You didn’t see it coming – at least not this fast. The call came in last night and you have until Friday to prepare for that important interview – and today is Tuesday. What to do!! Don’t panic. You can prepare in three days by using this step-by-step guide. If you don’t have three days – you may have to stay awake a little longer to prepare by compressing the exercises.
The first step is to get a copy of the job posting and study it. Read it first for content, the second time for words, and the third time for the factors that are needed to do this job – reading between the lines.
By doing this exercise you will be able to identify the “Key Factors” needed for the job. For example, if there are many references to “deadlines and pressure,” you will need good “Time Management Skills.” That will become one of the factors that you will prepare to discuss and how you work well with deadlines and pressure.
How Do You Fit The Requirements?
Next, do a quick exercise comparing what they are looking for against what you have to offer. This is a simple two-column exercise – one side of a sheet of paper list what “They Want” and the other side of the sheet what “You Have to Offer.” How do you size up? Where are you strong? Where will you have to stretch?
You will also want to research the company; the industry, and the competition. The Internet is full of easy-to-get-to information. Be sure and look at the company’s website and “google” the company to find out any current information.
Begin to focus on what you have to offer and how you will let the interviewer what you have to offer.
Your Personal Statement – You will want to prepare a personal statement that you will be able to say in two minutes or less. This personal statement will be used to answer questions such as: “Tell me about yourself,” or “What experience do you have that qualifies you for this position?”
Your statement should be focused and include your education, and experience; your expertise or areas of knowledge; your strengths; and something about your work style or work ethic – what other’s might say about you. Lastly, end with something of interest – maybe a hobby that is job related or something that makes you a good fit for the position.
Your personal statement is very important because it is a summary of you and your experiences and what you have to offer. It is worth spending some time writing it in a concise manner, trying to include as much as possible so that the interviewer has a good image of who you are and what you’ve done. This statement will also assist you if you are asked, “Walk me through your resume,” because you will have already flushed out what you want the interviewer to know about you.
Your Examples – Success Stories.
You may find it helpful if you write out at least five success stories to answer any questions that ask for examples (known as behavioral interview questions). Your stories will give specific examples to answer such questions as: “Can you tell me about a time when you …,” or “Describe a situation when you….” Look at the key factors that you identified earlier to focus your stories on what they are seeking.
These stories should be written with a beginning – where and when; a middle – what action took place; and an end – the result. The importance of the story is not the story itself, but what the interviewer hears from the story about your past behavior as an indicator of your future behavior. In other words, if you did it before, you could do it again – bad or good.
The Most Common Interview Questions
While there is no way of predicting what will be asked in an interview, you can prepare for general questions often asked in interviews. Why did you leave/are you leaving your last position? What do you know about this company? What are your goals? What are your strengths/weaknesses? Why do you want to work for this company? What has been your most significant achievement? How would your last boss/colleagues describe you? Why should we hire you? Scripting your answers before the interview will assist you when you are under pressure during the interview.
Prepare To Ask Questions
At some point in the interview, the interviewer usually asks you if you have any questions. The wrong answer to say, “No, I don’t have any questions as this point.” It is important for you to ask questions.
You can write a list of questions that are important to you. Do not ask questions regarding salary, benefits, or time-off until you are sure that there is some interest in you. In other words, “sell yourself first.”
Some good questions to ask will come as a result of the things you discuss or the questions asked during the interview. If, for example, they have been talking a great deal about a subject such as “customer service.” It would be appropriate for you to ask about customer service. You might say, “We’ve been talking about customer service, could you tell me about the biggest problem in this area?”
If you can get them to tell you about “their” problems or challenges in this job, you can sell yourself as a “solution to their problem.” Someone who understands the problem and can come in and make things better.
Salary Information and References
One of the most dreaded questions asked in any interview is, “What is your salary expectation?”
By doing some research on salaries and what the “going rate” for this type of position is before the interview you won’t be caught “off guard” if they ask you for a number or a range. You should know your salary needs, based on your living expenses and your bottom line or walk away point – when you can’t afford to take this job.
This is a good time to put your reference sheet together as well. Be sure to get permission from your references to use their names. Make up a sheet of names and contact information in the event that you are asked for references during or after the interview. .
Make sure your interview outfit is in good order – clean and wrinkle-free. Remember, you are selling yourself and first impressions stick. Stay away from trendy clothes unless you are going for a job in the fashion industry. It is best to be conservative in everything about you – hair, jewelry, handbag/briefcase, shoes.
Items To Carry To The Interview
Several copies of your resume on good paper Copy of your reference sheet Pad of paper to take notes (notes are optional) Directions/map to the interview site
That’s it. You did it! Prepared for the interview in three days.
Should you have the luxury of more days to prepare, use that additional time to put more time and practice into the preparation. Preparation will make a huge difference in your confidence, and confidence will make a big difference in the impression you make, and making a good impression will make you a more serious candidate to consider for a job offer!
Copyright (c) 2007 Carole Martin, The Interview Coach
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