A few days ago we rested in the middle of number one. For a quick recap, here’s the list once more:
- Do your homework
- Know where you fit and why
- Be ready to ask questions as well as answer them
If you happened to miss our last discussion, refer back to the previous submission and get caught up in a hurry. As it is, let’s examine how company personality can be used for your advantage as you head into an interview.
We left off after highlighting company research resources available at your fingertips. Use these same resources to learn about key people in the organization, particularly the area you’re interviewing for. If you’ve been provided a contact in case you have questions, you might politely inquire as to the name or name(s) of the individuals you’ll be meeting in your interview and their titles within the firm.
Receptionists, administrative assistants, and HR personnel are very busy individuals often answering to and supporting a number of individuals in a company at once, so don’t make multiple calls to them or abuse the opportunity to communicate with them. Only call when you have gathered as much information as possible on your own. Make your inquiry short and polite, and thank them for their time and help, even if they can’t provide you the answers you’d hoped.
Career Tip #1: As a potential employee, learning as much as you can about the company is the only way you can successfully accomplish number two on our list.
Let’s take a look at number two on our list of how to prepare for an interview, “Know where you fit and why.”
Now that you’ve studied up on your future employer, have an idea how big the firm is (a team of five family members or an international conglomerate of 50,000), what’s important to them, and gained a sense of what they value and what kind of culture exists within the firm, you’ve got the information you need to figure out where you fit and why.
Career Tip #2: Being prepared shows confidence, initiative, and career readiness.
Know how to respond to expected questions such as “What led you to apply to this firm,” “What strengths do you bring to this position,” and even “Where do you see yourself in five year?”
While you can answer these questions without knowing anything about the company, consider how much better you’ll look as a knowledgeable and prepared candidate. Packed with information, imagine how much more clearly you can make your case for your being THE RIGHT INDIVIDUAL for the job if you can answer common (and no-so common) questions with specificity, using the information you gleaned in Step one!
You can probably see how Step one has also set you up to “Be ready to ask questions as well as answer them” (taking us to number three on the list).
Everyone arrives at an interview expecting to answer questions about themselves and their qualifications. And everyone interviewing for a specific position likely has very similar answers to one another (after all, you’re all up for the same job!). Visualize what that’s like for the interview, though. It’d be like watching the same scene from a movie over and over and over again.
How can you make the interview experience different for the interviewer? How can you stand out from the others interviewing with the same credentials, and same background as you have?
In addition to being able to give specific answers to your interviewer’s questions–answers that demonstrate you’ve done your homework, know about the company and know where you might fit in the company–you can also ask great questions when given the opportunity.
Very often, at the end of an interview, you’ll be asked “Are there any questions we can answer for you?” Be ready! Ask questions that help you learn even more about the company and about the position for which you’re applying. Working relationships go both ways so think of asking the right questions as an opportunity to interview the company. After all, you need to decide whether working for them is right for your future.
In effect, you’re both interviewing one another. So, when given the opportunity, have two or three great questions ready to ask that demonstrate that you’ve studied the company, care about the job, and are seriously interested in whether you’re the right fit for the position. These questions give you one last opportunity to SHOW your future employer who you are.
I know you can’t imagine NOT wanting a job! But sometimes it’s important to know that you can work for a firm and be happy.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful as you prepare for your interview! Good luck!
Presented by Kathryn Broyles, Ph.D.,
Program Director of General Studies
American Public University/American Military University
Thank you once again Kathryn, your advice is greatly appreciated. For those interested in learning more about American Public University/American Military University where they are expanding access to higher education with more than 100 affordable degrees and certificates to prepare students for service and leadership in a diverse and global society, visit their website at www.apus.edu.
Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS