Advice on how to prepare for a job interview often focuses on studying a list of generic questions like "What is my greatest weakness?" or "Tell me about yourself" and preparing answers in advance. While knowing how to answer these questions is important, preparing for an interview must be more sophisticated.
The job interview is your best opportunity to impress a company and distinguish yourself from other applicants. It’s where you get to stand out as a candidate by demonstrating your insight into the job and your knowledge of the company. Advance research and preparation will help you get there. What follows is a list of items you’ll want to know before going into your interview.
1. Know the job description.
Carefully study the job description and note the exact objectives and skills discussed. Once you identify the objectives, look at your own work history for instances where you fulfilled similar objectives. You want to associate each of the mentioned objectives with an instance of success in your own career. If you show previous success at required tasks you will exhibit your ability to flourish in the job.
2. Know the product.
Often interviewers will ask you what you know about a company. For this reason you want to have a firm understanding of what the company sells, the services it provides, etc. The more intelligently you can speak about a company’s products and services, the better.
3. Know the company’s competitors.
Have a good understanding of the company’s competitors and how the company distinguishes itself from them. This will give you insight into the opportunities and challenges facing the company.
4. Know the company’s language.
Learn the way a company describes itself and adopt the same language to discuss yourself, your skills, and the company. By reading what the company has produced—on company website, press releases, so forth--you’ll get a sense of the language they use. If you use the same language when you speak, the interviewer will have an easier time picturing you at the company--you’ll already sound like an employee.
5. Know who works at the company.
Use social media and company websites to uncover colleagues, managers, and any other key members of the organization. Knowing the names of these individuals will allow you to better follow along with the interviewer. Finding out who works at a given company may also help you identify potential network connections to contact for a referral or advice.
6. Know how you will succeed at the job.
If you can speak intelligently about how you would succeed at a job, you will come across as the right person for that position. For example, if I were interviewing for a blog contributor position I would develop concepts for the company’s intended audience. Then I would show why those concepts would resonate with the blog’s audience, referencing research I had done (interest in similar topics, frequency of questions related to a topic, etc.).
It is important to keep in mind you won’t be aware of every company goal. However, offering an educated, well-planned proposal will showcase the benefits you will bring the company.
7. Know what to ask.
Every interviewer will provide you a chance to ask questions. So while you prepare for the interview, note any information that you are unable to locate. Questions related to how the company operates, the products and services it provides, or how the company positions itself are excellent topics to ask the interviewer about. This will show the extent of your preparation and your inquisitive mind. Both will impress potential employers.
What do you always make sure to know before you walk into a job interview?