Job interviews generally fall into one of two categories. They are either a complete waste of time or they can be something that leads you to greatness. If you are looking for the latter, then here is the plan that I follow in order to keep #winning at job interviews.
The Week Leading up to the Interview
When it comes to wanting to nail your next job interview, the first thing you should do is outline the company’s ideal interview profile, or as I like to call it their IIP. An IIP is not the same as Ideal Candidate Profile, which is based on your skills and work history. You see, those are the things that got you the call. What I’m talking about are the things that make you look amazing during the interview and beyond.
The IIP is where you research, visualize and bullet point important notes so you can focus on learning and producing exactly what the company wants. Note, the key to doing this is thinking long term; you don’t want to pull a fast one and just be this person for the interview only.
Contrary to popular belief, picking out what you are going to wear to an interview should not be the first step in your plan. The first step needs to be a research phase because it’s nearly impossible to dress the part without knowing the details of the part you are up for!
During the research phase, you need to act like a super sleuth and find out as much as you can about the following things:
- The person(s) who will be interviewing you. Specifically find out who they are, what job they do and what they like.
- The previous person who held the position. Can you dig and find out why they left? Were they a shining star or kicked out?
- What is the actual position that you are interviewing for? Try to find out if it is a new position or existing so you can see what are you up against.
- The company, including the culture, mission, charity work and news.
This type of in-depth research takes more than just going to the company website and memorizing a mission statement. Doing that is a given, and these days with the job markets being so tight, it’s not something that you will get interview brownie points for. Also, in the research phase you can set up Google Alerts with the company name to see what kind of juicy info you can get.
Once the research phase is completed, the next step is to create a visual plan. To do this, try to make a mind map or checklist so you can clearly see what needs to be completed. Also, I highly recommend that you grab a friend and use this list to do a few practice runs.
Think of it as an interview to-do list that helps you remember everything. You need to reserve your energy for the interview so doing this will help keep the stress to a minimum. When possible you need to try and do this at least a week out from the interview as it may take you some time to secure everything you need.
On the checklist, you are going to write down the following things:
- What you need to study before the job interview.
- What you need to buy or find before the job interview.
- What you will be eating and drinking on the day of the job interview (think fresh breathe people!).
- What route you will be taking to the job interview.
- What follow-up process you will be using after the job interview.
Now compile your list and get to studying the important stuff. Don’t skimp; this isn’t cliff notes the interview version. You need to be able to uncover the things that may help you answer, or avoid, depending on what the interviewer asks of you.
Once I was invited to interview at a large animal rights organization for a dream job that I really wanted. When I made my checklist, I realized I had inherited a car with leather seats and while most people could care less about what you drive to an interview, this organization may actually care. So I looked their building up on Google Maps Street View in order to see if there was a security gate where someone would notice what I was driving. Then I was able to weigh my options and make any last minute changes to my strategy. If I hadn’t done the research, it could have ended up being pretty embarrassing for me.
The Night before the Interview
On the night before your interview, you are going to need to review your study notes again and be sure there isn’t anything left to prepare from your list. Go down the checklist slowly and again, don’t cut corners. If you followed all of the above instructions, you should have a good list of everything you need for the interview tomorrow. Pull the clothing you be wearing out of your closet and hang them in a spot where they won’t be disturbed. Be sure and grab your shoes, sock and other accessories too.
It’s now crunch time and with careful planning, you are going to be able to be 100% ready for your interview tomorrow. Remember to eat well, avoiding any foods with strong odors and get a good night’s rest.
The Morning of the Interview
On the morning of the interview, you are going to want to get up early, eat a healthy meal and check your google alerts one last time along with your bullet points. It’s been proven that positive self-talk increases confidence, so remind yourself that you are ready for this job and that you will nail this job interview.
Review your notes once more and practice your quick witted, but highly educated answers. Stay calm and know that you’ve just upped your game, and you are now officially ready for the interview.
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