I’ve been helping some friends get ready for job interviews recently. One of the most important things to do in your mind going into an interview — especially if this is a true ‘career opportunity’ you’re pursuing — is to frame the interview to yourself as a two sided event; a two-way interview. Like a first date, both parties want to get to know each other, share their best selves, and figure out if they might be a good fit to go on a second date or pursue a longer term connection.
Your two primary goals as an interviewee are:
1. To show your best self.
You want to show off your strengths and best qualities. This doesn’t mean you want to make-up qualities or pretend to be someone you’re not, that’s a recipe for long-term failure, simply that you want to make it easiest for people to see the good qualities you truly do have.
2. To assess your fit with the organization.
Remember it’s a two way affair. You should have a clear picture when you go in of what you’re looking for and be prepared with questions that will help reveal if the company fits you or not. As a potential employee you should be prepared to be the interviewer as much as the person on the other side of the table.
Coming in with questions is a powerful way to show a proactive nature and to place you on more even footing –which can be advantageous, especially for overcoming some of the typical interview jitters. Make sure you don’t simply have rote questions, you should genuinely go in with an inquisitive and curious mind and a desire to find out if this is the dream job you’re looking for.
Have in your mind, and in your notes, a clear picture of:
A. The type of work environment you thrive in. To figure this out, ask an employer to describe what team meetings look like, how the office environment is arranged, how they deal with conflict, how they deal with advancement and hierarchy.
B. The career path that you are pursuing. You will want to know how they build and grow their employees, what a career path could look like for you, how quickly people advance in their organization, how tolerant they are to failure and thus experiments and growth.
C. What you need to be successful. You will want to ask questions that tell you about communication style, level of integrity, quality of work, company values, mission and vision, and what the typical work day would look like in the position.
Don’t be overbearing but be interested. Don’t be afraid to have notes and refer to them. Notes show that you’re prepared and that you care about finding a good match. Finally be sure to breath and give yourself the time to be thoughtful and be truly sure that you learned everything you wanted to learn before the interview concludes.