Preparing for the Job Interview
While you may be tempted to just take a little break now until the day of your interview rolls around, this isn't the time for it. There's much work to be done as you prepare for the big day. Now is the time to learn as much as you can about the company. It is also the time to get to know yourself better as you get ready to answer the interviewer's questions.
Learning about the Company
You may have taken the time to gather some information about prospective employers as you prepared to send your resume to them. Now you need to get serious about gathering information. As each interview is arranged, begin your in-depth research. You should arrive at an interview knowing the company upside down and inside out. You need to know the company's products, types of customers, subsidiaries, parent company, principal locations, rank in the industry, sales and profit trends, type of ownership, size, current plans, and much more. You should be familiar with common industryterms, the trends in the firm's industry, the firm's principal competitors and their relative performance, and the direction in which the industry leaders are headed.
Librarians are a tremendous source of help when it comes to doing research. Visit your public library and tell the librarian exactly what you are doing. He will be able to point out the most useful resources to help you in your research. The bigger the library, the more likely you will be to find what you need.
Dig into every resource you can! Surf the Web. Read the company literature, the trade press, and the business press. If possible, speak to someone at the firm before the interview, or if not, speak to someone at a competing firm. The more time you can spend on this, the better. Even if you feel extremely pressed for time, set aside several hours for pre-interview research.
Developing Your Personal Themes
Too many job seekers jump into a full-scale search without much preparation other than putting together a resume. Be aware that this is a serious mistake! Although your resume may get you interviews, in order to win offers, you must prepare yourself a little further. It's vital to distinguish yourself in some positive way from other candidates. One way is to develop themes to which you refer throughout the interview. This enables you to emphasize your strongest points and ensures that you'll leave a positive impression.
Interviewers seek certain types of information about candidates. Knowing this and considering your responses in advance will make you feel more confident and in control. Think of your themes as sales messages. Each is designed to showcase your best skills and qualifications. Together, they make up a strategy that will enable you to sell your qualifications in virtually any interview. The topics about which you will need to establish themes include your personality, skills and abilities, professionalism and leadership, and interest in the field and in the company. The four items are among those that will be covered in depth in Chapter 14 where you will be presented with practice interview questions.
Mapping Out Your Route
One of the worst things you can do is get to your interview late. Even if the interviewer is forgiving and understands your reasons for arriving late, you will be so flustered you may not be able to present yourself as you would have otherwise.
One way to avoid arriving late for an interview is to not get lost. Plan your route in advance. You can use an online mapping service to get directions, or even just a good old-fashioned road map.
Plan some alternate routes as well, just in case of a traffic tie-up or road closure. If you are taking public transportation, get the schedules in advance and know which buses or trains you need to take. Again, plan alternate routes if possible.
By the way, if something unavoidable happens, call the interviewer to let him know you will be delayed (and apologize).
The Night Before the Interview
Prepare everything you will need on the day of the interview before you go to bed the night before. Make sure your clothes are pressed and your shoes are polished. Print out a clean copy of your resume so you can take it with you.
Get a good night's sleep the night before the interview. Don't go to bed hours before you normally would. You may not be able to get to sleep that early and that may make you more anxious. To help insure that you are able to sleep soundly, avoid caffeine for several hours before bedtime. Even those who claim not to be affected by caffeine do not sleep soundly after consuming it. Caffeine can have a heightened effect when your body is already in stress mode, so even if you don't normally have a reaction, you might have one if you are dealing with something else that is making you anxious — like a job interview, for instance.
The Day of the Interview
Give yourself enough time to get ready the day of the interview, but not so much time that you're hanging around waiting to leave your house. If your interview is in the morning, wake up early enough so that you don't have to rush around the house. If your interview is later in the day, find something to do until you have to be there. Perhaps you can meet a friend for lunch.