“We’re often told how to prepare for an interview—how to wear our hair, what clothes to don, how to behave, and how to answer questions. What we’re not always told is that the interview is a two-way dance,” says career coach Tamara S. Raymond, author of the award-winning book Careering: The Pocket Guide to Exploring Your Future Career and creator of Careering for Youth: The Online Coaching Edition.
Raymond advises that while the interviewer will be prepared to pepper you with questions, you should come to the table with some of your own.
“Kind of sounds like a date, doesn’t it? Well, the interview just might be your date with work destiny, so be prepared,” Raymond says.
Here’s Raymond’s take on how to interview correctly:
First, she states, your “interview” of the company should begin before you set foot in the office to make your case for the job. She advises that you start by learning everything you can about the organization.
To do that, Raymond says you should:
- Check out the company’s website.
- Check out the company’s employee and customer reviews on the web. Google “employee reviews” and/or “customer reviews” along with the company’s name.
- Research any articles that may have been written about the company or any TV or radio segments.
- If you know someone who works for the organization, set up a phone call or a lunch date with them and, with their help, a few other employees, to learn more about your potential employer.
Use your research, Raymond says, to find out about the:
- Environment. Is the workplace competitive or team oriented?
- Support. Do new workers get support from their boss and coworkers, and if so, what does that support look like?
- Work Pace. What does the work really look like on a day-to-day basis? Are you expected to work on multiple projects or generally one at a time? Does the job involve a lot of juggling most of the time or some of the time?
- Pay. What does the pay generally look like for employees? What is considered a typical salary or hourly pay for someone in the position you’re seeking? How often does the company give raises, and what is the typical range?
- Advancement. What is the prognosis for advancement? How often do employees typically get promoted?
“If you can’t snag a conversation with employees in advance of your interview, you may be able to speak with them while you’re on the premises for your big day,” Raymond states. “White-collar jobs may build in a lunch or other meals expressly to give you time to speak with employees to learn more about the organization. This is a great sign about the professionalism of the company and its desire to not only fete you but to impress you too.”
When you’re in the interview, Raymond says, “Trot out some of the cool facts you’ve learned about the organization. Impress the interviewer with your knowledge of things such as the history of the company, the accomplishments of a particular department, and the former employees who have gone on to become stars in business. Your knowledge of the organization shows the employer that you’re interested in and intrigued by them just as much as they are interested in and intrigued by you.”
Learning about the employer in advance of the interview, Raymond says, may not only make you more impressive to them, but what you find out may also help you conclude that the organization is not for you. For instance, if it’s all about juggling multiple assignments a day, and frankly, you’ve never worked well like that, then finding this out may help you determine that you might not work well at this company.
“Prior to your interview, select the proper suit and the nicest shoes and come armed with information about the company too. Just like in a marriage, you don’t want to sign on the dotted line until you find out you’re compatible. Remember, in so many ways, careering is just like life,” says Raymond.
Tamara S. Raymond is a certified executive leadership coach, career strategist and president of Innovative Management Consulting, an executive and leadership consulting firm. She is also the award-winning author of Careering: The Pocket Guide to Exploring Your Future Career and the creator of Careering for Youth: The Online Coaching Edition.