11 Steps to Interviewing Success.
Interview Success Starts With a Plan

Someone once suggested that failing to plan is the same as planning to fail.  If you’re fortunate to be chosen for an interview, invest the time to plan your approach.

Article by Jeff Snyder

  • Know yourself:  You can’t always know everything about the interview you’re stepping into before you get to the interview but you can prepare to present many aspects of who you are, you do and how you do what you do before you arrive for an interview.   Sit down and write out what you plan to say when addressed with specific questions.  Think of this exercise as weight lifting for the brain.  Don’t memorize what you write but use this exercise to organize your thoughts before you get to the interview rather than trusting your memory to present organized thoughts while you interview.  Organizing your thoughts around a topic before you get to an interview will at the very least help you to stay focused and will help you refrain from rambling.
  • Be Prepared to Explain Yourself:  Both highly skilled and poorly trained interviewers may arrive for your interview and start the interview by asking you to tell them about yourself.  Where do you begin?  The “Tell me about yourself” interview question is a dangerous interview question if you’re not prepared but if you are prepared, you can hit the ball out of the park in the first few minutes of the interview. 
  • Know your resume:  The resume you send to an employer or the resume that is sent to an employer on your behalf by a recruiter is a document you are responsible for explaining when you arrive for an interview.  If you use a resume writing service to help you with your resume, knowing the contents of your resume is still your responsibility. 
  • Be prepared to explain the depth of your project experience:  If you display information regarding projects you’ve completed or even participated in on your resume, be prepared to discuss each and every project in detail.  You may list a dozen projects on your resume.  An interviewer may only ask for details on one or two of the dozen projects.  Which projects will interest the interviewer?  Be prepared to go into detail on every project but don’t expect to cover every project in your interview.
  • Research the Company:  It is very easy to research companies today.  For even the smallest company, it is important to do research on the company before you arrive for an interview.  At the very least, educate yourself through the company’s website, through press releases and through articles on-line that mention the company.
  • Gather Information from inside the company:  In the past, this may have been difficult but today, if you’ve thought ahead and proactively built a LinkedIn network for example, you may be able to find people who work in the company you’re about to interview with, inside your LinkedIn network.  When you find people inside the company you’re about to interview with, consider calling a few people with a pre-determined list of questions about the company.  Don’t ask personal questions that would put the person you’re calling on the spot but ask questions about the company’s health.   Ask about the company’s turnover.  Ask about the company’s growth plans.  Ask if the person you’re talking to might know why the position you’re interviewing for is open. 
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses:  It is easy to talk about your strengths on the fly but not so easy to talk about your weaknesses.  It is imperative to go through the exercise of listing both your strengths and weaknesses prior to an interview.  Don’t try to turn your weaknesses into strengths but don’t get caught flat-footed either.  Know how you’re going to describe those things you’re not so good at, those activities you should delegate to someone else long before you arrive at an interview.
  • Ask intelligent questions:  Have you ever heard the saying that we’re judged by the quality of the questions we ask?  By preparing questions prior to your interview, you can stand out from the crowd.  Ask questions that are specifically related to the job.  Ask questions that relate to the hiring manager’s management style.  Ask questions based on the company research you’ve done.  If the job you’re interviewing for is a highly technical position, ask technical questions.  But don’t just ask technical questions.  More often than not, employers in today’s business market are looking for both technical skills as well as business skills.  Demonstrate both types of skills by asking both types of questions.
  •  Show enthusiasm:  Job opportunities are left on the table every day because interviewees fail to show enthusiasm and they fail to find a way to ask for the job.  What will happen if you tell the interviewer you sincerely hope you’re chosen for the job?  If you ask the interviewer if they’re going to make you an offer, you’ve gone too far.  However, if you simply let the interviewer know that the interview you’ve just experienced uncovered the job you’re most excited about and don’t back the interviewer into a corner, you’re expressed enthusiasm.  This step is skipped more frequently than you might believe.
  • Follow up after the interview:  There are several ways in which to follow up after an interview.  The easiest follow-up, the path of least resistance is to send a follow-up email.  While this is not a bad idea, do you think anybody else who was interviewed might take the path of least resistance?  Send your email but consider the impact you’ll make if in 24-48 hours, the person you interviewed with receives a hand-written thank you note in the mail.  Very few people take the time to send hand-written thank you notes.  Doing so will make you stand out from the crowd.
  • Listen, Listen and Listen: There is a natural tendency when interviewing for the interviewee to talk about what they want to talk about.  Taking action on this tendency more often than not results in a shortened interview.  When in the presence of an interviewer, it is imperative to listen.  Listen carefully to what the interviewer wants to talk about and discipline yourself to stay focused on addressing the interviewer’s agenda and not your own.  

Interview success happens before the interview ever occurs.  Preparation is what separates those who interview well and get to desired results from those who get interviews but rarely receive a job offer.

Jeff Snyder is the President of SecruityRecruiter.com, an executive retained search firm specialized in all facets of security recruiting in the U.S. and abroad.  SecurityRecruiter.com recruits for Information Security Jobs, Corporate Security Jobs, Physical Security Jobs, Electronic Security Jobs, Converged Security Jobs, Critical Infrastructure Protection, Cyber Security Jobs, Homeland Security and more.