The sheer volume of advice on interviews would be overwhelming if it weren’t such a good thing — everything that puts you in good stead helps — and you’ve probably read it all over the years. The thing is that there’s so much out there it can be difficult to remember everything. Here’s a quick checklist you can use a day before your interview:
1. How much do I know about this company in general? One of the worst mistakes candidates make is not being well informed about the company they’re applying to. Surface knowledge that anyone who reads their website home page can get isn’t enough, especially when you’re applying for a management position.
2. Do I know enough about the role I’m applying for? Knowing what they want from you and how the experience you’ve gained in previous positions ties into this, is essential.
3. Am I sure how to dress for this interview? For instance, if you’re asked to dress “smart-casual” it’s safer to lean towards a more formal look rather than a more casual look.
4. What will I say if I’m asked how much I want? Unless you already know what the position pays, it’s usually best for them to make an offer first, so skillfully push for this and then you can negotiate.
5. When the inevitable “tell us about you” comes, what will I say and what will I leave out? You need to know beforehand, so you don’t get there and start stammering and using fillers like “Err”, “well”, and “you know” or worse, say something you’ll regret.
6. Do I have the necessary paperwork? Even Frank Donga had copies of his resume and NYSC certificate at his interview. Also, if you filled “referees available on request” (HR people say they really don’t see the point and find it annoying) make sure you have their details ready at this point.
7. What will be my answer to “what’s your greatest weakness?” You’re not going to say you don’t have weaknesses; nobody is perfect. Remember that the point of this seemingly useless and wicked question is not what you answer but how you answer it. They want to see how you can take that weakness and present it in a way that doesn’t damage your image, and actually shows how you’re working on it and how that makes you perfect for this job. Answer honestly and wisely. Again, thinking about and practicing your answer helps. Part of this practice is answering the question in a way that doesn’t sound rehearsed. Having someone listen to you also helps.
8. What am I bringing to the table? What will I contribute to the company if I’m hired? Practice how to sell yourself in a tasteful, professional way. You can have someone listen to you and give you feedback.
9. What questions will I ask? Saying “no” or looking lost when asked if you have any questions is not a good look. It’s a good idea to ask at least one question, if you don’t have two. When you think about how your performance will be evaluated, or what the organisation’s culture is like, you will find you do have something to ask.
10. Do I know how long it will take me to get there? Make sure you know how long it will take to get from your house/office to the interview venue, and then leave some room for unforeseen traffic and such. The last thing you want is to arrive harried, sweaty and late. Be sure to check your appearance in a mirror before going in, even if you’re early.