Interview Prep, Step by Step

picture of interview I’ve had a lot of requests to publish my interview preparation guides. I send a rather lengthy (sometimes overwhelming) interview preps via email to each candidate prior to an interview. I try to warn them ahead of time but the response is always the same, “that’s, um, comprehensive.”

What can I say, I like to be thorough. Why not provide candidates with the opportunity to put their best foot forward?

So without further disclaimers here’s my interview preparation guide. Sorry, this isn’t funny.

GENERAL QUESTIONS AND PREPARATION ITEMS

1. The job of the first interview is to build value in yourself and build rapport. Provide examples of your current and past experience, your expertise, knowledge of the industry and connect with on a personal level.

2. Why do you want this job? Prepare this answer ahead of time. Focus on the positives that x company and this role has to offer as opposed to saying anything negative about your current employer. Examples might be the growth opportunities, company culture, etc.

3. Relocation (if applicable): x company is aware that the opportunity, compensation and logistics have to be right for you to make a move. If it comes up, stay focused on the positive. Stay away from saying things that would lead them to believe you truly would not relocate if all the elements aligned. They are unlikely to take you seriously as a candidate. You don’t want to cut yourself short in the process.

4. Compensation: I doubt that compensation will be discussed on a first interview. However, if asked what you are looking for in compensation here is the proper way to answer.

“I’m currently earning x$ base + x$ bonus. Total comp= approximately x$. I’m very interested in this opportunity and I’m sure x company would make me a fair offer.” THAT’S IT! No need to say another word, first person that speaks in negotiation loses. It’s understood that candidates expect an increase in pay to make a move and relocation. The interview process is all about building value in yourself, not negotiate. Your job is build value in yourself, build rapport and my job is bridge any gaps at the time of offer.

5. Top 2-3 strengths AND weaknesses. Think about these ahead of time so you’re not caught off guard.

6. Take a look at the company website to familiarize yourself with the product, aesthetic and consumer.

7. Highlight your accomplishments: Prepare at least 3-5 accomplishments you are most proud of.

BEHAVIORAL BASED INTERVIEWS

The most popular style of interviewing used by HR and hiring managers is Behavioral Based Interviews. This is based on the premise that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. For this reason, it’s critical to provide current and past examples of your experience as opposed to your opinion. Giving examples provides proof that you can not only do the job but you’ve done it or you’ve had the experience. Hence, you can hit the ground running.

Examples to prepare for: This is where I insert the key requirements or skill set the hiring manger is looking for. It’s typically something that’s not on the job description. This provides the candidate with specific examples to prepare for.

Special Instructions: Here’s where I include tailored tips based on the candidate’s strengths or weaknesses as well as the hiring manager’s personality.

Attached: I always attach the hiring manager’s LinkedIn profile. This provides the candidate with some background on the interviewer. You’d be surprised how often there are mutual connections. This is a great way to warm up the call quickly and establish rapport.

Verbal Preparation: Finally, I always offer the candidate the opportunity to connect by phone prior to the interview. Typically there are questions about how to answer a specific question if it comes up.

Sound like a lot of work? It can be. But remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.