Preparing for an interview

June 13, 2012 — Leave a comment

What follows is not 100% original work of my own. It is a culmination of advice from many people around the world and some recent experience I have had. Special thanks to Kevin Kermes and Greig Wells on LinkedIn for some of the inspiration to assemble this post. If you are serious about looking for a new job, need some resume help, or want to learn more about LinkedIn, look them up.


An interview can be scary for some people. There are many things you can do to prepare that should make it go smooth and in the process make you a more viable candidate for the job.


Research the company beforehand


There is absolutely no reason why you should not know as much as possible about a potential employer prior to the interview. Start off with their website. Explore every page there is to explore. Search the company out on the Internet and see what else is out there about them. Use services like Hoovers or your favorite investment website to look up financial information about them. Acquire a copy of their annual report if they are a public company. Once armed with the names of key executives, you can use those names in Internet searches to find out more about them.


Do not forget to use sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to find out about the company and their employees. Glassdoor is another good site to get opinions from employees both current and former. Take the info with a grain of salt though as these tend to be reviews from disgruntled people.


Research your interviewers beforehand


Make sure you know who will be interviewing you. Look up their profiles on LinkedIn. If you have their email address, search it on the Internet along with their name and company to see what you can learn about them. Look for things like hobbies, associations, job history, etc. a lot of what you read will help you understand their personality.


Know the competition


Make sure you understand who the company’s main competitors are. Review their corporate information to get a feel for how they operate. Look for things that differentiate the company you are interviewing with. This is especially a good item to know if you are interviewing for a sales, marketing, business development, or management position.


Verify details


Make sure you verify the date, time, and location of your interview. Make sure you know where you are going. Make sure you know where to park. Try to find out who you will be meeting so you can do your research. In case of emergency, make sure you have a point of contact you can call.


Salary research


Although not usually needed for a first interview, it is good to know before you spend a lot of time on interviews. Use something like to find out what salaries are running at companies like the one you will be interviewing with. You can search by company size, location, type of business, job title, etc. Look at several different searches and average things out. Realize this is just an average based on many different factors but it should help guide you with negotiating.


Ask questions


If possible, find out how the position became open. Is it a new position due to growth? Was someone in the position previously? Find out if that person is still with the company and if you can meet them to ask them about their work in the position. Ask that person about the challenges they faced, the rewards of the position, and what their day was like.


Do not ask questions about benefits and pay at the first interview. Focus on the company, the position. Ask the interviewer about his reasons for coming to the company.


Miscellaneous details


Get an email address from the interviewer. Send a thank you immediately after the interview. Make sure you send it from a non-work email and one that is professional sounding. Do not use or something like that.


Bring extra resumes with you and make sure you know your resume cold. Take the time to review your resume before you go in just to freshen up your mind.


Be prepared for tough questions


Be prepared to answer typical questions that come up during an interview. Have answers in mind before you go in so you don’t stammer during the interview.


  • Why do you want to leave your current employer?
  • Why did you leave your most recent employer?
  • You were laid off I see. Why you?
  • Give me an example of a tough situation you faced and how you handled it.
  • Tell me about something that did not go so well.
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Tell me about yourself?
  • Tell me about your weakness’.
  • Tell me about your strengths.
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What will your references say about you?
  • Salary history.
  • Be able to explain time spent unemployed.

While this list of questions is not complete, if you have interviewed before, I am sure you remember the tough questions. Be prepared!

Good luck out there. Feedback is welcome.


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