January 22, 2013, 1:58 PM —
In most human endeavors, preparation is the key to success. This could be running a marathon, negotiating the price on a new car, giving a speech, or as you may expect based on the title of this blog, putting your best foot forward in a job interview.
Tony Robbins, the great speaker said “The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck.” Abe Lincoln said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe. “ The great golfer Arnold Palmer said “The more I practice, the luckier I get.”
Lastly, regarding properly preparing for a job interview, I spoke with Rick Rosario, Talent Acquisition Manager at CDW, and this is what he suggested.
1. Do your homework. Research the company, the position and the people with whom you will meet. If you don’t have a complete list of interviewers, feel free to ask. If a biography is not provided on the interviewers, review their background on LinkedIn, if a profile exists. This will help you prepare and potentially find common connections or points of interest with the interview team.
2. Over prepare. This is the best way to increase your confidence going into the interview. Think about your experiences, accomplishments and obstacles that you have overcome. Recruiters want to know specific situations you have experienced, your specific role and contributions to successful outcomes, or how you managed through challenges.
3. Prepare your own questions. A good interview feels more like a conversation than an interview, so think about some questions for the interviewer that demonstrate how much time and thought you have put into the process.
4. Don’t memorize your answers. Companies want critical thinkers and problem solvers, not people who come off overly rehearsed or scripted.
5. Establish rapport with the interviewer. Good hiring managers have already thoroughly researched your background and credentials; so much of the interview is about assessing cultural fit. You’ll want to leave the interviewer with a sense that you would be someone that they would enjoy working with.
6. Be modest. No matter how confident and knowledgeable you are, don’t act like you are the smartest person in the room.
7. Be specific. Be prepared with examples of your successes, how you approached situations, overcame obstacles and reached successful outcomes. Where appropriate, speak in quantifiable terms using past performance metrics to tell your story.
8. Say thank you. Sounds simple, but it can’t be overlooked. Send interviewers a hand written or email thank you note. Make sure your interviewers know how much you valued their time. Be specific and remind the interviewer of your interest and the value you can bring to the company and the position.
9. Next steps. It is okay to ask an interviewer what to expect in terms of next steps in the interview process. Keep in mind, interview processes often take time to coordinate interviewer calendars and for a company to select a final candidate. Try to be patient and not take delays personally.
After our discussion, I started to reflect about interviews in which I participated as either the candidate, when looking for a job, or as a hiring manager when looking to hire others. Regarding my personal job hunting experiences, I must agree with Rick, the better job I did with the type of advice he suggested, the better I did on my interviews. I, of course, didn’t always get the job, but leaving the interview I truly felt like I put my best foot forward. Regarding my experiences as the hiring manager, to the best of my recollection, I was most impressed with the candidates that did things similar to the above list, particularly being well prepared. As a result of this preparation, they looked knowledgeable, confident, and at ease during the interview process.
CDW is a leading provider of technology solutions. For more information, visit www.CDW.com or follow them on Twitter at @CDWCorp.
If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at
eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.
Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.
Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.