My sense is if you’re reading this, you’re already taking steps necessary to get ready for the interview. Fifty percent of a successful interview whether over the phone or in person, is proper preparation ahead of time.
Preparation looks different for everyone, but first you should have a solid grasp of the following, before stepping into the interview:
- Company address (no, I’m not joking)
- Who you’re talking to
- What their title is and where they worked previously (available on LinkedIn)
- What you’ll be interviewed about
- How long it is scheduled for
- What the next step is after the interview assuming it goes well
- IF you need to prepare anything ahead of time
- Who else might have the job you’re interviewing for and how their background compares to yours
So now, you might thing, “jeesh…this is a grocery list of items I need to know…” and you’re right. It’s kind of a shitload of info to gather ahead of the interview BUT this will be your only chance at this interview, so why not be prepared? The time you spend in preparation will payoff 10x when it comes time to the offer stage.
What don’t you know about the interview?
If you’re talking with the actual hiring manager, the interview will be very different than if you’re speaking with a recruiter or someone from HR. If that’s the case, skip to the next section. If not, read on.
The HR or Recruiter person is a gatekeeper.
They are your first line of defense you’ll need to convince. And not only convince, but prepare them with information they might need to convince the actual hiring manager on the other end. HR doesn’t know what you do, and they don’t really want to. As interesting as you might sound, they’ve done a ton of these phone calls and they all sound the same.
You DON’T need to stand out with HR, but you do need to have the right answers to their questions.
So what’s the right answer? Ask them. No kidding, really. Ask them what they’re looking for. By clarifying their question before answering, you can tailor your answer to what they’re really looking for. They’re generally given a requirements ‘nice to have’ list that isn’t listed in the job description.
You want to know what these items are before you answer their questions so you can address them directly.
For example, if they ask, “how many years of experience do you have in project management?” – you can probably assume they’re looking for someone with PM experience.
You don’t need to clarify that question. BUT if they ask the question, “tell me about a time you dealt with a large project and had to overcome challenges with it.” it’s a little less clear what they’re after.
These behavioral questions are the worst. They have so many different components to them, how they hell are we supposed to know what kind of answer you’re looking for? Look for ways to dig into their questions to clarify what it is they’re really after. You can always follow up with, “does that answer your question?” to confirm you’ve answered to their satisfaction.
Simply put, they’re your gatekeeper. Be nice, ask good questions, show your genuine interest.
Hiring Manager Interviews
These are fun. Now you’re getting somewhere. Your hiring manager will get you an unfiltered view of the job and the actual role they’re hiring for. If they like you, they’ll even help provide helpful insight that will help you in the in person interview step later on. Don’t be surprised if this interview isn’t as structured or is setup in a super formal way.
This person is trying to answer two main questions: 1. Can I work with this person? 2. Can this person do the job?
You want to make them think “yes” to both of these questions, regardless. Decide later if you actually like them and the job/company.