Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith, communications and employer engagement manager for the South Central Workforce Development Council. 

Congratulations. You landed the job interview.

Now what?

Prepare. And by prepare, I mean more than just picking out an outfit for the big day. Preparing for an interview takes time and research.

First off, will the interview be in person or virtual? Will it be one-on-one, or will you be meeting with a panel? Get a list of the people you will meeting with and review their LinkedIn profiles. Learn how to pronounce and spell their names. This will protect you from an embarrassing moment in the interview and make it easier to send a follow up thank-you note.

Spend a few hours learning everything you can about the company.

Visit their website. Explore it fully. Read about the organization’s history, mission, vision and community outreach. Check out their social media — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Read any blogs and/or current news releases. Google the company and see what comes up. You want a big picture of the organization and its culture so you can speak to how you will fit in.

Write down and practice telling success stories that illustrate your skills and accomplishments. My friend who is a career counselor calls these “dragon-slaying” stories. They are a short, powerful stories that tell an interviewer about a problem you’ve faced in the past (the dragon) and how you resolved it.

Practice answering questions out loud while looking in the mirror. If an interviewer says, “Tell me about yourself,” do not offer a biography! Focus on your core skills and experience. If you have an elevator speech, this is where to use it. If you haven’t interviewed in a while, consider asking friends for a mock interview. This prep work will help you be more comfortable during the actual interview.

Finally, don’t forget to prepare a few questions for when it’s your turn to ask. These show you have done your research and want to know more about the company and the position. Do not ask about pay, time off, benefits, etc. Rather, ask what a typical day is like or what kind of training is available to employees. Have two or three questions ready.

No interview is complete until you follow up with a thank-you note. Express appreciation for the interview and reaffirm your interest. This last step can make a difference. Remember, the impression you make can outweigh your actual credentials.

Michelle Smith is the communications and employer engagement manager for the South Central Workforce Council.

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