Just use these 10 points to do before any interview to completely nail it:
- Breathe deeply, and try not to panic. That was easy. Phew!
- Try to set up your meeting for one full week (five business days) from the time that you first receive the call to come in. Your tendency will be to go for an earlier meeting to “get it over with”. Do not yield to this instinct. You will need the time to prepare for your meeting. (Of course, if the interviewer insists on an earlier date, graciously accept it.)
- Do your homework. Get on the Internet, and pull every article you can find about the company. Don’t just read the articles; study and dissect them. Start crafting a “master list” of questions of your own about the company, based on the information that you unearth.
- Go wider and deeper. Look up the company’s website. Obtain past Annual Reports from the organization, and review them as if your life depended on it. Buy trade publications from your field; and brush up on what the company’s competitors have been doing. Be certain to add some of this competitive information to the list of questions that you are preparing to ask in your interview.
- Call any contacts that you have from the company, and start gently picking their brains about your upcoming interview. Ask your contacts about initiatives that are taking place in the organization right now; find out about the management structure; figure out where your interviewer is on the internal “totem pole”. If you don’t know anyone in the company, call any contacts you have in competing organizations to learn what they know about the company. Go out for drinks with them at night; treat them to dinner if necessary. Do not ignore this important step!
- Review the questions and answers here thoroughly. Then, very importantly, change the answers a bit to reflect your own situation. (You never want to come off as “textbook”; rather you will need to be you, at your most charming self.) Add the questions and answers that you feel you are most likely to be asked to the “master list” of questions that you are creating.
- Write down your goal. Isn’t that simply to get the job, you ask? Yes, of course if it is, but phrase your goal in a way that is very specific to the company. “My goal is to land a job as vice president of Customer Relations at the ADR Corporation, and to make $XXX,XXX a year.” (You will know the perfect salary level based on the research you’ve already done on the organization.) Studies show that writing down goals helps people achieve them faster. Try it; what do you have to lose?
- Review your “master list” of questions, answers, company history, and competitive insights every single day until exactly fifteen hours before your interview. Lock yourself in a quiet room in your house or apartment if you have to, and ask yourself the questions (and state the answers) aloud. This simple step, which so many candidates fail to do, can help you memorize your answers in advance. Won’t that sound canned, you wonder? No, it won’t. When you really know your material, you will actually come off as sounding far more “spontaneous” in an interview.
- Decide, well in advance of your meeting, which outfit you will wear. This is to avoid any tough decisions at the last minute. Be certain that your outfit is pulled together and appropriate for the job you really want. Also, on the day of, make sure that you have showered, brushed your teeth, and have clean, well-kept nails and hair. Carry a roll of breath mints with you just in case.
- Then fifteen hours before your interview, force yourself to stop studying for it, and try to relax. Do yoga if you enjoy it, or listen to a favorite tune. Lay off the caffeine so that you can get a good night’s sleep.
Realize that you are now the best-prepared job seeker in the universe, and use your wits and charm to add some cheerfulness enjoyment to your all-important meeting.