Don’t Just Wing It! Prepare For Each Interview

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Over the years, I have seen some pretty strange stuff in the interview arena. One of my favorites is the time we were interviewing candidates for a transitional CEO for a high-tech organization. The company had been struggling and we were looking for a highly talented, people-oriented leader with similar industry experience and demonstrated turnaround expertise. The candidate, Greg, was meeting with me first and the interview started off normally, but then things got a little off track. As Greg started to answer my questions, he stood up and began to pace back and forth in front of my desk. It was so unusual I just continued and thought let’s see where this goes. He then proceeded to walk behind my desk and peer over my shoulders looking at my interview notes. Not only is this highly inappropriate, but it was also rather uncomfortable for me – the interviewer. I had to ask him several times to step away from my desk, much in the fashion a police officer might ask a car thief to “please step away from the car?” and return to his seat.

As you might suspect, Greg did not make it past me to meet the executive team. Now you are probably thinking, hey everyone knows not to do that, but since we frequently see some interesting candidate behavior (that we wish our candidates wouldn’t do in front of the client) we thought we would start with a little humor.

Every first impression counts and the on-site interview is another important opportunity to make your best impression. There are multitudes of books written on how to best prepare for an interview complete with questions to expect. We think these resources are fantastic and highly recommend you get a couple of these books to review and study prior to your interviews. However, for this article we are going to focus on appearance and how to prepare for the interview.

Your Appearance Does Count

Don?t be fooled – your appearance is very important. Be prepared to look your best. Double check on what is appropriate attire for your interview, and for almost every professional interview, wear a great looking suit. As a reminder, dress this way for your Recruiter, Human Resources and the hiring team too! You want a collection of positive impressions – not just one.

Prepare, Prepare!

It is probably safe to assume that at some level you are going to be asked some of the standard questions all interviewers like to ask such as:

  • Can you tell me a little about yourself?
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • Could you describe a typical day at your last job?.
  • Can you describe your best supervisor?
  • How would your last supervisor describe you?

These seem like easy questions right? They are on first glance, but sometimes under pressure or in a new situation candidates simply go blank, or find themselves providing the deadly TMI – (too much information). By preparing and practicing your answers ahead of time, even if you are given slight variations of these questions you will be way ahead of the game and will perform much better under pressure. We recommend practicing 25 or so standard questions along with other questions you think you might be asked with your family, friends, and/or trusted colleagues.

Success Tip. When you are practicing your standard interview questions, try to be as genuine and natural with your responses as possible. Your goal is to have your answers sound genuine and well-thought out, but not rehearsed.

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