In-Person Interview Prep
Similarities of Interviewing and Acting
Imagine going to a live performance - Broadway or Off-Broadway performance - whose actors and actresses had never prepared or rehearsed. The result would be catastrophic failure; audience members would leave as quickly as they arrived.
Lack of preparation and rehearsal equates to lack of sincerity and lack of confidence. Without sincerity and confidence, few will trust you and your chances of earning the job offer are slim to none.
Now translate the aforementioned to your upcoming job interview. It's crucial you thoroughly study the employer, be prepared to discuss your work history, prior accomplishments, professional behaviors and career aspirations.
Be prepared for tough interview questions or red-flags on your resume. Most importantly, prepared to be honest - it always works in your favor. Like anything in life, the better you prepare, the better the result. #beprepared #benatural #crushit
Step One - Anatomy of the Interview (!)
The better you understand the different steps or phases of the interview, the better you perform. Consider the anatomy of the interview.
One important note before we get into details. Be early to your interview. Do *not be late for your interview.
- The Beginning. This consists of small talk; breaking the ice. So enjoy your chit-chat while paying attention to the interviewer's cues. As soon as the interviewer asks a question like, “tell me about yourself,” the beginning has officially ended. Leave the small-talk and focus on the next stage - Q&A.
- The important point - relax and be natural. The reason we small talk is to find our rhythm before getting down to brass-tacks.
- The beginning typicallly ends with the interviewer asking something like, "So tell me about yourself?" That's your cue to stop small-talking and start interviewing.
- The Middle. This consists of interviewers and interviewees asking questions or clarifications, then sharing responses. We liken this stage to a "friendly" tennis match - after all, all parties are hoping for a great fit! Remembering the same will add to your comfort and confidence.
- To perform well in this stage you need to have predicted and prepared for the interviewer's questions, which are largely drawn from the position description and your resume. Study those two documents along with thorough company research to perform well in this stage. Do your homework and then rehearse - rehearse and rehearse.
- You also need to prepare your responses to questions of which you have no previous experience with. For example, the interviewer asks a question about a process or technology you haven't used in your careers, so how do you respond? Good responses look like demonstrating the ability to get answers and learn on-the-fly, coupled with your desires to grow. After all, who wants a job without any opportunity to grow and learn.
- Prepare your questions. We like questions as to better understand your role, reporting structure, who you will work with, success factors and how you will interact with internal and external customers. Getting this perspective will offer needed clarity around your role and help you better determine your interest in working there. The same will also give the interviewer more confidence in your candidacy.
- Recap. The interviewer asks questions and you reply with perspective on your previous experiences, opportunities to learn and grow and then your questions around the role, working environment, etc.
- The End.
- Collect business cards for your post-interview thank you notes.
- Be thankful and appreciative for the time and clarity around the role career opportunity.
- Very importantly, be sure you show enthusiasm for the job; let them know you want to join their team! Seal the deal and get the offer by showing some polished enthusiasm. When all things are equal, hiring managers will hire those candidates he feels are most enthusiastic for the opportunity.
Step Two - Study
Learn all you can about the organization a couple days in advance. Go to our client’s website and thoroughly review the “about us” section. Thoroughly review the same and more as to get a *good feel for their clients, products/services and market position.
Don’t leave the website until you really get them - understand what the do and the like. Carefully review product/service, market position, leadership team, key-differentiators and the like. What are they all about and how do they provide value to their customers? What makes them different from their competition? We suggest reviewing GlassDoor and Google results as well.
Accomplishments. Be prepared to describe your greatest accomplishments. Study your resume and think back over the course of your career. College-grads, review internships, academic experiences and the like.
Be Tough on Yourself. Research tough interview questions around quota performance and lessons learned. Be prepared to discuss any gaps in your work history along with any other potential red-flags on your resume - consider: skills, career progression, tenure, academic experiences and et al.
Step Three - Questions and Answers
Tell me about yourself? Being able to summarize "yourself" might be the single most important question to prepare for and rehearse. Often the first question asked by prospective employers, being comfortable with your response sets up the balance of your interview for success.
- Why are you considering leaving your current job? Be positive.
- What interests you about this opening?
- Show me your quota performance and commission reports. Be prepared to overview prior performance.
- Why do you want to work in (sales, accounting, IT, etc)?
- What are your primary strengths and weaknesses?
- What experience do you have doing _______?
- What motivates you?
- Why is there a gap in your work history?
- Can you think of a recent problem in which old solutions wouldn’t work?
- What would the person who likes you least in the world say about you?
- Why should we hire you?
- What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
- Have you ever had a supervisor challenge your behavior?
- Describe a time when you were part of a project or planning team that could not agree.
- If you could change one thing about your last job, what would it be?
Very importantly. Remember you are there to interview them as well! Interviewees often get so caught up in preparing to make a great impression that they lose sight of interviewing the employer as to ensure you want to take the job.
As for best preparing responses - be honest and be prepared to give details.
Step Four - Practice and Rehearsal
- Option 1: Enlist a family member, friend or partner to play the role of interviewer, and ask that she stay in character from start to finish. Set up a space, such as a desk or table, where you can create a suitable setting. You can also simulate telephone interviews, telephone role-plays and more using the same concept - a mock interview and staying in character.
- Option 2: At the very least, rehearse responding to anticipated questions multiple times prior to your actual interview. It’s crucial to your success.
Important note for sales professionals. Be prepared to discuss why you want this opportunity and your motivations for being a sales professional. What your current quota is and where you stand. Your capabilities around things like cold calling, phone work, maintaining quota, a 30-60-90 day plan and how you manage prospects into active clients.
Close the deal. The difference between an offer and being forgotten is often whether or not you ask. For non-sales candidates, this can seem a little forward--even uncomfortable. But, you didn’t come this far to be forgotten!