One of my friends has been laid off for just about a year now, and she asked me for some tips on preparing for a face to face interview since she hasn't done it in over four years. Here are my suggestions:
There are a couple of things I see a lot of when I'm interviewing a candidate or get feedback from a team member that has interviewed.
1) Make sure you have read the job description and if you have questions about the job or environment ask the recruiter before you go in. (Things like core business hours, size of the team, work environment, company culture). These would be considered company questions. As a candidate, I always ask the recruiter if there are press releases or marketing materials or external websites I can look at to help prepare for the interview. Then come with some questions about the product/service that you can ask specific team members. (See #3 ;)
2) Often an interviewer will describe a project, or the potential role, and a candidate gets fired up and interrupts the interviewer before they have finished what they are going to say. Always let the interviewer complete their thought/question.
3) ASK QUESTIONS. Most interviewers leave you about 10 minutes for questions of your own at the end. You want to seem interested. Some questions I ask interviewers is "tell me about a typical day", and "why did you decide to work here" and "are there any team dynamics that make this a particularly enjoyable/challenging environment?"
Request clarification if needed. For example, I had a phone screen last year and the manager asked me "tell me about your experience with compensation." I lobbed back at her "Do you mean compensation surveys and benchmarking or negotiation or understanding total comp versus base salary?" My response actually told her the answer to the question. My point is, you might get something that is not only "open ended" but has more than one possible way it can be answered. Ask for clarification. This sort of question is actually less about the answer than it is about the thought process and how you approach problem solving.
4) If you haven't done so, read up on behavioral based interviewing. This is how most businesses conduct interviews. The premise is that what you have done in the past is predictive of how you will re/act in the future. So you are going to be asked a ton of "tell me about a time when" sort of questions. You need to think about some situations that demonstrate your core business skills.
5) KNOW YOUR RESUME. EVERYTHING on it is fair game in an interview.
6) One of the biggest problems I see is candidates that talk about their teamwork or projects as part of a team. You need to focus on your individual contributions. People forget about that sometimes. The company is interviewing *you* the individual, not you, member of "The Team".
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