Before the Interview: 4 Tips to Triumph

November 12th, 2009 | Interviewing | No Comments »

So you know how a typical interview goes and you think you’re ready, but what would you do if you were asked a question that you had no idea how to answer.  Or maybe you have the perfect answer, but you open your mouth and nothing comes out?  What if your interviewer is a fan of non-conventional interview techniques and you have no clue how to react?  Maybe you simply hate leaving an interview with no idea as to how well or badly it went.

While knowing what to do during an interview to ensure success is important, too many people forget that what you do in the time leading up to an interview is just as important.  Don’t let any of the above situations happen ever again!  Here are 4 top tips for preparing for an interview that will guarantee triumph.

1. Research the company

So you haven’t researched the company.  Maybe you like to be surprised in the interview; maybe you just didn’t have time.  But what if your success depends upon your answer to a question like, “what do you think of our product/social image/recent news/company/etc?”  Or what if you accept the position, start work, and find out that you hate what the company does?

The more you know about a company, the more comfortable you’ll be in the interview, and the better you’ll answer tough questions.  Get to know the company inside out!  Discover what values and image the company portrays to the public.  Besides the company’s own website, look for press releases, endorsements, partnerships, and social network groups or pages for the company.

2. Research the people

What if you found nothing in your research and you’re still faced with those questions?  Will you panic?  Will you say, “I don’t know…”  Maybe you have no clue who will be interviewing you, and that makes you more nervous than anything.  Should you make small talk, be funny, be serious?

A company is nothing without the people, so the more you know the people, the more you know the company, and the more comfortable you’ll be.  The trick is to find people who work (or worked) in the same department or people with similar job titles within the company. Resources like Facebook and LinkedIn are goldmines for finding these people. Find out about who you’ll be interviewing with, who you’ll be working with, the things you’ll be working on, and other information you couldn’t find online.

3. Get in the mood!

You didn’t get your coffee this morning, your car broke down on the highway, your spilled breakfast destroyed your favorite pants, and you just had a horrible fight with your sweetheart.  Things are going wrong at the last minute, putting you a foul mood.  What if the thought of an interview is the straw that breaks the camel’s back?  How will you act, what will you do?

Breathe, relax, and be yourself!  It’s not unheard of that a positive and enthusiastic attitude will overcome other shortcomings, such as not enough experience.  Stay focused on the thought of the interview, and remain upbeat!  Once you know every little thing about the company, get excited about it!

Of course, don’t go overboard – just be yourself.  We don’t want to hear any complaints from companies suggesting that your over-enthusiasm made them question your sanity! Remain positive and just be yourself!

4. Rehearsal!

Imagine this: you scored the lead role in the play, you know everything about the play and the playwright, you’re excited about opening night…but you get up on stage in front of the audience and you’re hit by stage fright.  You don’t remember one line and you entirely forget about the art of improvisation.  Do you pee your pants, mumble nonsense words, and run off stage?

Mentally rehearse the interview over and over.  Anticipate the questions and know how you will respond.  Visualize the interview going perfectly; the more you believe it, the more likely it is to happen.  Understand that you do have a little freedom in your words – you don’t want to sound like you’re reading a script.

Don’t forget that an interview goes both ways – they may want to find out if you’re what they want, but the vice versa is true also.  This means that you will always have a certain amount of control over how the interview goes, and rehearsal will help you deal with this too.  Make a list of open-ended, dialogue probing questions to ask, and act as if the interviewer is your co-lead in the play.

In conclusion, no matter where you’re interviewing, you can vanquish nerves and fear by these few simple tips.  Feel comfortable and successful in every single interview by researching, remaining positive, and rehearsing.  Take these tips to heart, and we guarantee you will ace any interview you walk into.

Clare Saumell – Marketing Director at Ashley Ellis