They’ve read your résumé, you look good on paper and now they want to meet with you to decide if you are a good fit for their firm or company. Here are seven things to do and remember to have a successful interview.
No. 1 Research the Firm/ Company
Do your homework. Research the firm/ company thoroughly before your interview. Below is a list of questions to ask yourself as you learn more about the firm/company.
- How is the firm/company structured?
- Who will you be meeting with? Where did they go to school? What have they published recently?
- Who will you be working with at the firm/company? What is highlighted on their online profiles?
- What does the firm/company seem to value most in their marketing materials? What buzzwords do they use?
- Does the firm/company have public documents related to the position available for your review?
For example, if you are interviewing for a securities position at a publicly traded company, does the company have SEC filings you can review online? The better the understanding you have of the firm/company, the higher your chance of having an excellent interview.
No. 2 Review Your Own Career and Successes
After reviewing the firm/company, review your own career. Remind yourself of your accomplishments and training. It can be difficult to market yourself to a future employer. We often forget about things we have done in our past or take for granted the education and training we have received. Go back, review your résumé and think through what you did for each job. This will help you think on your feet when you are asked questions about your experience and are expected to provide examples.
No. 3 Practice!
Practice answering questions out loud and ask a friend, family member, or your recruiter to do a practice interview with you. Ask for their feedback on your answers and tone. Prepare practice questions for your practice interviewer to ask you. If an interviewer asks if you have specific experience that you don’t have, be prepared to respond specifically and positively. For example, “I don’t have experience preparing X documents. However, I am eager to learn that type of document preparation and it is one of the reasons I am interested in this position. I also have experience preparing Y and Z documents which have some similar aspects.”
No. 4 Remember You Are Interviewing Them as Well
Interviews are as much about you analyzing a potential employer as they are about the potential employer analyzing you. Be prepared to ask good, thoughtful questions and analyze if you would actually like to work there. Pay attention to your gut and look for red flags. For example, if a potential employer asks you illegal questions (e.g., questions about your race, religion, family plans, marital status, etc.) or makes discriminatory or unethical statements, even in jest, you need to take note. It is also a good idea while you are researching a firm/company to talk to trusted friends or advisers who might have insight into the firm/company culture. Consider if you would really be happy working there.
No. 5 Stay Present and Listen
During the interview listen to the questions asked and respond appropriately. Do not use a question to launch into a monologue of your life story. One of the most common complaints we hear back from interviewers is that the candidate talked too much. Conversely, when asked what impressed them about a candidate, interviewers often state that the candidate was “wonderful to talk with” or they “had such a good conversation” with the individual. Candidates who are prepared to go into an interview, confidently listen, and respond appropriately appear more self-assured and capable than those who do not.
No. 6 Follow Up
Follow up with a thank you card or other appropriate gesture. If any of the interviewers asked for additional information or documents that you could not provide during the interview, try to provide the requested information as soon as possible after the interview.
No. 7 Topics to Avoid
- Don’t bring up compensation during the first interview. However, be prepared with strong and appropriate responses if the interviewer brings up questions about compensation.
- Stay positive. Don’t bring up anything negative dealing with your past or former/ current employers.
- Stay away from polarizing topics, such as politics, if at all possible. Please contact me if you would like to discuss this topic in more detail.