8 Ways to Prepare for an In-Person Interview

March 2019 Candidate Advice

In the job search process, successful candidates begin by customizing their resume, updating profiles and engaging on social media, and crafting targeted outreach to the companies and jobs they desire. All of this takes time, but ultimately, the end-game is to land the in-person interview. And once you do, it’s time to focus your efforts on successfully interviewing to get the job offer!

By Vanessa Kramer, Principal, MBK Search

In the job search process, successful candidates begin by customizing their resume, updating profiles and engaging on social media, and crafting targeted outreach to the companies and jobs they desire. All of this takes time, but ultimately, the end-game is to land the in-person interview. And once you do, it’s time to focus your efforts on successfully interviewing to get the job offer!

Interview Tips

1. Prepare! Research the company, industry and position

Know what the company does, the position responsibilities and why you are interested!

2. Get off on the right foot with the interviewer

Arrive early, at least 10 minutes early. Bring your resume and be familiar with everything on it. Be ready for small talk but don’t get off-track. Let the interviewer know you’re excited to be there, or you’ve been looking forward to meeting them and that you are excited about this opportunity.

3. Be ready with your “Selling Points” - why you are the person for the job

Capitalize on the first 10 minutes of the interview. Be prepared to answer the “Tell Me About Yourself” question, which could also be “take me through your resume”, or “what about your background interests you in this role?”. This is a critical part of the interview and you should and be able to articulate in a few sentences at least three “selling points”. Something like, “The main things I think you should know about me are…” and expand on each.

I like answers that are brief but explain 1.) Where you’ve been (your past), 2.) how that experience got you where you are now (your present), and 3.) where you are going (your future)– i.e. why you are interested in and are the perfect fit for their position!

4. Practice and prepare for the expected interview questions

Common questions range from “Tell me about yourself “question above, to Behavioral questions, to ‘Brain-Teaser” questions, which can set you off-kilter! Behavioral based questions are designed to see how your past performance will predict your future success. You may be asked “tell me about a time you overcame a challenge”, or “give me an example when you had to deliver bad news”. Your answers should be well-thought out beforehand and follow the PAR approach – Problem, Action, Result.

With Technical questions or ‘brain-teasers’ most interviewers are looking to understand your thought process vs. a correct/exact answer. Thus, consider how you approach problems and verbalize the methods you use to solve them.

5. Ask the right questions

Ask questions that show you have an interest in their company and that will divulge information – information that is not found on the job description. Asking questions about their business or industry challenges, organizational structure, career path, etc., not only show you are interested but can yield key information for you.

If you draw a blank when asked for a question, a good approach is to ask opinion-based questions like, “What do you see as the biggest challenge facing your department/company/industry?” or “What do you think makes for a successful employee?”

6. Actively participate and listen, then re-tell

An interview is a conversation. Both parties are attempting to discover if it’s the right fit for them and you. If you are asking the right questions, you will be prepared to use what you’ve learned from the interviewer and re-tell your ‘selling points’.

Listen for key skills, projects, or objectives and target your responses to highlight precisely how you match, can add value, can contribute, etc. to their exact needs. And be ready to steer the conversation if necessary – if you are not asked about a strength or project/accomplishment that is relevant, you need to bring it up!

7. Anticipate any concerns and be ready to address reservations

Inevitably, you will be asked about your “weaknesses”. The best way to communicate any development area is to demonstrate self-awareness, and to show growth and initiative. Everyone has something they need to improve, and in an interview the best approach is to focus more on what you plan to do or have done to improve and/or grow.

If you are facing a concern about a gap in skill, where the interviewer may see you as a “stretch” candidate, focusing on your transferrable skills - things you learned in one industry or position that carry over and/or your additive skills – things in your background that add to your ability to do the job can help close the gap. The key is staying positive! The way you phrase your response make a difference. Don’t start with “I know I don’t have X experience…”. Instead, try “My experience with Y and Z has given me the skills that I believe will enable me to be successful/make an impact/etc.…”

8. End with thanks

At the end of the interview, I don’t suggest pressing for any decision or assessment of how you measure up – it puts the interviewer on the spot.

Do thank the interviewer for their time, re-iterate your interest, tell them you look forward to hearing from them and to contact you if they need more information – brief and positive!

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