Congrats, your hard work has paid off! After all of the effort you put into updating your resume, perfecting your portfolio, and applying to jobs, you finally land an interview with a company you’re excited about. Now comes the most critical part; proving to the hiring manager why you’re the best choice for the position.
“Landing an interview is definitely an accomplishment, but you still have a lot of work to do if you want to walk away with a job offer,” says Anjelica Jones, a Staffing Manager within The Execu|Search Group’s Creative/Digital division. “You only get one chance to make a strong impression on a prospective employer, so the interview is not the time to wing it. If you want to make it to the next step in the process, you need to lay the ground work for a successful meeting.”
For those in need of a quick check list for success, here are 6 ways to prepare for every stage of the interview process:
Before the interview…
Do your homework: To learn more about a company’s origins, growth over time, and outlook for the future, a company’s website is always a great place to start. However, you can take your research a step further by searching for the latest company news, reading online reviews, and perusing social media profiles. Not only will you get a better feel for their reputation and current portfolio of work, but you’ll also have a better sense of whether you fit into the company’s culture.
Look up your interviewer on LinkedIn: In addition to researching the company, you’ll want to utilize LinkedIn to learn more about the people you are meeting with. “It’s always helpful to have a sense of your interviewer’s background and how their role fits in with the company, but also look out for shared interests,” advises Anjelica. “If you have a skill or connection in common, you can leverage it to leave a more lasting impression.”
Know your work/portfolio: To ensure you can position yourself as the best candidate for the opportunity, you need to have a strong understanding of the role before you walk into the meeting. “An inability to articulate your work and how it relates to the opportunity at hand can significantly hinder your chances of receiving an offer,” warns Anjelica. “Avoid this faux pas by taking the time to review your resume and/or portfolio, and selecting a handful of skills and experiences that relate to the job. These examples can serve as talking points for proving you are the right fit.”
If applicable, you’ll also want to bring a pdf backup of your portfolio to the interview. This will ensure you still have something to show the hiring manager if any unanticipated technical glitches arise.
The day of the interview…
Arrive 10-15 minutes early: When mapping out your travel route, plan on arriving 10-15 minutes ahead of schedule. Not only will this give you an extra moment to collect your thoughts and get organized, but it also shows that you are respectful of your interviewer’s time.
Stay on track: In the early stages of the interview process, try to keep your focus on proving you are the right fit for the role as well as the company culture. Comments or questions about compensation, benefits, and, if relevant, assignment length should be saved for later on in the process, or when you receive an offer.
Ask questions: Asking questions not only shows your interviewer that you are engaged in the conversation, but also gives you the opportunity to evaluate your level of interest in the position. “Remember, an interview is a two-way street,” advises Anjelica. “As you do your company research, prepare a few questions pertaining to the specific position and the company culture.”