After sending out perhaps hundreds of resumes, what a relief to get a message requesting an interview. While the hard part was getting their attention, you now have the chance to show off your talents and explain how you would help the company.
So what happens now? How do you make sure you take full advantage of the opportunity? Here’s what I do… which has helped me walk into an interview with confidence, every time.
The “Interview Prep Worksheet”
Before any interview I fill out an “Interview Prep Worksheet” provided to me by the Career Development Center at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.
The top portion establishes the basic information about the company and position. In order to successfully nail your interview, it’s important to know which company you’ll be working for, the role you’ll be filling, and when and where the interview is going to take place (don’t be late!).
- Position You’re Interviewing For
- Interviewer name/title
- Company Name
- Interview Date and Time
The sheet then breaks up into three sections: research, personal themes, and questions for the employer.
What does the company do?
Before you can figure out how to become an indispensible employee to a company, you need to figure out what they do. Are they a creative, digital agency for Fortune 500 companies? A French bank specializing in securities? A non-partisan think-tank focusing on education policy? Before you go on an interview, it is important to know what you’re getting yourself into. If you cannot answer this question, you better start researching.
Identify three skills necessary for this position
Now that you’ve learned about the company, it’s time to identify what relevant skills you bring to this position. After reading the job description, find examples from your resume to demonstrate your competency. For example, if one of the responsibilities is to provide clients with ongoing strategic counsel on digital best practices, talk about your savvy social media skills and back it up with your Klout score (the average Klout score is around 40.) Be sure to quantify your data, if possible to provide solid numbers and give your interviewer a reference point.
Name at least one industry “trend” or hot topic that might affect this company
This is your opportunity to showcase your knowledge about the industry. While companies’ often look to young people to bring in fresh ideas and information about the latest trends, many interviewees come unprepared. Knowing what opportunities a company can seize makes you an invaluable resource.
Now that you know about the company and the position, you need to market yourself. You should be able to explain to the company what makes you different and why they should choose you over all the other candidates. For example:
- My experience in a traditional public relations agency has allowed me to understand the basic fundamentals of the industry, while my digital experience has exposed me to emerging trends that can be leveraged for further success at this company.
- At my last internship, our digital team worked across all practices. Not only do I have a strong digital background, but I’ve been exposed to digital work in the crisis, brand marketing, corporate, public affairs, and technology space.
While confidence is key, cockiness is a turn-off. Craft three statements about how you can use your experience and skills to help the company and demonstrate why you would be a good fit. It can save you a lot of grief during the interview when you get the question, “So why should I hire you?”
Questions for Employer
Finally, identify at least eight different questions you’d like to ask the interviewer. While this may seem like a lot, it’s more than likely that most of the questions will be answered during the actual interview. Some of my favorite questions come from this Mashable article. Though some questions may come to you as you are interviewing, you shouldn’t count on that. (Note: salary and benefits questions are no-no’s.)
While this may seem like a long sheet, it is better to come over prepared than under prepared. Be sure to bring copies of your resume and if possible, examples of your work including a portfolio with any class work or internship work.
Lastly, remember to be confident. Companies receive a whole lot of resumes and there was something about yours that stood out. Remember that you have something to offer them. You just need to be able to explain how.
Use this interview prep worksheet to your advantage… and walk into each hard-earned interview with confidence!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Levo League!
About the Author: Andrea Wangsanata is a born and bred New Yorker and a recent graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. When she’s not busy assisting her clients as an account manager at the Proof Integrated Communications, she is traveling, reading, drinking, or working out (sometimes at the same time!) Follow Andrea on Twitter!