5 Things You Can Do To Prepare For An Interview

There’s no perfect equation on how to land your job because everyone has a different style. These tips are here to help guide you in your preparation for the next interview and help you rock it.

Tip 1: Qualify Your References

References are important to companies for many reasons - fact checking, supplemental information, judging your skills, learning about your work attitude, and much more. When you come up with your list you need to keep these items in mind.

Understand the level of the information that will be asked of this person and make sure that the reference has enough data on you. Don’t just leave your reference to make things up. Your reference should know that they’re on your list. If they don’t, shoot them a quick email right now. Include in that email some of the key skills, remind them of the work you’ve done together, and highlight areas that you think they might need a refresher on.

In addition, make sure you let your references know of any changes you have made recently. If your reference knows you from 3 jobs ago, and last you communicated was at job 2, they need to be debriefed that you’ve since moved on to better things or they might feel blind-sided.

Lastly, you don’t want your reference to provide bad/wrong information. Leave out your buddy in the cubicle next to you who probably knows more about your personal life than your work ethic. You would hate that Buddy Bob mentions how efficient you are at work when all you do is hand it off to someone else.

Tip 2: Be Prepared & Be Early

Being prepared is crucial. It’s not enough to do superficial digs on your company. You need to know more than your interviewer. This means going 5 years back to learn more about how the merger went, understanding how the marketing strategy has unfolded since it’s movement into western states, and much more. You need to be able to show that you are invested.

I was taken aback by this piece of advice, but I feel it necessary to share. It was recommended to arrive 15 minutes early. The caveat is that when you arrive, you must say “I realize I’m early. I don’t mind waiting. I’m here to see X”. You don’t want to intrude on the time they have allotted which is why that line is crucial. This time can be used to mentally relax. Often when you are rushed to get there barely 5 minutes early, you’re so flustered and it's attributed to nervousness. Take that time to inhale deeply. Those 15 minutes could help you in various ways, such as discovering that the front door is only open after 11 am and you have to use the side door or other nuances of the office.

Finally, it gives you a chance to get a feel of the environment you might be working in. Take a look around and see if you think this could be a good culture fit for you.

Tip 3: Stay 2 Levels Above the Dress Code

It’s a common rule of thumb that you only have 7 seconds to make your first impression. Realistically, you probably haven’t spoken in those first 7 seconds, but they have seen what you’re wearing.

The question comes in “If I’m applying for Facebook, where everyone is in jeans or cargo shorts. What do I wear to my interview?”. I recommended staying 2 levels above the dress code. For example, if everyone is in cargo shorts two levels would be jacket without a tie. In this scenario, a full suit would be overkill. And with a jacket, you have the option to remove the jacket if your interviewer shows up in shorts and t-shirt.

To explain a little better the clothing hierarchy. Level 1: shorts and t-shirt. Level 2: slacks and a polo. Level 3: jacket, tie. Level 4: full suit. Perhaps this will help for your next interview.

Tip 4: Discover Your Uniqueness Factor

We are not all the same. Some people are better at math while others excel in writing. The beauty in being different is that when it all comes together you can make something bigger than the sum of its parts. You need to find your uniqueness factor. What makes you different than the person in the next cubicle? How are you more valuable than the next candidate? Assume education, work positions, and experience are the same on paper. What makes you more qualified? Perhaps you have an amazing or truly difficult background that you overcame. Maybe you always knew you wanted to be an interior designer and have been doing that since you were two and so it’s ingrained in your DNA. Find that golden nugget that makes you unique and mention it.

Tip 5: Write 2 Thank-You Notes

Thank you notes can be a little bit tricky. When do you send them? What do you write? Send two.

The first note will be a detailed email. Emails are today’s ideal conversation tool and show promptness. However, a basic email will not do. Your email has to show reflection and attention to detail from what you gained from that interview. The best emails can pull a piece of information such as a trip the interviewee mentioned they were planning on, a wedding they had this weekend, or a school they attended and loved, and insert it into the content of the email. This email should be sent within 24 hours to show that you are genuine in your appreciation of their time.

The second note should be a handwritten note. This item can be more generic, as you provided the detail in the email. Handwritten notes are rare and are often received very well. In the note, you can include a basic message that thanks them for their time. This note can be received later by the interviewee and will function as a touch point. Not to mention, if you ever need an excuse to call - you have one. If you haven’t heard anything back, but you can phrase the call (or email) asking if they have received the note or not.

Each tip is designed to help you improve your interview call back rate. These suggestions are excerpts from an interview by Thom Besso*. Ultimately, it comes down to the details of the work you put out. Try these tips out and see how they work out for you!


*Thom Besso has been President of Solomon Swann for 19 years and has interviewed people for CEO positions, executive assistants, and everything in between for different types of industries including oil and gas, pharmaceutical, and IT. Before Solomon Swann, Thom worked 3 years as a Recruiting Manager, 9 years senior level retail for a total of 14 years in retail. He has been a speaker at conferences, sat on international committees, and has been gathering knowledge on recruitment throughout his experience as well as learning from his peers.