These tips are from a recent seminar I led for DCWebWomen but are useful to anyone in job search.

Remember, each interview is a two-way street!
Balance your desire to sell yourself for the job with your need to learn enough to know if it is the right job.

Interview Preparation

1. Review all the materials you have already submitted.

2. Consider which of your success stories are most likely to be useful for this opportunity.

3. Check and update your research. Look for new plans or changed circumstances. Some aspects you should have researched plus those to do now:

  • What is the strategy? the vision? mission?
  • Current trends in revenues, market share, competitors?
  • What are the critical issues facing the organization?
  • What is the culture?
  • Who are the people you are interviewing with? Hiring manager?

4. Prepare questions to ensure you have all the information you will need to make a good decision.

5. Be comfortable you know where you are going and how to get there. Have paper copies of your resume plus a notebook and pen with you. A copy of your portfolio is often valuable.

The Phone or Email Interview

This is a basic screening step. The interviewer is trying to find out:

  • do you meet the minimum requirements
  • how you present yourself
  • whether it is worth the time to bring you in, and
  • sometimes, whether you are in the pay range

The In-Person Interview

The interviewers are trying to find out only three main issues:

  • Can you do the job: knowledge, skills, attributes relevant to the position
  • Will you do the job: Interest, motivation, enthusiasm, dependability
  • Fit with the organization: attributes, personal style to succeed there

Most of their questions are likely to be behaviorally-based or strengths-based.

Behaviorally-based questions typically ask for your previous specific experiences and focuses on your actions and results.

Strength-based questions look at how you like to work, the interests you have, the environment and culture you need, or your motivation.

Your Questions

In any interview, you should ask questions. These should be designed to help you assess the opportunity in relation to your goals. And you want to know what the next steps and timing are, so you can follow-up as needed.

Good questions include those about:

  • the goals and future plans of the organization/function
  • the short-term and next year goals of the hiring manager
  • issues tied to your own specific goals and needs
  • management style of your supervisor
  • what constitutes success or high performance in the position
  • how you will be evaluated in both the short term and the first year
  • any items or issues critical to your decision – such as their career development opportunities, growth, etc.

Your questions should be an outgrowth of your research. And remember that they tell the interviewer about what is important to you and your professionalism as well as getting you information you need.

Sample questions:

  • What are the ‘critical few’ objectives for this position in next 6 months? Year?
  • How are the key projects related to:  critical business issues,  operations/business plan
  • How will performance be measured? Timetable?

Follow up!

Send thank-you emails or notes to each person you interviewed with.

After the waiting period, call or email to remind of interest and ask if need any further info. You can do this 2-4 times over several weeks after an in-person interview.  Be positive!  Stuff happens in organizations and hiring decisions get delayed.