.
Find out about the interview process itself and the duration as well. Nothing aggrieves me more than when someone arrives late for an interview or cannot locate the venue. You must ensure that you do your homework and even take a trial trip – especially if you are unfamiliar with the location. This is a fundamental preparation action. Always prepare a set of questions to ask the interviewer(s) – this communicates that you have been due diligent and will help set your apart from the many others who are competing with you for this opportunity.
There is a plethora of articles and books on interview tips and advice. It is indeed well worth your while to be fully aware of the idiosyncrasies and subtleties that are relevant to ensure that you are step ahead of the others competing with you for this opportunity. At the end of the day, securing the right role for you is extremely competitive and you must ensure that you are fully prepared.
I would like to hear from you if you have any other ideas and do reach out to me if I can assist in anyway in your search for the next opportunity.