May 15

Job Interview Prep That Will Make or Break Your Offer

‘What have you done to prepare for this interview?’  This is a favorite question of interviewers. It’s sort of a litmus test to determine whether or not you’re serious about the job—and whether or not you’re a serious contender for hiring. Your answer to this job interview prep question reveals so much about you…how you think, how you solve problems, and how you’ll approach this role after you’re hired.

Personally, I love questions about job interview prep. Why? Because they set you up for a slam dunk (or a hole in one, a touchdown, a home run or whatever sports metaphor you like). As a career coach, I emphasize being ‘over-prepared’ to my clients for this reason. Your job interview prep and how you talk about it can absolutely make or break your job offer.

The job interview prep I recommend to my personal clients

Research the Company

Check out the corporate website to understand what the company does in terms of products or services. Find out how large the company is, where their locations are, and what their mission statement is.

Then start a Google search to uncover news about the company’s projects, growth plans, problems, and so on. What do others saying about this company? Who are their biggest competitors?

Find the company’s LinkedIn and Facebook pages. These pages give you a different perspective and more helpful information. Twitter might also be a good resource.

Ask friends and colleagues what they know about the company. You want to know what the general reputation of this company is. Do they have unreasonable expectations for employees? Are they fair and generous? Do they like to hire or promote from within? Does anyone have a word of advice for you that may help you get hired? Your recruiter is a good resource, too.

Research the Interviewer

Don’t stop at researching the company…research your potential interviewer, too. See if you can spot commonalities in your backgrounds. Did you graduate from the same university? Did you start your careers in similar jobs? These are the kinds of things you can mention in your interview answers that build rapport. Not only that, you may discover a few things NOT to mention…maybe you have sharply differing political views or hobbies. For example, if you’re a hunter, you don’t want to mention that to a potential employer who is clearly anti-hunting or anti-guns.

Also check out the social media profiles or posts of current company employees. Do they have a similar or different background than you? How long were they at the company? Those are big clues for you.

Practice Answering Interview Questions

job interview prepPracticing your interview answers is one of the most powerful things you can do to prepare for an interview, for several reasons. Hearing yourself say your answers out loud will help you refine and improve your answers. Running through your answers also makes you more comfortable with them, which means that you will seem more comfortable, capable, and confident to the interviewer. In turn, this inspires their confidence in you.

Practice answering interview questions on your own (see the best answers to 101 tough job interview questions), with a friend, or hire a career coach to work with you.

Build a Brag Book

Brag books (also known as kudos folders, success files, or professional portfolios) are amazing tools that provide compelling evidence of your success and can absolutely help you get the job offer.

Brag books are typically gathered in a binder or folder and include things like:

  • letters of recommendation
  • complimentary notes, reward letters or awards
  • performance reviews (if you include some, include them all)
  • types of equipment you’ve used or marketed
  • completion certificates from career-relevant courses
  • financial or PowerPoint presentations
  • copies of articles you’ve written or brochures you’ve developed
  • a college transcript (though ONLY if you’re just getting out)

There are lots of great ways to use a brag book in your interview. You can use it to illustrate an interview answer, show proof that you did something, or even use it as another ‘reference’ for you. Find more information about brag books here.

Create a 30-60-90-Day Plan

A 30/60/90-day plan is an outline of what you intend to do your first 3 months on the job. Typically, these plans cover what you’ll do to learn the ropes and how you’ll transition to standing on your own two feet and making your own contributions to the company. Your plan shows your value in the interview and gives the interviewer a ‘test drive’ of what it would be like with you in that role. Once they can ‘see’ it, they become more likely to make you the offer.

I’ve got lots of articles and resources to help you create your plan:

How to talk about your job interview prep to your interviewer

When you are asked what you did to prepare for this interview, say something like:

“I did some research to see more about what you do and how I can help you in this role. I was excited to see that [something you found in your research]. On LinkedIn, I looked at the backgrounds and experiences of people who’ve worked here to see if I would be a good fit, and I believe that I can be successful here. I thought about questions you might have for me and how I could give you the best information about how I could be a benefit to you and the company. With all that information, I created a plan for how I might approach this role in the first 90 days and I’d love to get your thoughts on it.”

As you begin to talk about your 30-60-90-day plan, get it out of your portfolio or briefcase and share it with the interviewer. This is a powerful way to steer the interview in a great direction for you.

If you know you need to be stronger in your next important job interview, consider hiring a career coach to work with you. You can find my career coaching information here.


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