Getting a new job is a daunting task. If you make it to the interview process it can be the most difficult part of the job search. Once you have an interview lined up, you have made an initial impression with your resume, but you still need to focus on making a compelling case and convince the hiring manager that you are the perfect fit for the role. The interview process is more than the interview itself. There exists a 3-part cycle that starts before you ever meet the potential employer. The cycle consists of Before, The day of, and After. (This is the first post in a 3-part series.)
Before the interview
Do your research
Be prepared. This shows the employer that you care enough about the opportunity to invest your time to know about the business and how you will be a good fit for their organization. When you receive the call to book the the interview, ask a few questions such as, will it be a panel or a single person? What is the dress code? Also, clarify where to go or who to ask for. This shows you take initiative and want to be prepared.
Then, you need to research all the available information about the employer – this includes going through the company website in detail and doing a search on Google, LinkedIn, their social media and in the news. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to ask intelligent, informed questions; and impress the interviewer with your keenness. Plus, you’ll get an insight into the company’s culture, its people and values to determine if their vision is in line with your own core values.
NOTE! One of the perks of being a Work Evolution member is access to this research. Members can save hours of time by reviewing the research consolidated by the Work Evolution team and displayed at the bottom of each job posting. (Register for Work Evolution).
Prepare for questions
An employer needs to see that you have a very clear understanding of the role and that your skills and experiences are aligned to the job. They also need to get a feel for how you will fit in with the company culture.
Start by reviewing the position description in detail. Highlight all the key points and think about the type of questions you might be asked. You can easily find lists of commonly asked questions online. Pick a few and practice how you would answer them. Expect to be asked some broad questions as well as behavioral based questions that resolve around past behaviour and indicate if you will be in alignment with the company’s mission and values. For example, a commonly asked behavioural question is “Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a co-worker and how did you resolve it?”
An effective way to answer these types of questions is to use the ‘EAR’ technique:
• What was the Event?
• What Action did you take?
• And what was the Result or Resolution?
It can also show your adaptability to identify what you learned from your experience. Make sure you keep the focus on yourself and how you created a resolution – an employer does not want to hear about what ‘we’ did – they want to know what YOU did.
Dress the part
Dress for the part. If the office is a business professional dress code and you show up in business casual, then you haven’t done your research. Receptionists or the hiring manager can provide this type of info if you politely enquire over the phone.
Always err on the side of caution (i.e. be conservative). Don’t wear your favorite neon pink shirt and lucky sneakers. That’s not how you want to stand out from the crowd. It will distract from you and your qualifications if the employer is distracted by your outfit choice.
Whether you like it or not, people will judge you based on your appearance. If you are impeccably groomed, you will come across as being presentable and competent.
A few days before, decide what you will wear and make sure it is clean and free of wrinkles. This will help alleviate your stress the day of the interview as you won’t be in a panic trying to pick your outfit.
It’s all about the first impression
Show up 15 minutes before your interview time. This shows you are punctual and reliable. Be polite and friendly and treat everyone you meet with respect. You could be walking in the door next to the CEO or the CEO’s assistant.
If you feel nervous that is normal. Take some extra deep breaths all the way down to your belly. The more oxygen you get into your bloodstream, the calmer you will feel. Take the last few minutes to visualize the meeting coming to a successful close. Focus on positive thoughts to keep your energy light and enthusiastic.
The first 30 seconds are your chance to shine. Shake hands firmly and greet your interviewer by name. Don’t just take a seat – wait to be offered one. You don’t want to sit in the interviewer’s chair by mistake!
Kimberly Carson-Richards, is a Certified Business and Life Coach and the founder of Forward Momentum Coaching Solutions. She is passionate about helping her clients create rapid transformation on their journey to personal and professional success.
In addition to her coaching certification, Kimberly holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, and is a Certified Project Leader. She also holds a certificate in Leadership with a focus on effective public speaking skills. She spent over 20 years on a vertical career path in retail that ended as a furniture buyer for a large national company, when she decided to course correct to chase her passion and started her own business as a business and life coach.
She loves public speaking and trying anything that generally pushes her outside of her comfort zone. (except skydiving, she will never do that!)