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2/7/12

Prepare for an Interview by Thinking Like an Employer - Bill Barnett - Harv

Prepare for an Interview b Thinking Like an Emplo er
2:39 PM Thursday January 26, 2012 by Bill Barnett | Com m ents (13)

People have different natural talents at interviewing for jobs (http://blogs.hbr.org/hmu/2008/02/how-to-ace-aninterview.html) . But even the most talented can fail to get offers if they don't prepare. This goes beyond arriving on time, dressing professionally, being polite, and preparing to discuss every detail of your resume. Of course, these things are important. But get ready for interviews in a way that makes you stand out. Adopt a different mindset theirs. An employer's purpose is to help determine who best fits the job opening and who will improve the organization's capability in that position. The interview is a test. To stand in the shoes of the people who are interviewing you, imagine what they need to know to decide whether to make you an offer. Consider these six steps to align your interview skills with an employer's mindset: 1. Learn all ou can before ou meet. Interviewers bring their experience to the interview. Nothing can substitute for knowing where they're coming from. Master the available information on the institution. Read everything you can find about the company and the job from public sources, the company web site, and anything they send you. Study the written job description and the requirements for candidates. Interviewers expect candidates to know this material. It's the admission ticket. But you can do better. Try out their products. Meet people who once worked there, as well as suppliers, customers, or others in the industry. Ask about the company and how they think the job would work. If you know similar jobs at other companies, consider how they might differ. This foundational knowledge leads to all the other steps. 2. Prepare our own questions. Thoughtful questions show the interviewer you're thinking deeply about the job. They show you're a serious candidate. Among the most impressive lines of questioning are those that address how the organization operates. Get beyond the basics. If you're interviewing at a company known for consumer marketing, for example, don't ask, "Do you do much market research?" If they're known for marketing, you can be sure they do market research. Instead, perhaps this: "How do market research findings influence product design?" Or this: "What are the differences in careers involving market research compared those in brand management?" 3. Make our case. Link yourself to the interviewer's needs in the job. Come to the meeting with two elevator speeches one if you have one minute to describe yourself and another if you have four or five minutes. Start with your personal value proposition (PVP) (http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/11/a_value_proposition_for_your_c.html) and tailor it to the job. Ask yourself this question: "If I get this offer, why might that be?" The answer includes your elevator speech. Imagine questions interviewers may ask and how you'll answer. Some may be about how well you match the job requirements. Others may be prompted by your resume. Are there gaps against their criteria? If so, how have you overcome gaps in the past, or how would you in the job? 4. Show how ou'd succeed. Especially in later interviews, help interviewers judge how you'd do in the job. Show how you'd deal with the job's challenges. Don't suggest you have the answer to a complex situation they undoubtedly know better than you do. Introduce your ideas as a way to imagine how the job would be, and ask for their reaction. ("I assume the situation's like this...If that's right, then I'd need to do this to succeed...") Do this well, and they'll be thinking more about how they'd work with you than whether to make you an offer. This line of discussion is important for everyone, and it's essential for senior roles. CEOs and boards expect new senior people to hit the ground running. 5. Prepare for special interview formats. Consulting firms and others use case interviews. Interviewers at some
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