'Prep Talk' #3 - Preparing for the Interview (The Right Way)
How do you prepare for an interview? Are you scouring the internet trying to find the right questions to ask? Are you looking for questions they may ask and how to come back strong with your answers?
That's a start.
The right way to prepare for your job interview is remember two important things:
Have CONFIDENCE and COMPETENCE.
You have to be confident and competent to walk into any interview and own it. I work with clients on assessing where they truly are BEFORE going on job interviews, or even sending out resumes for that matter.
I've seen many times over where people will walk out of an interview with more questions than answers. They tell me that they didn't know they could ask certain questions. As long as your questions aren't pertaining to protected class, then you can ask them. I take my clients through an exercise of writing down their wants. And we go to extremes. I have them write down everything they need in an ideal work situation. This serves as their requirements. This also serves as the foundation to the questions they will ask during the interview.
Why? Because you're on a fact finding mission to determine if this potential employer is one you'd want to work wth and if they truly meet your requirements for your dream job and ideal situation.
So you're scheduled for an interview, what do you do next?
Here are 3 Real Steps to Interview the Right Way.
STEP 1: Prepare
1. Is this a panel interview? What's the interview process?
Ask these questions to whomever is coordinating the interviews. Make sure you get the answer before you interview. This saves you from any surprises.
2. Find out EXACTLY who you will be interviewing with.
This is self explanatory. Do your research and silently stalk them on LinkedIn. Know who they are and who they're connected to. Do you have anything in common? Do you know any of the same people? Can you reach out to anyone to find out their personality?
This may be the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can bring with you. Lack of confidence will ruin your chances. So practice beforehand. It doesn’t matter how well prepared you think you are, how many degrees you have, or how experienced you are. You MUST convey confidence in your ability to fulfill this role AND convince them of it.
Why is confidence most important? I've personally seen where the more confident, less qualified candidate, get the job offer over the more qualified, less confident candidate get passed over.
If you want to know if the hiring manager is a control freak, ask! If you want to know what problems they're trying to solve with this position, ask! If you want to know how they support career development, ask! If you want to know what they do to support equity, inclusion, and diversity, ASK! See, the pattern here? You have every right to ask the questions you need answers to that will help you ensure that this is the company you want to work for. This may be your dream job, but is this your dream company? Your ideal manager?
The only way to know this is to get confident enough to ask the right questions. It's important to walk into an interview prepared to ask the key questions that will help you make those important decisions. There's always a professional way to ask any question you may have about the position, the manager, your co-workers, and the company.
STEP 2: OWN IT
Take control of the interview and become the interviewer. This way, you'll walk away knowing absolutely everything you need to know to make an informed decision on whether or not to accept the job offer.
Most people interview to get the job. Below, I'm showing you how to 'own' the interview and ultimately how to be satisfied in your new job.
The very first thing to remember is that YOU are in control of YOU and what YOU want. Therefore, YOU must use your skill of influence to stay in control of YOU and YOUR career. And being in control of your career means going on a fact finding mission to determine what is the best fit for you. To find out what's the best fit for you, you have to interview. You have to ask questions. Not only questions but your burning questions that will help you determine if 'this is the place I want to be?"
How do you do this? Reframe your thoughts about interviewing. Become the interviewer. Yes, become the interviewer. I'm not saying to go in there cocky and aggressive. What I am instructing you to do is to OWN it. By OWNING IT, I mean, know your stuff. Know exacty what you want. Determine your objective for the interview. Know who you're interviewing with. And get answers to your questions that will help you to determine if this is the place you want to be.
Your main objectives with any interview are the following:
Convey your value
Convey that you're a problem solver capable of solving their problem
Determine if this is a manager you'd want to work with
Determine if you have enough information to make an informed decision on whether or not you'd accept the offer once given
Determine if this is a manager you'd want to work with
It's important to take this stance so that you come out of the interview with all of the information you need to make a decision on whether this is a company you want to work for and better yet, is this the manager you want to work with.
STEP 3: ASK
Here are a few key questions you MUST ask in every interview:
What would make someone successful in this role?
You have EVERY right to answer this question. Remember, asking this question will help you tailor your responses and help to remove their doubt that you have the skills and capabilities to be successful.
What are some of your pain points?
This is a great question to ask early in the conversation. Ask this question of the leadership. Ask this of the managers, the manager's managers, and anyone you're interviewing with who's in a leadership position. You can tailor your answers around their pain points and how you will alleviate those issues. Show them, in great detail, how you will help them to be successful and how you've done this previously in your career. Remember, they're looking for a problem solver. Be that for them.
What are your expectations of the person in this role?
Ask this question of the hiring manager. This will give you a feel for their leadership. ARE they a leader? Are they unrealistic in their expectations? Take note of their body language as well. Remember, this will be your manager, someone you'll be working with closely. You want to make sure that there is a fit there. If you see any red flags, go with your gut. Continue to ask them questions based on how they respond. Go deep here. Let them SPEAK. They will reveal a ton about themselves, your co-workers, the organization, and more importantly, THEM.
What are your strategic goals for your department and how does this position align to that?
This question is a MUST!!! When you're interviewing with Directors and above, this is a 'must ask'. This is where you level up your interviewing skills. THIS is where you leave THE impression.
Lean in and let them do the talking. From their response, you should get a clear understanding of what they see for this position and where you align to that. Use their response and craft your alignment response to this. But don't over do it. State where you fit in and how this aligns with your vision of the role and your capabilities of being a high performer.
Remember, your goal is to walk away with everything you need to make an informed decision.
Do they meet your qualifications for a dream job, more than the job description? Is this a manager that you can work with?
Is this an environment that is pleasing to you?
Do you want to continue on in the interview process?
Do they have a solid career development path?
Is the company financially stable?
Did they (the department & company) meet their strategic goals in the past 3 years?
What's their 30/60/90 day plan for the person in this role? How do they support their employees?
Did they try to talk about salary BEFORE we had the interview?
Did you notice any red flags?
So let's continue the learnings ...