Prep for the Interview (and Actually Know What You’re Talking About)

So you’ve landed an interview for a summer internship or (EEK) a real job.  Now what?

I remember when I started the process… those were the days.  I excitedly told my dad about how much I was looking forward to the opportunity.  He promptly asked me about much prep work I’d done.  (Sidenote: thank goodness he did!)

Wait what?  It was hard enough to send my resume and write essays about why I even wanted the position and now you’re saying I have to prepare for the interview?  What does that even mean?!!  *Cue OMG I’m never getting a job panic.*

Take a deep breath.  After a lot of trial and error prepping for interviews on the phone and in-person, I’ve developed a system on how to prepare effectively.  Do your research right, and you’ll go into the meeting with the confidence that you know what you’re talking about.  Hopefully you’ll even walk out with an offer!

Take notes as you research.  Writing helps your brain remember information plus you can use them as a resource when practicing potential answers to questions.  If it’s a phone interview you can even reference them during the call!

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Time to get on the grind.

Step 1: Research the firm 

  • Start by checking out the home page of the company.  Browse around, learn about their history, and take note of any initiatives they’re pushing.  Know the key Executives in the firm especially those that pertain to the division you’re pursuing.

I once was doing an interview for a financial position and was asked who the CFO of the company was.  It was SUPER awkward when I didn’t know – especially because it was such a no brainer thing to look up beforehand.  Needless to say, I never made that mistake again.

  • You’ll also want to spend some time perusing their social media platforms.  Every company is different, so you’ll need to find where they’re focusing their resources whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or another place.  Maybe Pinterest is really their jam.  There’s a real trend of businesses trying to engage with millennials (Read: YOU) and they’re literally pouring information about what’s important to them into social media.  Go look at it.

Step 2: Know the Industry

  • Ideally, you’ll be interviewing in an industry for which you’re passionate and already know a lot about.  Expert or not, do a quick search of the space in which the company operates.  Know any trends that are occurring and what the potential impact could be both short and long term.  Also be generally aware of any major newsworthy events that have happened in the last few months; both those that have to do with the company you’re interested in and any of their competition.

Step 3: Scope Out The People

  • Connections are everything nowadays!  If you know who you’ll be interviewing with ahead of time, be sure to look them up via Linkedin.  You never know what you might have in common!  If you can walk into the interview saying “Wow, what I small world, I saw that you went to my high school!” that’s a great way to start off on the right foot.  It certainly won’t guarantee anything but can put you at ease from the beginning.  It would be totally weird to come in saying that you also love bird watching and saw their incredible bird photos on Facebook.  Don’t be creepy.  Keep it professional – Linkedin falls within that realm.
  • Find out if you already know anyone working there.  Oftentimes, companies will hire from the same school or use similar recruiting tactics.  Especially at larger firms, there’s a high chance that you have some sort of a connection.  Check Linkedin again for this.  You can type in “Your College” and “Firm that You’re Interviewing With” into the search box and see what comes up.  Alternatively, use any organizations you’re involved with, your high school, or the 2nd and 3rd degree connections.  If you do realize you know an employee, no matter how junior, send them a quick email saying how interested you are in the company.  You can even ask about their experience or for more advice on how to prepare!  Information is power.

People are super willing to help!  Last year, I Linkedin messaged a girl who had graduated before me but who was in my sorority.  I’d never met her but we had something in common and I was really interested in the company where she worked.  She emailed me back with some really helpful tips!  The key is to ask.

What have you found helpful in preparing for interviews?

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