1. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
You need to arm yourself with background and knowledge of the company and the hiring manager(s) that you will be meeting with. (I wrote an entire blog on this – read it here.) You would be surprised at how many people still don’t do this! Those people you know that get offers everytime they interview? They are definitely doing this.
- Study your resume and write down items from your past that are pertinent to the job. This helps you remember them during the actual interview.
- You also need to prepare for the “dress code” of the interview. A good recruiter (that’s me…) will help you understand the proper dress code for the type of interview you are going on. Make sure you dress for success, but don’t ever dress down or too far up for an interview.
2. Have a clear “Value Proposition”
This is what you bring to the table and how you are going to be an asset that the company can’t live without. You need to have this memorized and easy to explain. Along with that, you need to know what you are looking for in the next move:
- You need to have a deep understanding of what your qualifications are and how those transfer to a different type of role or if you are changing industries, how they transfer from one to the other. This is hard to do, but if you can, find yourself a mentor to help you with this.
3. Do mock interviews
I know this sounds so blah, but this works! You need to find someone that you trust isn’t going to hurt you, but will also give you constructive criticism to help you improve. I find that a great mentor that is a few steps above or ahead of you will help.
- You should take great notes about what they think of you as an interviewee and try to improve or apply suggestions as much as possible.
4. Study your industry.
You should have 4-5 talking points about the industry that you could talk to with anyone at any given time to make small talk. (Much more productive than babbling about the weather or the game.)
- Be familiar with current headlines and news stories about the company or about the industry. As an example, right now the current president is changing a number of regulations in many industries that will affect the country as a whole. Read those stories and some opinions from “experts” and most importantly make sure you have your own opinions to go along with.
- One caveat to this is: don’t go to the extreme side of anything. Stay away from anything super controversial or divisive, and keep your comments unbiased.
5. Practice, we talkin’ about practice…
So, I am the person that drives you crazy at the grocery store and talks to you about the random things in the news lately. I do this so I get better at not just having small talk, but MAKING small talk happen. In every position, you have to be able to talk intelligently about your given field, but if you are trying to grow with an organization, they want to see how you can bring the industry specific knowledge to the everyday people of the organization as well.
- Think about this, if you’re an IT person trying to grow to a more senior level role or a leadership role, you have to be able to talk with people intelligently about worldly stuff. You also have to be able to bring that industry knowledge and share with outside people and other departments how your department will affect them and how you are going to help the organization grow.
- Again, that is why I practice at the grocery store. Heck, any store for that matter. I bring up relevant topics and try to get someone engaged in the topic so I get better at talking with “unknown” people. Everyone could get better at this.
- I am not saying do this every time you are out somewhere, but this helps you especially before an interview, as it helps get the jitters out so it feels more natural when you talk to the hiring manager that you don’t know either.
For more great topics on interviewing and finding the best talent, check out my other posts.