Job interview preparation is critical–if you hope to have a positive outcome for interviews. And why else would you be pursuing interviews?
Very few people in this world, from entry-level to senior executive, can afford to blow off interview preparation as if they’re somehow “above” it and don’t need to pay attention to it. I’ve never met anyone who could legitimately make that claim–smart job seekers at all levels know better.
Interview preparation is simply an item that should always rank at or near the top of your priorities in the job search.
Let’s see… if you blow the interview by failing to prepare appropriately, you could lose any chance at landing the position you’re aiming for. Worst case, you could leave a bad taste in the interviewer’s mouth that would kill your chances of landing any job at that company in the foreseeable future.
Is that a serious enough consequence to make you abandon any thought of leaving job interview preparation off your job search “to do” list?
Okay, I get it. There are a lot more fun or interesting things to do than buckling down to get ready for an interview. The trouble is, most of those won’t do a darned thing to help you snag your next job, much less advance your progress toward ongoing career success.
There’s probably a right way and a wrong way to bring up certain topics in an interview, and doing proper interview preparation can help you decide what the right (or best) way is for some of them. One good rule of thumb is to consider the employer first and yourself second. By that, I don’t mean that what you want necessarily matters less than what the employer wants/needs. However, putting your own desires out there first and foremost can demotivate employers in a hurry.
For example, if you focus on identifying benefits offered by the employer before you’ve gained an understanding of their needs and laid a strong foundation for the value you can bring to the organization, you’ve gotten off on the wrong foot. In that case, it’s going to be difficult at best to remedy the situation.
It’s all too likely you’ll give the employer the distinct impression that you’re self-focused and unable or unwilling to seriously consider the employer’s needs until your own wishes have been guaranteed. Start with employer-focused topics and save yours until the time is right.
I often recommend compiling a list of questions to ask employers during the interview process, in addition to considering possible answers to questions you believe the employer might ask you. The list of questions in both categories might be nearly endless, but here are a few to think about:
Ask employers: Why is this position being filled at this time? What is most critical for me to accomplish if I’m hired? Who will I be working closely with in this position? (And, can I meet them?)
Questions employers might ask: Why do you want to work for this company? Why does this position interest you? How have you handled XXX in the past? (With XXX being such things as a difficult boss or co-worker, an unhappy client, a technical crisis, etc.)
The right kind and amount of preparation can save you a lot of disappointment and possibly prevent you from experiencing the disaster of seeing a potentially great opportunity slip through your fingers during the interview. As with anything that’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.