Even for the best of us, interviews can be nerve racking.  But we all have to do them and they happen to be the best way for you to gain insight into a company culture and the open position.  So what do you do?  Prepare.

Do Your Homework

Find out as much as you can about the company from your recruiter, news articles, press releases, annual reports, friends, LinkedIn and other social networks.

Make sure you thoroughly understand the position and how you can contribute by:

  • Reviewing your work history, including dates, responsibilities and accomplishments.
  • Identifying your strengths and areas of expertise, as well as any areas of opportunity.
  • Thinking back to challenges that you had to overcome.
  • Writing out specific examples of achievement so that you are ready to present them.
  • Finding ways to tell your whole career story and how all of your combined experience can help them.

Formulate questions to ask the employers such as:

  • Who has been successful in this position and why?
  • Who has failed and why weren’t they successful?

Help the employer understand why you are interested in their opportunity and company.

  • Is it the company culture you are most interested in?
  • Did you hear that the manager was a good mentor?
  • Or perhaps you are just interested in career advancement and it wasn’t present in your last company.

Whatever the reason, make sure that he or she understands your interest.

Get the Route Down

  • Take a quick drive to the work site if you have time to make sure you know the best route to get there early.  I always aim for 15 minutes early in the parking lot so that I have 5 minutes to look over my information once more.  Then I walk in 10 minutes prior so that they have time to get ready for me.

Prepare your References

  • Double check that all your references are available and know that an employer may be calling them.  It is also important to make sure that all your references are in fact going to give you a positive reference.  Ask them what they will say if they are asked what your strengths and weaknesses are.

Dress the part. 

  • It is always good to go more formal than less; however, if you have the opportunity or an insider that can tell you what to wear you are better off following that advice.

Do you have any tips that have worked well for you in the past?  Please share them in the comments below.