By Holly Marley-Henschen
Your resume got noticed and you’ve landed an interview, but the work’s not over yet. To nail this next step in your job hunt, you’ll need to do your homework and do some research, according to Madison career coach Dee Relyea.
Gathering information about an employer (first stop: their website) will help you determine if they’re a good fit for you, says Relyea, independent coach and owner of Career Life Coaching. Background information like their mission or vision statement will help you better understand the work they do, so you’ll be able to communicate why you’re interested in working with them.
Online and personal networks can supply information too.
“Take a look at LinkedIn and see who’s in your network that may work with that company and then talk with them,” she says. Neighbors and friends might also be able to connect you. Workplace review sites like Glassdoor offer candid insight about work culture and environment.
Next, Relyea says, study up.
“[Preparation] makes or breaks it,” she says. “If you’ve gone to all of that work to get an interview, you sure don’t want to blow it because you haven’t figured out what you’re going to say.
”Behavioral questions are a cornerstone of interviews today. These begin with, “Tell me about a time when…” and end with a challenge most employees have faced. Your answers showcase your communication and problem-solving skills, as well as how you might fit in with the company culture.
Keep answers to these questions succinct—two minutes max, Relyea says. Think of your answers as a three-part story. First, give an example of the situation in question. Second, share the action you took in response. Finish it off with the result. She suggests practicing six to eight scenarios. Google “behavioral interview questions” for ideas.
Just like the first day of school, you want to look great for your interview. Relyea suggests getting a feel for the employer’s norm by asking around and checking their website for clues.
Arrive 5-10 minutes early. That way, you’ll have time to use the restroom, check your hair and make sure there’s nothing stuck in your teeth. Early arrival also allows you a few minutes to observe the workplace. How do the environment and employees compare to your ideal? It also gives you another few minutes to review your answers to behavioral questions, Relyea says.
And don’t forget, you’re interviewing the potential employer too.
“When it’s your turn, it’s important to have a couple of questions to ask,” Relyea says. She suggests questions like, “In three months, what would the successful candidate have accomplished?” and, “What’s the most important issue for the new hire to tackle?” Don’t forget that important final question: “What’s the next step in the interview and hiring process?”
Grab your interviewer’s business card on the way out. That way you can send them a note—via email or snail mail—thanking them for their time and restating your interest in the position.
“It never hurts for them to receive a nice little hand-written note three to five days later. It will remind them of you, and it might bring you more to the forefront of the selection process,” Relyea says.