The goal of a good resume is to get you interviews—a necessary first step towards landing your new job. Most hiring authorities agree, however, that the most important thing a job seeker can do is to thoroughly prepare for the interview process. You may be well qualified for a position, but if you don’t do your homework about the company, practice for your interviews, and follow up effectively afterwards, you will probably lose out to another qualified candidate who made a better impression.
To be effectively prepared for your interviews, you must …
- Know yourself. Identify you skills, strengths and interests. What type of job will excite you? Don’t settle for a mere paycheck when you could develop a meaningful career—the kind where you can’t wait to get started every morning! The process of creating your resume is a great starting point.
- Learn about the company. It’s important to understand the company profile and company philosophy. Failure to do this is the #1 error committed by job seekers, and will most likely doom your efforts. Besides, how will you know if YOU want to work at this company, if you have no idea what they do?
- Learn about the requirements of the position. Understanding these requirements will help you to demonstrate to the interviewer why you are the perfect candidate.
- Learn about the key decision-makers in the hiring process. People tend to hire people they “feel” will fit in with the perceived corporate culture. Obviously, this is very subjective. Knowing something about the person—their position in the company, their areas of responsibility, and so on—can help you ask relevant questions and present yourself as someone who can contribute to their team.
- Acquaint yourself with different interviewing styles and be prepared for them all: direct interview, shotgun interview, indirect interview, stress interview, and patterned or structured interview.
- Anticipate typical questions that interviewers might ask and the attributes or characteristics they will be looking for during your interviews. Prepare answers that will present your qualifications positively and honestly.
- Make a list of your own questions. Remember that an interview is a two-way street—the interviewer is determining if you are a “fit” for their company, and you must assess for yourself if the company “fits” you.
- Rehearse before your actual interviews. You are preparing for a most important role—playing YOU! An actor or musician would not go on stage without rehearsing, and neither should you.
- Follow up immediately and enthusiastically after your interview. Make notes immediately following each interview, then write a sincere note of thanks to each person who interviewed you. Re-emphasize your strongest selling points and address some of the specifics you talked about. Let them know you are interested.