The initial onsite interview: it is a source of anxiety, excitement, and promise, all in one. It is the first opportunity for you to make an impression with the company of your dreams. It is also the first chance you have to establish yourself as a legitimate candidate with Human Resources and the appropriate Hiring Manager. In order for you to obtain your desired role and get on track with your career goals, this will need to go well. So what steps should you take beforehand in order to ensure a successful interview?
It starts with doing your homework. Companies typically don’t require you to do anything before an interview other than fill out an application and show up on time, but that doesn’t mean you should only do what they require. Doing only what is asked of you will not bring you your desired results. It is those of us who go above and beyond that typically succeed.
It is imperative that you research the company. This is the first step to successful interview preparation. You should go on to the company’s website and read all you can about them. Google them, check out message boards and related groups and try to find out as much information as you can about the company. The more you know; the more informed you will be, and knowledge is power. It is also a great idea to prepare a few relevant questions about the company, such as things that you want to know about them that show you are interested in what they do. Write down these questions before your interview and bring them with you. Reference the website. Example: “I was doing some research on your website and I had a question about _____”. When you reference the website during an interview, you are demonstrating to the company that you went out of your way to find as much as you could. This goes a long way towards showing them you are interested in the position.
Take a look at Hiring Managers and employees of the company on LinkedIn to get an idea of what kind of experience the company looks for in an ideal candidate. If you do not have a LinkedIn profile, go to www.linkedin.com and create one. It is an excellent resource for companies and job seekers alike.
Print out a copy of your resume for each person you will be interviewing with, along with one for yourself, and then an additional resume in case somebody else jumps in. Wear a suit (and yes, men, always wear a tie). Dress as professionally as possible. Their first impression will be how you carry yourself and how you look, so present yourself if in the best light possible.
Prepare for them to ask you why you left previous positions. They are going to want to know about this, so rehearse your answers beforehand. Prepare 2-3 success stories for each position you have held, and be prepared to discuss measureable successes. This will make it easier for you to navigate your work history and sell yourself successfully to the company at the same time. Knowing how you will approach explaining your work history beforehand will help you sound more professional while you actually are explaining it.
In addition to those questions about the company that you prepared beforehand, prepare a few more. Think company culture, work-life balance, mobility, opportunity, etc. They will ALWAYS ask you if you have any questions, and you should ALWAYS have questions to ask. If you do not have any questions prepared, you can be assured they will not think you are very interested.
Lastly, map out your commute to the interview and leave early enough so that you arrive in the parking lot at least 15 minutes before your scheduled interview. This way you have enough time to avoid being late because of traffic, accidents, or any other unexpected occurrence.
This is only half the battle though, as you still will need to go in and actually do the interview. But at least you will have set yourself up for a successful interaction. They say Luck happens when Preparation meets Opportunity. So once you lock down that opportunity, prepare, and your chances of success will be that much higher.