Three Levels of Preparation

Before an interview, learn about career-related issues in your selected field and prepare a two-minute presentation; think through the key points you want to make in response to typical interview questions; develop a portfolio; create a weighted list of must-haves and nice-to-haves in a job; and choose and brief your references. For a specific interview, there are three levels of preparation you can do, depending on how much you think you’ll want the job:

Level One—Just the Basics

  • Learn about the company from its website, annual report, and your networking sources.
  • Know what the company’s products and services are.
  • Learn about the company’s financial condition—is it prosperous, pinched, in trouble?
  • Find out where the interview will be, obtain clear directions, and confirm the time. If possible, make a dry run to the location, timing how long it takes and then allowing extra time for possible traffic delays.

Level Two—A Bit More Effort

  • Get information about your interviewer from your networking resources, the person’s assistant, or someone else inside the company.
  • Obtain the job specification, if possible, and think about how it relates to your own experience, education, and accomplishments.
  • Research the company’s history with the products or services that are relevant to the position you’re interviewing for. Is it an industry leader? Did it make or buy the technology? What is the company’s competitive edge?
  • Learn about the company’s culture, if you can, from general business or trade periodicals or from insider guides or company profiles. A reference librarian can also help you with this research

Level Three—When You Really Want That Job

  • Do some original research on customer needs, what the competition is doing, and how the company is faring in the marketplace.
  • Come up with some original ideas that could be beneficial to the company.
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