Prepare for the Interview
- Research the Organization
- Know the Position
- Refine Your Story
- Review Your Application
- Develop Questions for the Interviewer
As you prepare for the interview, investigate the organization's mission, vision, and culture. As an applicant, you will want to know whether you are a "mission fit" and "culture fit" and if so, be able to clearly articulate this "fit" in your interview.
Collect organizational information, including any trends or current events, from the company website, annual report, press releases and your contacts in the company or industry. Arrange an informational interview with your networking contacts to enhance your knowledge of the career field and industry.
Understand who the ideal candidate is for the position to which you are applying. Thoroughly review the description for the position and use it to anticipate the set of skills and qualities desired by the hiring manager.
Take careful note of any key words and phrases, especially if they are mentioned more than once. Armed with this information, you will be able to persuasively relate your experiences and skills to the position.
Engage in active self-reflection to describe who you are, what you can offer and how you will contribute to the organization. In conceptualizing your story, think about how certain experiences and opportunities have shaped you and your career trajectory. Your offerings include skills, strengths and individual personality traits.
Be prepared to articulate your story in a way that demonstrates an understanding of the organization's needs and how you will fulfill them.
Make sure you are familiar with all of the application materials you submitted and be able to elaborate on each component, particularly the information described on your resume. On the day of the interview:
• Bring 2-3 extra copies of your resume and cover letter.
• Bring a typed list of references to offer at the end of the interview if it feels right.
Based on your research of the company and understanding of the position, formulate a list of questions that cover topics of interest to you. Your questions can range from the logistics of the interviewing and hiring process (e.g., "What is the next step in your selection process?") to broader, more complex subjects (e.g., "What are the current goals of the company?"). Refrain from asking for information that can be gleaned from the company website or questions relating to salary, vacation or other benefits until you are offered the position. Instead, ask informed questions that reveal your understanding of the position, organization and industry. This is your opportunity to impress the interviewer with your knowledge and illustrate your commitment to the position. Sample questions for the interviewer include:
• What are the organization's strengths?
• What are some areas it is seeking to improve?
• What do you consider to be the most challenging aspects of this position?
• How would you describe the work environment?
• Are there opportunities for advancement or professional development?
• What skills and experiences are you looking for in an ideal candidate?