I always find job interviews exhausting, whether I am the interviewer, or occasionally in the past as an interviewee. These meetings can be among the most important of your life, so it is critical to have a strategy going into it. In this post, I am going to outline three principles that are especially important for people seeking professional positions.
Read the job description.
Like any other work task, you will find individual interviewers and entire search committees who do not know what they are doing. However, most interview committees are trying to determine if you have the skills and the temperament to do the job. It is frustrating, and an interview killer if the interviewee is not intimately familiar with the job description.
It takes hours of time spread over several weeks or months to develop job descriptions, post the position various places, screen dozens of resumes, and schedule interviews. If someone comes in and has evidently not evaluated the requirements of the job and matched it with their own education and experience, then they are probably not going to get hired.
Research the company or organization.
A common question is why do you want this job, and why do you want to work for this company. If you cannot respond to this basic and foundational information, you probably just blew the interview.
In this day of easy internet searches, it is easy to get the information you need. This also allows you to ask intelligent questions yourself. For example, as part of the interview you could ask “I see the organization has had five CEO’s in the last three years, can you explain why this turnover has occurred?” If the interviewer(s) do not know the answer, or just look at each other uncomfortably, maybe you should look elsewhere for a job.
Rehearse the interview.
There are plenty of sites on the internet that list questions that are asked in interviews. In fact, some of them even suggest good answers. Some managers even go to these same sites to get their questions!
You should also rehearse your answers to questions about your own resume. This is called owning your resume. If you put “skilled in office mediation” for example, you need to be able to explain what this means, and how you got to be so skilled.
As I said above, remember that most interviewers are trying to determine if you have the skills and temperament to do the job. There is also the underlying consideration if you would be someone the interviewer(s) would want to work with. In the end, these meetings may be among the most important of your life, so be ready for them!