Monday, August 17, 2009

5 Steps To A Successful Interview

It’s no secret that today’s job market is filled with people that are as skilled and qualified as yourself. Interviews are becoming an intense competition, and you need an edge to rise above your competitors. In order to succeed, you have to show the interviewer that you not only have the skills to do the job, but you want this opportunity more than anyone else.

Here are 5 steps that can help you make that winning impression.

1) Know as much (or more) about the company as the interviewer. Google is a powerful tool for interview preparation. Research the company, its products/services, the CEO, and the names of the people you are meeting with. Researching will not only improve your understanding of the organization, but your knowledge will also show your enthusiasm to your interviewer. Additionally, when you research folks you are meeting with, you may find some things that impress you about their success or perhaps things you have in common. These valuable tidbits can easily turn the tide from a formal interview, to a friendly discussion.

2) Have your career plan in hand. Organizations are looking for employees that have a drive to succeed and a passion a career in their Company. An interviewer may try to learn your goals by asking you “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Prepare for this by writing down your goals and put a timeline to them. Regardless of your dreams, make sure you know exactly where you want to go, and when you want to be there. Many studies have shown that people with defined goals, have a much higher success rate than those who don’t plan. This shows the interviewer that you are in that successful category

3) Reconfirm the date/time/location of your interview. In the age of digital calendars, it’s not uncommon for people to be overbooked and double scheduled without realizing it. Reach out to the person you scheduled your interview with just to make sure schedules haven’t changed, and that a different time may work better for the interviewer. The last thing you want is an interview that has to end early due to another meeting!

4) Have your 10 best questions memorized, and be ready to ask more as things come up. One of the worst things you can do in an interview is to not ask questions. A lack of questions will ultimately give the impression that you aren’t interested, and don’t really care about the opportunity. Think about these questions ahead of time. Don’t ask the same old boring questions that everyone asks. For example, compare these two sets of questions:

a. “What is your vacation policy?” What is your health plan?” “Do you have a 401k?” “Do you provide training?” “How big is my expense account”?”

b. “What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 6 months? The first 2 years?” “Where will this company be in 5 years, and how will those goals affect this position? ” “What is the process for setting annual goals?” “What are the key challenges for someone to be successful in this role?”

The difference in these questions, and the impression they make is quite different. Focus your questions on success, and your interview will be more successful!

5) Practice closing the deal. Add up the previous steps, and they all lead to this last item. In this competitive environment, if you want the job, you have to ask for it! You don’t want to get passed over because the interviewer didn’t think you were excited about the opportunity. As the interview closes, it’s time to pull together your company research, the questions you have asked, and your career goals. You need to point out why you would be successful in this position, and why this company is one that you really want to work for. Have this 30 second speech well thought out – and don’t forget to include a comment about how disappointed you would be if you weren’t given this opportunity!

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