What I’ve Learned About Interview Preparation

Here are my 10 top tips for mastering a professional interview gained from over 15 years of industry experience as a recruiter. Some are well-known, but worth repeating. Remember that you are selling yourself and your experience.

  1. Conduct company research. This means going to the company’s website (especially the news/current events section), blog, social media accounts, and LinkedIn. If you know someone who works or has worked for the company, ask them about corporate culture there. Never go into an interview blind about the company. It is your responsibility to find out as much as you can about the place you want to work.
  2. Research the people who will be interviewing you. Read their LinkedIn profiles and note their professional backgrounds.
  3. Review common interview questions and prepare your answers in advance. Know what your weaknesses are and be prepared to answer how you have overcome them. Have insightful questions ready. Be prepared to discuss a problem you had, what action you took to resolve it, and the result. Pre-interview preparation is the key to making the whole interview process less stressful for you.
  4. Make sure your social media accounts are set to private and make sure there are no negative images of you floating around in cyberspace. You can also use an app like www.socialsweepster.com to clean up your social media account. Please be aware that most employers utilize social media as part of their screening process.
  5. If working with a recruiter, ask about specific questions that have been asked of candidates in the past.
  6. Make sure you dress appropriately and arrive early.
  7. Project confidence and realize that body language speaks volumes. This means, no weak handshakes, low speaking voice, bad posture, etc.
  8. Do not disparage  any current or former employers, disclose personal info or keep your cell phone on during your interview.
  9. Do carry a simple/professional portfolio or binder and pen to take notes.  Caveats:  Make sure there are no company logos or notes that are not appropriate for the interviewer to see. Do not keep your head in the binder when you should be making eye contact with the other person. Bring a few printed copies of your Resume/CV. It looks professional and shows you are prepared. If working with a recruiter, be sure to have the same version that they have sent to the interviewers.
  10. Send a personalized Thank You note to everyone who interviewed you. A personalized note means that you have another opportunity to express your interest in the company after you have completed the interview. Do not write a vague Thank You note. You want to distinguish yourself from others. Make sure to follow-up with your recruiter or HR contact after your interview. 

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