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Interview Preparation

Interview Preparation

By Matt Lowney


Most job seekers know they need to prepare for an interview, but often they spend their time preparing for the wrong things. Most candidates focus on interview questions and responses, like “tell me about yourself.” If everyone else is preparing for these types of questions, what are you doing to set yourself apart from the crowd? Here are some tips to help you out-prepare other job seekers.


Know the job. While this advice may seem basic, I’ve interviewed a lot of candidates that don’t have a clear picture of the position for which they are interviewing. Usually this confusion happens when a company representative, usually someone in an administrative function, calls to set up an interview for a hiring manager. Her job is basically to set up an interview schedule, so she’s just trying to get through the list of applicant. Many times this person may not know what position she is calling about herself.  You should ask for clarification. Ask, “Which position will I be interviewing for?”


Know the company. Unless you are interviewing with a company that is in the exact same industry as yours, you probably need to do some research on their products and competitors. These days this information can be found almost entirely on the internet. You should first look at a company’s website to get the basics, but then you should dig a bit deeper. Look for competitors, research products, and explore market trends. A great resource is a local business journal. Most have online editions where you can search archived articles. This type of information is much more objective than a company’s own website and may help give you much needed ammunition during an interview.


Know your strengths. Almost every position a company looks to fill has a job description. Essentially a job description is an in depth review of all the skills and responsibilities a position entails. You should work hard to get this before you go into an interview. Often they can be found in the career section of a company’s website. If not, feel free to ask for a copy when a company calls to set up an interview. Once you see the job description, you can focus on how your strengths match what the company is looking for.


Know how to handle your weaknesses. After looking at the job description, you may not have some of the skills listed. Since most company’s list skills in order of highest priority, you shouldn’t worry about those that may appear at the bottom of the list. These are likely “would like to have” skills. However, what do you do if you don’t have one of the primary skills listed? First off, think about related skills and transferable experiences that may be a good fit for what the company is looking for. Most importantly, you need to make a point of addressing this during an interview. Sometimes interviewers are reluctant to put a candidate “on the spot”, so they might not ask. But when it comes time to make an offer, the interviewer might assume you don’t have the needed skills. By proactively addressing your shortcomings and providing related skills you are giving the interviewer a reason to hire you.


Matt Lowney is a Nashville, Tenn based recruiter, career consultant, and co-host of Career Talk, a weekly one hour career advice radio talk show that airs from 5 to 6 pm each Friday on WAKM 950. For more information he can be reached at