There are many theories, books, articles, and blogs – like this one – on having a successful interview. Some will teach you how to express yourself, while others will teach you how to make it interactive by asking open ended questions.
Consider all of these interview information pieces valid pointers, but not a science to follow. Interviews are a very complex activity, especially when it comes to hiring for a new role. New roles are always being identified due to the companies growing, changing, and adopting new technology.
What these interview advice pieces do not always take into consideration is that the person or people conducting the interview honestly may not know what the heck they are doing.
Each company, or even group within a company, often have their own unique style to conduct interviews. Some companies have a very formal interview process, while others simply wing it and go with their gut. Add technology skills sets into this and there are even more variables to figure out when interviewing.
So, what is the best way to walk into an interview feeling prepared?
We have so much information at our fingertips. Not only company information, but employee, and possible hiring manager(s), information is all over the place. You should know the company well. Knowing certain pieces about its financial standing, current and past growth, how they are structured from an organization perspective, attrition, and anything else. You do not have to bring all the information to light in the interview, but having it on your mind is always a good idea. However – beware of reviews! Reviews are great but keep in mind, they can often be from disgruntled employees. It can be addictive reading these – it’s like reading Trip Advisor when planning a vacation. The more you read, the less you want to go somewhere, no matter how perfect. Try to find the objectivity in them.
While you need to be somewhat flexible and not robotic in the interview, having a game plan is necessary. Plan on how you want to introduce yourself, how you want to have small talk, how you’d like the tone of the interview to go, and how you would like to finish the interview – let’s call that Plan A. If things take a turn, you want to recover well and pull the focus elsewhere in a conversation, and you can call that Plan B!
Bring your plan to action. This is the toughest of them all because you are generally not in control. You can, however, execute your plan through the interviewers and their questions. You want to get your points across. How do you do that without rambling? How do you do that without being thorough? Ask. Ask the people or person doing the interviewing. It is fine to make it conversational, and you don’t have to always think in “open ended questions”. You can simply ask things like, “did I answer your question?” or “would you like me to expand on that?” As mentioned, the execution piece is difficult and where someone completely unravels or totally seals the deal.
Most importantly, you are being interviewed, but also you are interviewing them. You want to walk out feeling great, not only about how well you did, but also about the company you may be going to work for in 2 weeks.