Is there some “secret sauce” on how to prepare for a job interview that turns candidates into hires? Parker Blake is an Atlanta-based executive recruiting firm in the business of matching qualified candidates with great career opportunities, and that process starts with finding and preparing candidates. Here are some job interview tips that have helped candidates nail down the offer.
Do the background research
The first step to prepare for a job interview is to study the hiring company. Examine their website and do an internet search for news or articles written about them. Know their exact street location and, if possible, drive to your interview location the day before to understand the time involved and any quirks along the route.
Interviewing by phone
Most employers (and all executive recruiting firms) start with a phone interview. To prepare, first organize your thoughts ahead of time. Make separate lists of your accomplishments, goals, and strengths. Then make another list of your weaknesses and what you are doing to overcome them. On a third list, specify why you are interested in this position and this company.
Next, practice interview questions with friends or family. Practice frequently, until you feel comfortable with your responses. Ask for – and accept – feedback. You can find potential interviewer questions on the internet or in a bookstore. (Our next post will include some of the questions that you are likely to hear.) Remember to look back at your lists of accomplishments and goals when answering questions. Your objective should be to provide concise yet informative answers that highlight your fit for the position.
Be sure to have all of your documents (lists, resume, cover letter, notepad & pen) neatly organized on your desk, but avoid clutter.
Maximize the onsite interview
You’ve certainly heard this before, but dress for success. It’s almost always best to wear a suit unless your profession requires a different type of dress. Introduce yourself with a confident handshake, meeting each person’s eyes with a friendly smile. (This means everyone from the receptionist to the interviewer – consider that anyone you meet could be involved in the hiring decision.)
While the interview is largely focused on your answers, be an attentive and active listener. Don’t interrupt anyone else while they are speaking.
Finally, to prepare for a job interview, be ready to ask insightful questions that show that you are both familiar with the company and its needs and familiar with the responsibilities and challenges of the position.
Questions to ask in a job interview
“Do you have any questions for us?” It’s one more element of the interview process when you can showcase your interest in the company, along with your understanding of the industry and your aptitude for the position. When Parker Blake prepares a candidate for an interview, we provide a list of more than 30 questions for the candidate to consider asking. Here are some of our favorite questions for candidates to ask the potential employer.
- What characteristics best describe individuals who have been successful in this or similar positions?
- Imagine today is my first day. What are your expectations of my first 90 days?
- Tell me about your company culture.
- What distinguishes your company from its competition?
- Are there any new product/services/offerings planned?
- Where is your company going in the next 5 years?
- What are the three major problems to be tackled and conquered?
- If I prove my value to the firm, where might I be in 5 years?
- How would you describe your organization’s personality and management style?
- What criteria are you using to make a final hiring decision?
One final question that is almost always appropriate:
Is there any reason that you feel I would not be a good fit for this position/opportunity? By closing with this question, you have a chance to reiterate the reasons that make you stand out as a great hire. Don’t be modest when reminding the interviewer of your job-specific skills!
While these tips are not exactly the “secret sauce” to help you prepare for a job interview, they can help you determine your level of interest in a specific position and can increase your chances of success when you find that next great opportunity.
Parker Blake is an executive recruiting firm in Atlanta that finds great professionals for outstanding companies. Read about how we work and see some of our current searches here. Contact us at any time to talk about how we can give you an advantage in finding your next professional.