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3 Steps to Prepare You for Your Next Interview

April 2017 - By, Johnathon Klink , Account Manager, Apex Systems.

In my time working at Apex Systems, I’ve been the Recruiter or Account Manager for over 100 placements in just over four years. I’ve seen candidates that were an ideal fit for the position not get a job, and I’ve seen candidates that hit on only a few of the requirements get an offer. Resumes are a great launching point to get an interview, but if candidates don’t prepare correctly, the odds of landing a role are greatly reduced. I’d like to cover a few interview preparation tips that many job seekers may be overlooking. While there are a hundred other preparation steps out there, I will focus on three that I have identified as huge keys to success for any potential candidate.

These three steps include:

    1. Read the Job Description
    2. Question/ Research the Company Culture
    3. Complete "The Night Before Checklist"

Read the Job Description
While this should go without saying, thoroughly reading a job description is the first step to success. Many candidates may read and focus on only one part of the job description without grasping the entirety of the role. While it’s not everything, the job description can provide great hints about what type of questions they’ll be asking you. Here is an example below:

Required Skills:

  • 10+ years of Communication/Communication Lead experience
  • Experience juggling 40+ projects and 3-5 campaigns at one time
  • Extremely good organizational skills
  • Experience creating content (50% of the role)
  • Experience working with project teams (50% of the role)
  • IT Background is a plus

This job description demonstrates how the required/preferred skills area can be a huge help in preparing for an interview. I’ve highlighted two sections in particular. The first is detailing the experience juggling multiple projects/campaigns. Any time a requirement hits on a certain large number or multiple projects, programs, campaigns, etc., an interviewee can be sure the potential employer will ask about an individual’s experience doing something similar to that.

I always tell my candidates to follow these bullet points to make sure they hit what the interviewers are looking for:
  • Where did you complete the specific skills/requirement?
  • What did you do exactly (lead a team, develop an application, etc.)?
  • Who helped you complete? Were you part of a team? If so, how large? What was your role on it, and how did you make sure you contributed?
  • Any challenges you faced? How did you overcome them?

The second highlighted section refers to the “creating content” bullet point. If the job description involves creating content or asks about content in any way, make sure to bring examples or a website link where a potential employer can find them. If the examples/work samples are sensitive material, make sure they are “washed” to protect security. I’ve seen highly qualified candidates miss out on a role because they didn’t have examples of their work available.

Question/Research the Company Culture
Whether a candidate is working with a company like Apex or job searching individually, it’s important to read up on the company culture before stepping foot into an interview. This is not only an excellent way to prepare for the interview, but it also gives candidates an idea if this is going to be the right fit for them. Maybe the company recently went through a huge merger or is opening up a new building. Those are some great topics to bring up during the interview to not only show that a candidate’s up to date on the company, but also dig into whether or not there’s a pending migration, upgrade, or merger that could be leveraged to explain a previous experience. Discussions like this show a candidate cares about the company and could be a huge value-add later on.

How does a candidate find out about a company’s culture? First route is always to head to the company’s website to get a feel for the organization. A company’s social media profiles will also give clues on the work environment and employees. Additionally, there are a variety of websites that provide reviews of companies written by current and former employees. Another great way to learn about the culture is to ask the Recruiter/Account Manager. They will be able to provide details that might not always be available such as if the role offers additional benefits like free parking, free lunch, casual dress days, etc. They should also be able to connect a candidate with a current employee/contractor that is already onsite to further discuss the culture.

Complete “The Night Before Checklist”
The night before the interview, you’ll probably feel nervous, excited, and hopeful that tomorrow goes well. You think you’ve got everything set and are about to call it a night when 30 different things come to your mind. Did I remember to pack this? Is my shirt ironed? Will I have time to get gas in the morning? Let’s be honest, it’s a horrible feeling and you’ll kick yourself in the morning if you forget something. So, to be a little proactive, here’s the list to review when it’s the night before the interview.

✔ Have I mapped the distance to the interview and factored in 15-30 minutes of traffic as well as parking? Do I need to get gas for the car? If so, I’ll need to leave 20 minutes earlier to ensure I arrive 15 minutes early to my interview time.
✔Do I have my interview outfit picked out and ready? Is it washed and ironed? Have I tried it on since I last wore it?
✔ Do I have 3-5 copies of my resume ready to hand out? If you’re working with Apex, we’ll print them for you at your request and bring them with us when we walk you in.
✔ Did I pack my notebook, two pens/pencils, and my work samples?
✔ Do I need to shave (Your recruiter will be able to let you know if the company is facial hair friendly)?
✔ Did I thoroughly read the job description? Do I have a list of questions ready?
✔ Did I research the company/who I’ll be speaking with?

If you can say yes to these questions, you’ll be ready and equipped to knock your interview out of the park!

I’ll be the first one to say that no process is perfect. You may have your own technique that has landed you job after job that doesn’t follow a single one of these tips and that’s just fine because you figured out what works for you. But, there’s a good chance at least one of these tips is on your list. If it isn’t and you’re finding it hard to lock up a role after an interview, try these out! Apex placed over 21,000 resources last year because our candidates were not only rock stars, but also prepared for success.

Click here to register for free for Apex Toolbox Talk Speaker, Jeff Baird's, upcoming 30 minute Body Language in an Interview webinar on Thursday, April 20th at 1 PM ET.

Join us and IT industry leader, CompTIA, on Wednesday April 12th at 3 PM ET for a live Twitter chat, "IT Job Search Strategies" using the hashtag #ITJobsChat.

Click here to view all of our job openings and submit your most recent resume today!



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