02 Sep Do your homework
The most important thing to remember as you’re preparing for a job interview can be succinctly stated: You never
get a second chance to make a first impression.
When you meet an interviewer—regardless of whether it’s (let’s say) in-person at the prospective employer or
virtually with a third-party placement firm—there’s a lot on the line. As such, while every prospect’s situation is
unique, it’s common to feel somewhat anxious.
It’s important to understand, however, that such anxiety is frequently rooted in your state of readiness. Simply
put, the more prepared you are for an interview, the less anxious you’ll probably feel. After all, anxiety is typically
caused by feelings of uncertainty and doubt. The best defense is to minimize the unknown—and, in the case of a
job interview, that means doing everything you can to become a subject matter expert (SME) on the employer.
Keep in mind the old joke: A New York City tourist asks a native New Yorker “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”
—to which the tongue-in-cheek response is “Practice, practice, practice.” It’s a point well-taken. Before an
interview, you need to do your research. (Think about it: You can only expect to perform well on a school exam if
you study beforehand.)
So, in an interview setting, what are the things you need to do to prepare? While they vary by type of position
being sought (e.g., generally speaking, a permanent or managerial position typically demands a greater amount
of preparation time than a temp position), here are some of the most important things to consider. (BTW: This list
is merely a sampling; you get “extra points” for using your own initiative here!)
Look the part
Unfortunately, “never judging a book by its cover” does not always hold weight in an interview situation.
Employers seek individuals who are competent, professional and responsible—and the way you present yourself
speaks (unspoken) volumes. While the “appropriateness” of physical appearance will vary widely by job and
industry (e.g., positions with public interaction vs. warehouse work), always ensure that you’re proud of the image
Know your lines
Of course, you can never be sure what questions you’ll be asked during an interview. It helps, therefore, to
remember that—at its essence—the employer seeks someone who wants to work for them and who can, in
some way, enhance the company’s productivity (whether that is measured, for example, in units sold or units
packed/shipped). You should demonstrate sincere interest and enthusiasm in the open position by developing a
working knowledge of the company (e.g., its products and services, its size, its history, etc.) and be ready to
speak to any prior work experience that’s relevant.
Make it a dialogue, not a monologue
The higher the job level being sought, the more important it is to remember the old adage: “You’re interviewing
them as much as they’re interviewing you.” Nothing demonstrates interest and enthusiasm more than pertinent,
intelligent questions. Go in with some questions in mind, such as: “What attributes do you value most in an employee?”; “How does the company encourage and foster collaboration?”; and “What would a ‘typical’ day be
like in this position?”
Don’t make it selfie time (or a social hour)
Put one hundred percent into the interview. Focus on the present and do not leave yourself vulnerable to external
distractions. In other words: Make it clear to the interviewer that they are the most important person in the
moment by going off-the-grid. Electronic correspondence like social media can certainly wait until after your
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