You just received the itinerary for your upcoming interview and as you gaze over the list…one, two, three, four people. If you are lucky, it could be more. I have scheduled candidates with as many as six and on top of that you always have to be prepared for substitutes or an add-in. The first thing is…don’t panic, you can do this, one step at a time. Secondly, pat yourself on the back; a company has taken this much time out of this many employees’ schedules to talk to you! So now it is time to throw down your gauntlet and run their gauntlet. Almost doesn’t make sense (the latter is actually gantlet) such is the complexity of the English language and the importance of context…context is key. But first you have to prepare, so let’s get started.
- Clean up your web presence. If you have a Social Networking page be sure it has a professional picture (no Keg stands or beach pics). You may want to consider going deeper untagging/deleting questionable pics or dialing up the privacy settings. Another way is to simply drop your last name from your profile and use your first & middle as identifiers. If you have a Linkedin profile, update with your current experience, professional picture, and profile that 100% matches your resume. Also check the Linkedin company links so they match the correct company and division in which you worked (example a company search for Johnson & Johnson turned up 2846 results). This is all very important. Chances are HR did a quick search when they received your resume but now the odds of your Social Network investigation are multiplied by the number of people interviewing you.
- Study, study, and study! First study the company. Hit the company website and read their mission statement, about us, leadership (this might help your last step) and also press releases. For extra credit research their financial performance (easier if they are public), external stories (i.e. not company press releases), and employee opinions on websites like Glassdoor. Next research the job description, how it relates to your resume and your experience. Highlight pertinent experience on your resume and make note of requirements on Job Description that you have met. Now look over your itinerary, which hopefully includes the names and titles of the interviewers and not just times. Study up on the interviewers on Linkedin, Facebook, or Google. But be careful! You don’t want to come off like a stalker…keep your interview conversation to what you see on Linkedin…college, job history, etc..just their professional experience.
- Prepare your questions and your conversation with individual interviewers. Do you know the names and titles of your interviewers? If so use this knowledge to prepare questions and set the context for your conversation with them. If you don’t know, you are going to have to adjust on the fly.
- A superior? If you are talking to a potential superior show your desire to succeed and excitement about the role and company. Ask questions around responsibility, what it takes to succeed, and challenges for the role.
- Same level as the role you are interviewing? Show you are a team player, adaptable, and responsible. People also like co-workers they can relate to so try to find some common ground. Ask questions about the day to day of the role.
- Different department? If you are interviewing for a sales role and you are talking to someone in Finance speak the language they want to hear. Review your successes if you have relevant material to discuss be sure to mention your attention to the numbers. Such as saving x amount of $$ with a new strategy or achieved your sales quota without additional promotional spending. Overall you want to show some cross functionality or understanding of how their department influences this role.
- Comfortable and confident. It may be time to do some shopping for an interview outfit. You want to feel comfortable and choose an outfit that makes you feel confident. You want clothes that are not too tight, over accessorized, or flashy. Also, you are going to be there for a few hours and you don’t want to look uncomfortable. The time you are with each interviewer is limited so you might not have the time for your personality to show through. You want to ensure you make a great first impression when you walk through their office door and not squirm in the chair while the interviewing because your pants are digging into your side.
- What to bring. How many people are interviewing you? This is, at least, how many clean copies of your resume you should have printed. It is a laptop world and they might not have it up on their screen when you walk in the door. Also have the same number of cards available. If you are not comfortable giving out your business card have personal cards printed with your name, contact info, Linkedin Profile address, and most recent title. The easiest way to get their card to present yours…most of the time business people reciprocate. Walking away with their card is important. Now you have the correct address to send a follow up (very important) and get in touch with them if needed. Also bring a notepad and a few pens for notes during the conversations.
- The day arrives. You are ready! You have done your homework and mentally prepared for the conversations. Map out your route and pad arrival time but don’t walk in too early. You may be spending some time in the break room in between interviews. Stay away from coffee or too much water. You don’t want to be jittery, risk a coffee stain, or have the urge to go to the bathroom in the middle of your third conversation. Look for opportunities to compliment everyone you meet on their successes, contribution, and company.
By taking the time to research, think out your conversations, and compliment your interviewers you will have set yourself above the rest and leave a memorable impression The next step is follow up with everyone who interviewed you! Do the work and the next conversation could be an offer.