One of the biggest mistakes one could make going into an interview is a lack of preparation. It is crucial to conduct research and predict the type of questions that may be asked. Composing your answers and making reference notes will help you stay on your toes during the interview. What makes your different and better from the rest? That’s what the hiring employer wants to know. By drafting key selling points, your answers will flow effortlessly during the interview. Lastly, your prep file should contain details to help you arrive at the interview on time.
When preparing for an interview, research online resources to find common questions reported to have been asked by the target employer. Also, search for questions commonly asked of candidates seeking your target job. Websites, such as GlassDoor.com or CareerCup.com, provide you with questions that were asked of other candidates. Some industry niche sites will provide example questions for particular occupations.
Next, draft your answers to these questions. Under pressure, you might forget this information and give a less than a desirable answer. The best way to overcome this is to keep these notes handy for the interview using an old school paper tablet in a portfolio or a more efficient electronic tablet. If you freeze up when asked a tough question, you can take a quick glance at your notes and get yourself back on track. However, never read your notes word-for-word. These brief notes should be an inspiration to help you answer the questions. Always ask the interviewer if you can keep a notepad during the interview. Otherwise, commit your information to memory.
Key Selling Points
Draft and save key selling points. Strive for at least three talking points that demonstrate why you are an ideal candidate. The notes should serve as your cue to help you recall your top values, but you should have the examples memorized. That should not be too difficult as these stories are drawn from your personal career history. Use these selling points as content that you can integrate into answers to questions posed. Don’t worry if did not get a chance to use one of your points in an answer. Quite often at the end of the interview, you will be asked if there is anything that you would like to share. That will be your chance to share those additional selling points.
Directions and Other Materials
An often forgotten piece of information in preparing for an interview is a printed copy of directions to the interview location. Don’t rely on your smartphone because you never know when you might have a phone malfunction or lose your connection. It doesn’t matter to the employer why you were late; all they see is that you didn’t take the proper steps to arrive on time. Also include an interview day checklist in your interview prep file. This may include things to pack and things to be done, such as fueling your car and charging your cell phone or tablet.
Being prepared for an interview is paramount, and it goes beyond being qualified and knowing what to say. You must have notes for any questions that they can throw at you and have concise points that demonstrate why you would be a strong asset to the company. Arriving prepared informs the interviewers that your take pride in your work and care deeply about landing a position in their company.
Debra Wheatman, CPRW, CPCC is President of Careers Done Write, a premier career services provider focused on developing highly personalized career roadmaps for senior leaders and executives across all verticals and industries.