5 Things Everyone Should Do Before a First Interview
After spending hours drafting your resume and filling out the online application for your dream job, your work finally pays off – *ring, ring.* You pick up the phone to hear a recruiter saying that you’re a top candidate and invites you to come in and meet the team for an interview. You’re one step closer to your dream job and should be proud.
But, don’t think that just because you got the interview your work is done and you’re in. Consider the famous quote from Benjamin Franklin, “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. Interviewees too often fail to do their homework before an interview. Based on my experience interviewing hundreds of jobseekers over the past years, I’ve highlighted 5 things EVERYONE should do before their first interview to ensure they are putting their best foot forward.
1. Do your research – get to know the company inside and out
First off – you should know the company’s name. Sounds basic, right? But, you’d be surprised how many interviewees walk in the door saying Lending Tree instead of Lending Club. Read the company’s website. Understand the company’s mission, the problem they are solving, product benefits, industry challenges, and how your job function contributes to the company’s goals. Don’t stop there — go beyond the company website. The Internet is a powerful tool that will arm you with even more information and insight. Investigate further by reading mainstream media articles and check out online videos and how people are talking about the company on social media sites like LinkedIn or Facebook.
2. Get personal — know the leadership team and who’s interviewing you
Familiarize yourself with the leadership team and key decision makers at the company in addition to the people you’ll be interviewing with. Don’t know whom you will be interviewing with? Ask. Knowing your audience will help you be more comfortable during the interview and can help hedge any surprises. With websites like LinkedIn, there is no excuse to not be knowledgeable about the company’s leaders, who works in which department, and whom you will be interviewing with.
3. Know your pitch — “Why do you want to work at Lending Club?”
Oddly, this question frequently stumps jobseekers – but it shouldn’t. A prepared interviewee should be able to articulate clearly why they are interested in the company while also highlighting their unique value proposition – what they would bring to the table. Explain what it is about the company that excites you, and how that meshes with what makes you tick. Are you passionate about the problem they are solving? Are you excited about applying your previous experience to a new challenge or particular product they are developing? Take this opportunity to pitch your best attributes and what makes you unique, while showcasing your interest or passion for the brand. And yes, practice your pitch.
4. Logistics and Rehearsal – location, timing, dress to impress
Being late is a bad way to start off an interview. Have a rehearsal day in advance of the interview to avoid any surprises that could hinder your ability to showcase your best self, especially if you’re not familiar with the location of the office. Doing a test run a day or two before before will alleviate any stress involved with wrong directions, traffic, parking, etc. Also have a dress rehearsal and try on your outfit the day before. Understand the company vibe to ensure your outfit is appropriate. For example, you wouldn’t wear the same thing to an interview at a bank as you would to an interview at a summer camp.
5. Prepare questions – be ready to turn the table and be the interviewer
Every time a candidate says to me “No, I don’t have any questions,” I’m shocked – and, yes, disappointed. This is your opportunity to interview the company as much as it is their opportunity to interview you, so don’t be shy. Asking intelligent questions shows that you cared enough to do some research and critical thinking about the company and the opportunity. Think about what you want to know that you can’t find online — the department and people you would potentially be working with, and other things that will help you have a better understanding of the company culture. What are the top three priorities or projects that I would contribute to in this role? What is your vision for the company after you launch product X? How does the company provide growth opportunities? What keeps you up at night?
Now is the time to shine. You only get one chance to make a first impression and you already made it this far, so seal the deal by making sure you are prepared to showcase your best self when you meet your potential boss and future teammates. Good luck!
— Dana Burns, Head of Recruiting at Lending Club
Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 at 11:14 am