The Absolute Basics of Interview Preparation

In 2011, we carried out some research. We don’t profess that it was the most scientific piece of research ever carried out, (it was based on a number of conversations that took place and their results recorded over 6 months) but its findings were pretty interesting:

- 76% of people didn’t know the full name and job title of their interviewer when asked the day before their interview;
- 72% of people couldn’t sum up the job they were being interviewed for in one simple sentence the day before their interview;
- 55% couldn’t sum up the principal business activities of the company they were interviewing at the day before their interview;
- 53% couldn’t tell us the three core requirements of the position they were interviewing for the day before their interview;
- (and yes, this one hurts) 9% couldn’t remember the name of the company they were interviewing with the day before their interview.

Shocked? Well, next time you have an interview lined up, ask yourself which of the five things we list above you can do the day before your interview. You might be surprised at how easy it is – even for the uber-organized – to overlook even seemingly basic elements of interview preparation.

Perhaps less shockingly, if we follow the patterns through…

- 36% of people who could do all of the five things above received an offer for that job;
- 21% of people who could do 3 or 4 of the things above received an offer;
- 0% of the people who couldn’t do any of the things above received an offer.

So the message is fairly simple: if you want the job, get prepared.

But what does being prepared mean? Well, it means:

1. Knowing the basics. What is the job? What do the company do? Who are you meeting?
2. Understanding the job. What’s the purpose of this job? What specific skills and experience are required in order to fulfill that purpose? How do my skills and experience fit in? How can I demonstrate that my skills and experience are able to help this company/individual achieve their aims?
3. Understanding the interviewer. What does the interviewer want to hear from me? What concerns is the interviewer likely to have? What will I have to do to convince the interviewer to recommend an offer? What is motivating the interviewer?

If – and actually it’s not easy – you can arm yourself with an understanding of the interviewer, then you will have the strongest chance of success. If you can’t do that but you can develop a strong understanding of the job, you’ll still have a very good chance. If you can’t do that – then at least knowing the basics keeps you in contention.

It is this process of preparation that you should try to follow for maximum success.

Next time, we’ll offer you some specific advice and pointers on the exact things you can do to achieve all of this. In the meantime….enjoy the long weekend!

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