The secret to interview success lies not only in the interview itself, but in the preparation beforehand. Research is the key. There is so much easily accessible, readily available information in the public domain and in particular online that it is unforgivable to turn up to interview without having done your homework. The challenge is as always cutting through the noise, getting the information you need to affect the positive outcome you desire.
You should approach an interview as if it were a business critical sales meeting. It is the ultimate sales pitch. Your massive advantage lies in selling a product that nobody knows as well as you do. It doesn’t matter if you have never sold before or had any formal sales training. You have had all the training in the product you could possibly have needed since the day you were born. You are already ahead before you have even begun! You just have to know how to package the product in a way that best meets your customers needs and indeed your own. First you have to know your customer.
We all love people who take an interest in us. First things first find out something about the person you are meeting. Use Linkedin, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Google, Blogs, whatever tools are at your disposal to understand more about your Interviewer. You are looking for the IceBreaker, something that can give you a “connection” with the person you are meeting. Do they support Arsenal, love Fly Fishing, have a lifelong membership to the Bay City Rollers Fan Club, collect stamps, have every single episode of 24 on DVD or have read the complete works of William Shakespeare?
You are looking for an Icebreaker, something that connects you with your audience on that long walk from the reception area. You are looking to engage with your audience. Remember the age-old adage that you only get one opportunity to make a good first impression. Agreed its important that you don’t come across as a Stalker, but a comment such as ” I see from your Tweets you are a big Cricket fan” can open up an early conversation that relaxes you and your customer (the interviewer) and establishes a very different tone to the conversation. The impact of such a connection should not be underestimated. We all love to talk about subjects that we are passionate about and you have just left a lasting impression.
You may want to give this more of a business feel. Review the company website. Is there a Bio on your interviewer? Do they feature in any of the company news items or press releases? Can you gain background information on their career history from Linkedin? A great question to ask can focus on asking your Interviewer what it was that attracted them to Company X from Company Y? If they have worked their way through the organisation from a trainee position, you may want to comment on the fact that this is clearly an organisation that offers opportunities and invests in its people.
Remember in most cases the interviewer is as nervous as you are. Finding that IceBreaker can settle not only your nerves but theirs as well, whilst the interviewer makes a mental note that you are prepared, resourceful, interested, a “people” person and numerous other positive attributes before the process is even under way.
Next time I will talk about the importance of researching the company or organisation you are interviewing with. For the time being, happy researching, you’ll be amazed just what you can find out!