In an initial interview the interviewer has just one intention: to decide whether or not to invest more time and move forward into the next step in the process. They will examine your work history, educational background, strengths and accomplishments to determine the value you will bring to the organization. He or she is also interested in evaluating your level of motivation, values, attitude and personality to see how well you will “fit” the company and the role. In other words, they are trying to assess if you have the experience or knowledge to do the job, how well you will be able to grow in the organization and whether or not you will fit into the culture.
While it’s true that an interview is an important screening tool for companies, it is just as important for you as a candidate to be screening them. You need to learn more about the position and the company so that you can make an intelligent decision about the job. Just keep in mind where you are in the process and that your ultimate goal in the first interview is usually not to get the job on the spot, but to simply reach the second interview.
As with most situations, preparation is the key to success. The job market is very competitive and you probably will not be the only person being interviewed. The deciding factor may simply be the way you present your skills and qualifications relevant to the position and how well you conduct yourself during the interview.
Here are a few tips that will help you prepare for your interview.
#1 Know Yourself
Most importantly: What value to you bring to the company and this particular role? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What are your short and long-term goals?
Be able to articulate the value you bring and why you are interested in the role. Formulate responses by asking the question: “Why should they hire me?”
Be prepared to answer situational based interview questions with specific examples (Stay connected to see our upcoming blog on the STAR Model for Situational Based Interview Questions)
#2 Research the Company Spend time prior to the interview learning more about the company.
What are their advantages in the market?
More importantly, what are their challenges and how can you help address them?
Why is this role critical to their success?
#3 Close the Interview
Make sure before the interview ends to express your interest in moving forward. Good questions include:
- How well do you feel my background fits what you are looking for?
- I am very interested in moving forward in this process. What are the next steps?
- Have I given you enough information to decide if I can help you solve XX?
Keep in mind that in an initial interview you should stay away from questions about salary, vacation time or other benefits. Stay focused on showing the value that you bring to a role and those questions are more appropriate later in the process.