5 Things to Study Up on Before a First Round Interview
On the day of an interview, your goal is to convince a recruiter that you’re the best candidate for a position. You need to be able to clearly demonstrate that you have the knowledge, experience, and motivation needed to get the job done. But in order to do that well, you need to make sure you spend a little bit of time in the days leading up to the actual interview preparing yourself.
Too often, candidates expect a first round interview to be basic, believing they can put off true preparation until a later round. But this is a mistake.
It’s glaringly obvious to a hiring manager when a candidate comes in unprepared. So taking the time to look through a few pieces of information beforehand can mean the difference between making a second round interview and getting an early rejection.
Here are five areas you should be sure to study up on before your big day.
It may sound a little funny to hear that you need to study yourself on paper beforehand, but this is absolutely necessary. You know your background and your professional strengths, but can you clearly and concisely communicate that to someone who knows nothing about you?
Take some time to look over your resume and practice answering some of the questions you know they’re going to ask you, such as “Tell me about yourself,” or “Tell me why you’re qualified for this position”.
Though these questions may seem basic, not having a clear and concise answer to them can cause your interview to get off to a rocky start. You should know exactly how you’re going to answer questions like these beforehand. Run through them on your own a few times, making sure that you’re including important information and leaving out anything irrelevant. Remember, you’re demonstrating why you’re qualified for this job, not recalling your life’s story.
You won’t be the only person in the room on the day of your interview. It’s important to find out a little information on the person or people you’ll be speaking to, especially if that person is a potential manager or supervisor.
You can find out some very basic information on the interviewer by checking out their bio on the company website or by taking a look at their LinkedIn profile. You can also dig a little deeper to see if they’ve shared any recent content or have published anything themselves.
Try and identify one or two things you have in common, like alma maters or professional organizations. These can make for great conversation starters to break the ice and get the interview kick-started.
When you walk into an interview, you should absolutely know the job description like the back of your hand. These can actually be great tools for helping you prepare for an interview. Job descriptions provide insight into what the employer is expecting from you. It can also give you some clues into what you can expect from the organization in return.
Make sure that you take some time to think through how you can connect the qualifications and expectations listed on the job description to any relevant knowledge and experience you have. If you’re missing examples that perfectly fit a requirement, try and think through skills you have that are transferable. For many employers, a motivated candidate who is willing to learn can still be the right fit, even with a lack of experience.
Lastly, don’t forget to think of ways that this role can help you continue to grow. Think of two or three specific examples that you can provide to the recruiter outlining how this specific company and job align with your future career goals.
Some candidates feel they can skip this step in their preparation. Maybe you’re interviewing for a big brand that’s in the news often or maybe for a company you’ve been following for some time now. But even if you know some information on the organization you’re interviewing for, this is still an important piece to study up on.
It’s definitely important to know the company basics such as the dress code, structure, and size. These can easily be found on the organization’s website. But you should go a little bit deeper into your research. Make sure you not only understand the “what” of the company, but the “why” as well. Almost every organization has its mission and values posted on its website.
Also be sure to use outside resources for your research as well. Check for any recent news articles or press releases discussing any company changes or new offerings. And finally, try to find some information on the company culture. Sites like GlassDoor and LinkedIn are great places for this information. It may also be valuable to find someone who works at the company and find out if they don’t mind answering a few questions.
Last but not least, you need to make sure you have some understanding of the industry the company fits in. Check for any news articles or trade publications discussing the company and its industry.
This is also a great time to study up on some of the company’s competitors. Have some idea of how they fit into the industry and what they’re performance looks like. You can easily identify a company’s competitors by going to their page on LinkedIn and then scrolling down to the section called “Other Companies People Viewed”.
Take some time to study up on these five areas before your first round interview, and you’ll be ready to blow the recruiter away. Good luck!