The 5 P's - Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance


Make it count...

Conduct research on the company, the hiring manager and know the required skills for the position you are interviewing for. Before sitting in the interviewing seat you should always have a firm understanding of the position you intend to fill. Researching your interviewer will allow you to have a better understanding of their background and skills. It may also open the door for conversation, allowing a “getting to know you feel”. Knowing the company is vital! Who are they and what do they do? Why do you want to work there? How do they fit into the bigger picture for you?

Know your resume and be prepared for common interview questions. Your contact within the organization may be able to give you some insight as to what to expect in your interview. Some interviewers will tackle only hard skills and other will focus in on your soft skills; meaning how well you will fit into their organization. Whatever ever the case, be prepared with detailed and concise responses, detailing examples and your accomplishments where ever possible. And always take several copies of your resume! You may be interviewed by multiple people unexpectedly. Also, bring a pen, references and paper, you may want to take notes. Don’t forget to silence your phone or leave it in the car and no gum chewing!

Always dress for success. It is always better to be overdressed than under dressed. Keep it professional, accessories to a minimum and it’s best to refrain from wearing fragrance. You never know who may be allergic or is displeased with the selection. If you smoke, you may want to reconsider smoking prior to your interview. Some find it very offensive, so it’s best to not.

If you’re on time, you’re late. There is almost no excuse for arriving late for an interview. It’s best to arrive about 15 minutes before your scheduled interview. You may have to fill out some additional paperwork upon arrival. It also allows you to sit back and take in the office culture.

Your interview begins at the parking lot. Everyone you encounter, including the parking attendant, can make or break you. Treat everyone with the same respect you will give your interviewer. The parking attendant, and so on, could be a relative, friend or family member. It also doesn’t hurt to make a great impression with everyone either.

Bring your A game. First, a nice firm, not finger cracking, handshake. Now, focus on the positive and stay away from the negative. We have all had a nightmare boss but this is not the forum to talk about that. Remember they are only hearing your side of the story and there are always three - yours, theirs and the truth. You want to stay upbeat and honest and do that tactfully. For example… I didn’t feel that I was going to be able to realize my full potential under the company structure. There are a lot of layers of management so the potential for growth doesn’t seem possible. Perhaps the truth is this… The boss has nothing but family members, in management positions working for him and they can do no wrong and will never be let go. Therefore, promotion isn’t possible at this point. Delivery is really important! Focus on your skills and what you bring to the table including your soft skills or personality. Typically hard skills are easy to find but the soft skills can be very challenging. At the same time, remember not to babble on. Make sure you are answering the questions very thoroughly, showcasing your skill set. This interview is about getting to the finish line, so put your best foot forward.

Your body language screams. Poor body language can be a deal breaker. While you may be on point with your responses, your body language could be telling a different story. Stay engaged, don’t fidget or look around. Make eye contact with your interviewer(s) and make non-verbal responses showing you’re engaged and actively listening and by all means –remember your posture.

Ask questions. The questions you ask do not have to be specific to the required duties for the position you are interviewing for. Those may have been covered and if so, you may want to make reference to that. For example… I had a couple of questions specific to the position however, you were very thorough and covered them already. Here are some great questions you might want to consider asking.

1. Why is the position open? This can give you great insight. Was the previous occupant fired, promoted, quit or maybe retire? This may pave the way to understanding advancement opportunity.

2. What can you share about the team I will be working with? This will help you get somewhat of a general feel of the dynamics of the group you’ll be joining.

3. What if any, reservations do you have about my qualifications? You should never be afraid to ask this question. This will allow you to answer any potential concerns, better positioning yourself.

4. What do you enjoy most about working here? I find this question very fact finding. It not only allows you the opportunity gain some insight but it also often relaxes the conversation some. Pay very close attention to their response however, the answers may be a red flag.

5. What are next steps? This truly shows your interest in the position. You may learn how many, if any, additional people are interviewing. If you are actively interviewing this is when you may find the opportunity to make it known that you are doing so. If this is the position that you prefer, than say so and why. For example… Do you have any idea what your time frame is for making a decision? I am in final rounds with another company but would really prefer to join your team. However, I really don’t want to pass up on the other opportunity if this one, for some reason, doesn’t come to fruition.

Wrap it up with a thank you before you leave and by Email. Another firm handshake, eye contact and, “I look forward to hearing from you”. Make sure you’ve collected business cards from each person you have interviewed with so you are able to email your thank yous.