When you're walking into an interview, you're probably thinking about how you'll answer the interviewer's questions. Although this is a big part of whether or not the company will hire you, there is a lot more to an interview than just answering questions. It's important that you do not forget to prepare for the interview in more ways than simply practicing your responses in advance.
Here are six ways to ensure that you adequately and confidently prepare for all facets of your next interview:
1. Dress Not Only for the Part, But Also for the Culture
Check out the company's website and seek it out on social media. You should be able to find candid shots of employees in the office via one of those channels. If you see that everyone is wearing jeans and t-shirts, then you'll know not to show up in a three-piece suit.
On the other hand, if you see that the company has a casual work environment, that doesn't mean you get to wear jeans and a t-shirt yourself. A general rule of thumb is to get a feel for the culture and imagine what you think the employees would wear if they were asked to step it up for an important meeting. If that means a suit and tie, then that's what you should wear. With more casual companies, khakis and a polo or slacks and a button-down shirt should do the trick.
2. Research the Company and the Position
Going to the company's website is not enough. You have to be thorough. Has the organization won any awards recently? Is it in the news? Has it launched any new products? Is it known in the industry for giving back, or for being a fast-paced work environment?
If you find anything that makes the company unique, be on the lookout for ways to bring that up during the interview. If you can find a way to reference the company's mission or comment on a recent organizational achievement while answering a question, you'll look wonderful.
Make sure that you look into the position as well. If you can find out what the position is beyond just the job description, try to do that, as it will give you an advantage in the interview. Be sure to check your network. Do you know anyone in the company? If so, you can ask them for more information about the position. If you see someone with a similar job title to that of the posted position, you might also be able to do research on that person to get a better understanding of what the role might be like.
3. Reach Out to Your Network to See If You Have Any Contacts at the Company
This is not necessarily so you can ask them to put in a good word for you. Rather, it's a chance to ask for tips on how you can do well during the interview. For example, if you know the company places a high value on giving back, then you can highlight your volunteer experience. If the company prides itself on using the latest technology, you can highlight that you make it a point to further your knowledge by going to conferences and attending training sessions.
4. Learn Your Own Resume
It's surprising how many people have trouble accurately recalling the information they wrote in their resumes during a job interview. Bring a copy of your resume for yourself in case you need to refer back to it – or better than that, memorize each highlight so that you can talk about them if they come up.
It's also a good idea to take the opportunity to make sure your LinkedIn matches your resume. This will help ensure that you haven't missed anything, and it may even jog your memory about past awards or certifications that you can bring up in the interview.
5. Come With a List of Questions.
Types of questions I like to ask during interviews include:
- What does success look like in the first six months?
- Why is the position vacant?
- Is there something that the ideal candidate has that you're not seeing from me?
- What do you love about this company?
It's important to ask questions because an interview is a give-and-take between an employer and candidate — you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. That said, the first round interview is not the appropriate time to ask questions about salary and PTO, but it is the right time to ask questions about whether it's the right place to further your career.
Don't leave the room without asking questions. Even if they interviewer has answered every question you prepared ahead of time, find something to ask. If you leave without asking a question, most interviewers will see this as a red flag.
6. Get Contact Information – and Follow Up
This is a really simple tip, but sending a quick thank-you note to those who interviewed you is a good habit, and it will leave a good impression on them.
Prepping for interviews can certainly be stressful, but paying attention to the details – before and after the interview – is what will land you the job. When you dress the part, do the research, contact your network, learn your resume, and bring thoughtful questions, you'll be able to walk into the room with total confidence.
Meghann Isgan is an HR consultant working at One Click.