How to Research & Practice for Your Interview
To ensure a successful interview, preparation is the most important thing you can do. You need to research both the potential employer, and practice your interviewing skills.
Researching the Company
When you interview for a position, it is because the company has a need. They either have problems that need to be solved, work that needs to be completed, or customers who need to be served. When you interview, your goal is to understand the company’s needs so that you can show them how you are qualified to fill those needs. You will be hired based on your ability to meet the company’s needs and help them perform better. Spend as much time as possible learning the needs of the company so that you can understand what they are looking for.
Analyze the Job Posting
Nearly every position has an official job posting or job description. If you do not have the job description, ask the company for one. Use the job description to determine the top 5 qualifications they seek. Highlight any words or phrases that seem important for the function of the job. This is your first clue about the company’s needs.
Most companies have an “About Us” page on their website which talks about their products/services, mission, and values. Spend some time becoming familiar with the entire website, and make sure you know what the company does. Google the company or look them up in a local business journal. If you’re well informed, you will sound much more credible and knowledgeable when you step into the interview. If you aren’t well informed, you will seem uncommitted and unmotivated.
Speak to Former or Current Employees
The best information about a position or company comes from the people who work there. It may take a bit of work to find someone, but if you can speak to a current or former employee, you will gain incredible insight into what the company is looking for. However, be considerate of their time – repetitive emails and phone calls will not help your cause.
There are a multitude of creative ways to research a company, such as speaking with competitors or clients, or contacting a journalist who wrote an article on the company. Get creative in your quest for information. The more you know, the more you can show your value and create a compelling reason for them to hire you.
Practice makes perfect! You should never “wing it” in an interview. Once you have done considerable research, you should have an idea about the needs of the company and why the position is open. Based on your research, identify questions that you think you may be asked and begin practicing your responses. Here are a few tactics to consider:
- Be on P‐A‐R: This is one of the most useful acronyms that you will use in an interview. P‐A‐R stands for Problem,Action, Result. Often employers will ask behavioral interview questions, such as “Tell me about a time when you worked in a team.” As you explain your past experiences, describe the problems or challenges that you faced, detail the actions that you took, and highlight the positive results. The PAR approach helps you tell stories effectively. People latch on to stories, and if you can vividly explain what you did at your last job, you will captivate the attention of your audience.
- Practice Interview: One of the best ways to get comfortable answering questions in an interview is to conduct a practice or “mock” interview with a Career Specialist at Bellevue College’s Center for Career Connections, or with a friend who is experienced in hiring. By participating in a mock interview, you will gain valuable practice and practical feedback. Before your practice interview, provide a list of common interview questions and a job description to whoever is going to conduct the interview.