My friend Miranda called me recently the day before an interview. She had only recently begun her job search. And she had done virtually no interview preparation.
Good news: A well done resume paid off and she had an interview the next day.
Bad news: With three to four hours travel time, she only had a couple of hours to actually prepare for the interview. And she hadn’t interviewed in years.
She needed to put her best foot forward. So we hammered out a “3-Hour Interview Prep” plan she would work in the limited time she had. Here are the 3-R’s of 3-Hour Interview Prep.
Quick update: Miranda got the job!
Hour 1: RESEARCH
Take the first hour to do all the research on the employer you can find.
The Inside view:
- Check the organization web site to get as much detail as you can on the organization, the mission, the leadership, the products and the financials.
- Check LinkedIn for company information, job postings, career paths of employees, and profiles on anyone you’ll be interviewing with.
- Check Facebook for organization or product fan pages, groups or other pertinent information.
The External view:
Google the company for news feeds, press articles or controversy or praise.
Identify key competitors (if appropriate) and key customers.
Distill your findings:
- Come up with a quick summary about the most salient points you discover. Define your point view on them and their work. Get clear on what you know, and why you want to work there.
- Come up with five to seven good questions for the employer based on your research.
- Identify what you’d like to know about the interviewers and their experience in the company. Include this on your list of questions.
Payoff : The first question they asked was, “Tell us what you know about the company and why you want to work here.” She was able to give them a concrete, well thought out point of view about them, and why she wanted to work there, in spite of her short prep time. They were impressed.
Hour 2: REFLECT
Use this hour to brush up on you. Scrutinize the job description, skills and competencies the job requires. What deliverables and outcomes does the employer expect?
- Create your five to seven behavioral stories that showcase your skills, abilities and prior results. Align your stories to showcase standard interview questions, and, the qualities that the employer is looking for in the position post.
- Write down 25 things you want the organization to know about you.
Get your salary requirements in hand, in case you are asked.
- Pull materials together you want to bring to the interview: Multiple copies of your resume, notebook and pen, and business cards.
- Pull together any work product you may want to share.
- Coordinate your wardrobe when you’re done with your other research.
Payoff: Miranda commented on this part, “It really got me into the mindset of thinking about me, and what I offer. Listing the 25 things really shifted my focus – quickly – to prepare to talk about myself in value-added terms.”
Hour 3: RECITE
Now you start visualizing the live situation and verbalizing your thoughts. Use your third hour to practice your delivery.
- Review your behavioral stories, aloud. Repeat four or five times. Then start telling them in your natural voice, using inflection and tone as you would in a comfortable conversation.
- Read the 25 things you wrote out loud. Get comfortable talking about your competencies and skills. Go through the list and then start at the top again, and again.
- Take what you’ve learned in hour 1 and start talking out loud, as if you were telling a friend about this organization. Talk about what you learned in your research.
- Talk about why you want to work there.
- If you haven’t been interviewing in a while, you have to learn to talk about yourself. In the interview, you don’t want to be “composing and delivering,” you want to be delivering great responses.
Payoff: Miranda felt her delivery was very smooth. Since she had stumbled over a couple of questions in practice when she called me, she could see the difference even an hour of practice made.
The Bottom line
Even without a lot of time to prepare you CAN put your best foot forward in an interview. Don’t let a quick turnaround throw you off your game. Just focus up and work fast.
What have YOU done to prepare for an interview in short order?
Need help with YOUR next interview? Go here and see what we can make happen.