The Playbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Perfect Interview
In the last few years, I’ve had dozens and dozens of in-person and over the phone interviews. Those experiences– both good and bad– taught me the critical and often overlooked components of a great interview.
While most interview guides focus on researching the company, this one goes a step further. These tips are tools that you can use to be more confident and go toe-to-toe with the smartest people in the room.
Here’s the first and most important step:
Visualize Your Day From Start to Finish
Close your eyes and see yourself entering the building where you’ll be having your interview. You wait in the lobby, and soon the hiring manager comes to greet you. From there, you’ll walk to an open office where two other employees await you. During the meeting you’re poised. You make great eye contact, and you speak with confidence. The conversation is flowing and you are well prepared with answers and questions of your own.
Can you see it? That was a short practice in visualization. Some of the best interviews I’ve ever had resulted in me seeing the interview before I ever actually do it. I like to visualize everything from the phone interview, to the first meeting, the negotiations, and down to when I accept the offer.
Research the Company and the Role
Reviewing the company website is the beginning, not the end, of your research. I like to use a top-down approach. I’ll start with the executive members of an organization and work my way down.
Who is the CEO? Have they been mentioned in the news recently? What are the company’s core values and unique value proposition in the market? What is the company culture like? Use websites like Glassdoor and FairyGodBoss to read reviews and gain insights on the interview process.
Use These Practice Interview Questions
Walk me through your resume.
Why are you leaving your current position?
What interests you about this opening?
Why do you want to work here? (Or why do you want this job?)
What’s your biggest weakness?
What’s your biggest strength?
What experience do you have with (a certain software, managing teams, etc)?
Tell me about a time when… (you took a risk, you had to deal with a difficult coworker and how you handled it, when you took initiative, etc).
What are your salary expectations?
Questions to Ask During the Interview
What would success look like in the first 90 days in this position?
What’s the most important technical skill needed in this position?
What are the biggest challenges the person in this position will face?
How would you describe your management style?
Can you describe a typical day or week in the position?
How will the success be measured in this position?
Do you have any reservations about my fit for the position that I could address?
How would you describe the culture here?
When will you be making a hiring decision?
Bringing It All Together
Still nervous? Don’t sweat it. Keep in mind your potential employer is as exhausted from searching for a candidate as you are from job searching. He or she wants to hire you. All you have to do is remove their reservations about hiring you.
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