The interview is not the end of the job search process…it is just the beginning. How do you prepare for an interview?
Do your research – on the company, on the job description, on the people who will interview you. Review the company website carefully to become familiar with the products, services, and culture. Find the interviewers on LinkedIn and read their profiles. See if you can find something to relate to, or have in common.
Practice your pitch – 30-90 seconds about you. Your pitch is the elevator speech that summarizes who you are and what you have to contribute. Include your most recent job, two accomplishments, key skills, length of experience, education, languages. Write it down and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, in front of the mirror, with a friend or significant other. After you have it memorized, and you become comfortable with it, then say it in a conversational tone.
Prepare two 3×5 index cards and take them with you. On the first card write 3 to 5 accomplishments that you want to mention during the interview. On the second card write three questions you would like to ask the interviewer, and not about salary or benefits. Typical questions might include: What are the short term the challenges for the person in this position in the next 3 to 6 months? What are the long-term challenges? What keeps you up at night? What are the next steps in the process?
Be prepared with answers to typical questions: Tell me about yourself – use your pitch. Why do you want this job? – Passion for mission, contribution you can make, enthusiasm. Why should I hire you? – Reiterate three top skills that get results for their company. Tell me about your management style? Collaborative, team oriented. Praise in public, criticize in private.
And be prepared for the more difficult questions. Tell me about a time you messed up and what did you learn? Everyone makes mistakes. It is how you handle them and what you learn from them that counts. And another difficult question – Tell me about a boss you did not get along with. Show how you can work with someone even if you have disagreements.
The interview is your opportunity to show how you can help solve the problems of the organization, not simply to tout your accomplishments.