As an administrative professional, you know that being prepared is a major component of your ability to do your job well. Therefore, this concept shouldn’t be any different for an interview! “Before any of my candidates go for an interview with any of our clients, I always set up a 20 – 30 minute call with them to make sure they are adequately prepared,” explains Kim Caruso, Director of The Execu|Search Group’s Office Support & Human Resources divisions. “Part of this preparation includes knowing what steps to take before, during, and after the interview to show you are the most qualified candidate for the job.”
For those who need a quick tutorial, here are 9 tips that Kim frequently gives her candidates:
Before the Interview
- Do your homework: In addition to researching the company’s website and looking for articles about the company online, it’s important to check out the people you are meeting with on LinkedIn. This will allow you to get a sense of their backgrounds and how their role fits in with the company, and see if you have anything in common with them that you can incorporate into the interview in order to build a rapport.
- Brainstorm: Make a list of your top 10 strengths (with examples of how you use them), 5 accomplishments you’ve made throughout your career, and some examples of challenging situations that you handled successfully. “Remember, in an interview, your job is to sell yourself without repeating what is listed on your resume,” warns Kim. “Having this information to draw upon will help you accomplish this.”
- Do a mock interview: Whether you ask a friend for help, or talk to yourself in the mirror, it’s important to have a practice interview before the real thing. Kim advises candidates to run through some common, but tricky questions such as, “why did you leave/are you looking to leave your most current role,” and “what is your biggest weakness.”
- Be cognizant of the way you present yourself: “In such a competitive job market, every impression you make counts,” warns Kim. “From the security guard to the receptionist, treat everyone with the same level of professionalism as you would the actual interviewer.” Kim also suggests arriving 10-15 minutes early to give yourself enough time to collect your thoughts and get organized (put your coat/any extra bags away) before the interview.
During the Interview
- Be enthusiastic: Regardless of whether or not you think the opportunity is for you, it’s important to let your enthusiasm and personality shine through for the entirety of the interview. “Smile, actively listen and participate in the conversation, and sit upright,” explains Kim. “Ultimately, whether or not you take the role should be your decision, not the interviewer’s. However, to accomplish this, you have to get their approval first.”
- Gain control: A great way to gain control of the interview and be proactive about explaining why you’re the right fit for the role is to strategically ask the interviewer questions about what skills one would need to be successful in the position. Use their answer to explain how you meet these requirements and are the right person for the job.
- Ask questions: Asking questions not only shows your interviewer that you have been actively listening and are engaged in the conversation, but also gives you the opportunity to evaluate whether or not this is the right job for you. Kim advises candidates to ask a variety of questions that stem from some information you found through your research and targeted towards assessing the company culture.
After the Interview
- Ask for feedback: At the conclusion of the interview Kim advises her candidates to ask for feedback on their background and whether or not the hiring manager feels they would be a fit for the role. “This allows you one final opportunity to sell yourself and/or address any concerns that the hiring manager may have about your eligibility,” says Kim.
- Follow up: Within 24 hours of the interview, follow up with a thank you note. A good thank you note is personalized, expresses your gratitude, references something that came up during the interview, and concisely reiterates why you are a good choice for the role.