Updated: Mar 19, 2020
_When you receive a call to attend an interview, what do you do?
Some of us start looking for their best suit or the dress that they’ll put on during the interview. Others start rehearsing the ‘most commonly asked questions’. Others just sit back and start imagining being given a job offer. Others call everyone who cares to listen to them to express their excitement. Others call someone in the recruiting industry for a quick interview coaching session.
It’s not bad to do all these. But one of the most important thing you can do is to understand what the company is looking for in an ideal candidate. When organizations hire, they don’t do it for fun. They’ve got a skills deficit that they need to fill. So, they’re looking for a candidate with a combination of particular appropriate set of skills. They think you could be having these skills. They think. That’s why you’ve been invited for a one-on-one interview. Warning: you’re not alone. You’ll be facing a serious competition from other equally, or better, qualified candidates. So, you must be prepared. Part of this preparation (and certainly the important of them all) is to understand what the potential employer is looking for. This information is available in the JD or the job advert. Sometimes we apply for jobs and forget because much time has elapsed. When called for an interview, go and search for the job advert and study it keenly. Understand in detail the key responsibilities this role will be expected to perform. Also understand the competencies required. Why is this important? When interviewer is asking probing questions and listening to your responses, they’re at the same time running scans at the back of their minds. And even though you might not see or detect it, they’re scoring you against the key responsibilities you’ll be expected to perform. Let’s say, for example, you’re interviewing for a Data Analyst role. From the onset, you should know that you’ll be tested on Excel and how you use its analytics tools. You could be expected to know other data analytics tools. The more you talk on how you’ve used such tools to generate or curate data, the more you score. In other words, understanding the role definition will help you tailor your conversation accurately to demonstrate that you have the required skills to competently execute the responsibilities that comes with this role.
Sadly, most candidate’s get into an interview room with scant information on the role being interviewed for. The least you can do is study keenly the JD or the job advert in order to know the role expectations. Most candidates fail in the interview room, not because they don’t have skills, but because they cannot convincingly demonstrate their competencies. You know what happens? If you can't answer one or two questions adequately because you're poorly informed, you snap. Your confidence thins out and you start panicking. You know the results.
There are interviews I’ve been invited and I take days on end doing research. I read whitepapers, articles and any other relevant information I can land on. When I get into the interview room, am loaded with industry information, data, policy environment, competitor activities, industry pains and opportunities, investment data and future outlook. With good understanding of the role requirements, interviewers will also have their share of listening. Being informed works wonders and often tilts the direction of the conversation. It boosts your confidence. It thaws an otherwise tense moments and makes it less of a question-and-answer session to a peer conversation.
This way, you’ll not sit and shrink inside yourself. You’ll not shrink waiting to interviewers to ask questions then you jump in. You’ll speak with authority and expertise. Let them know that you know the terrain.
_You don’t Know
More often, after working in a position or sector for long, we assume that we know it all. Wrong. Never make an assumption that you know everything. No matter how experienced you are, always take time to dig for information. The panel you meet at the interview room are highly experienced people. Some have hogged decades in the market. They know stuff and therefore don’t think you can bullshit them around. Research. Gather information. Know the company. Know the industry and the trends. Know the role expectations inside out. Good to know how to respond to those ‘commonly asked questions’ but don’t rehearse them. It’s not an exam.
******************************************************** William Mukaria