Now that you've got your job interview scheduled, it's time to find out just who you're about to talk with.
Here's how to gather information you can use in your job interviews, and how to use it.
Before We Get Started…
The approach I take to obtaining a job is the same I use in marketing – the more information I have the better I can connect with the person I'm speaking with. The better I can connect, the more likely my success of selling my product, my service, or myself.
The more prep work you do, the better you can connect. Come interview time, you'll absolutely nail it.
Being prepared will give you a lot of confidence, which will shine through when talking with people. Job interviews should be fun, not nerve wracking.
To ensure you're prepared, you're going to obtain as much information on each person as humanly possible, and study it. You're going to adapt what you say and do in the interview to each person based on the information you gather.
In short, you're going to do awesome, and have a lot of fun.
Expand Your JFS
First things first. Fire up Evernote, and a new note for each company you're speaking with to your JFS, or Job Finding System. Keeping this information in Evernote means you'll have it at your fingertips, and can reference it up until you speak with your interviewers.
Now, do the following for each person you're going to speak with.
Gather Data From LinkedIn
In my last post, I talked about the value of having a premium LinkedIn profile when looking for a job. It's going to come in handy now too.
Find their LinkedIn profile, and copy down the following:
- Name and job title
- How long they've been with the company (their current employer)
- Previous employers and amount of time they spent there
Here's a screenshot of what one of my records looks like:
Additionally, review the recommendations they've received. These can give you insights into how it is to work with the person. This is especially poignant if you're looking for a mentor in your next boss.
For me, I want to learn from the people I'm working with. I want to be pushed as well as be able to push. I also want any boss I have to mentor me, and teach me how to get to the next level in my career. A real leader has these characteristics.
Talking with people that have worked for your prospective boss can tell you whether or not they fit what you're looking for.
Note: If you speak with people that worked with your potential boss, tell them everything they say to you is confidential. Then keep it that way.
Information in the LinkedIn summary, as well as the interests and education, can help you find common ground. For instance, I found out one person I was speaking with liked hamburgers. In the interview, I mentioned this fact and asked his favorite hamburger places. I also wore a t-shirt with a hamburger on it.
Did he notice? I'm sure he did.
Follow Them On Twitter
Not everyone tweets, but if they do, you should be following them. Take notes on what content they share and from whom.
When you go into your interview, you can mention a piece of content they shared. Be careful though – some people share things without reading them fully. So, talk about the topic on the surface level, and if they go deep, go deep with them.
Search The Company Blog For Their Posts
I've seen everyone from CEOs to individual developers contribute to company blogs. Check the company blog for any posts from your interviewer. In addition to their job title, this can provide insight into what they know best, and is another way to find common ground.
Find Their Other Social Accounts
Check Pinterest, Facebook, and other social media sites for their profiles. Find out if they're married or single. Find out if they have children. Find out what types of food they like. Find out as much as you can.
Check Slideshare.com. Are they speaking at conferences? Are the topics they discuss laser focused or wide ranging? Have they been speaking for months or years? How well have their presentations been received? Do they have any followers?
Send Them A LinkedIn InMail
Once you've created a dossier on your interviewer, send them an InMail.
I suggest keeping your message short and to the point. What I've been doing is telling the person that I look forward to speaking with them.
If you have a lot of common ground, you can lay the foundation for your interview by mentioning a single aspect. I suggest saving that for the actual interview though.
Find Out What To Wear
When we moved to Florida and I began interviewing for IT jobs, I was coming from D.C. with a D.C. method of dressing for interviews. That meant a full suit and tie. Because of this, one interview didn't go so well.
I showed up 15 minutes early for my interview with a growing startup. I walked in dressed like I was ready for my first day of business school.
As soon as I walked in the door, I knew the day wasn't going to go so well. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was wearing jeans, sneakers, and either a polo shirt or a t-shirt. I hadn't even thought to ask the person that scheduled me what the people there wore. Big mistake.
Pro tip: ask the person scheduling you what people wear to the office.
This shows your potential employer a few things:
- You're conscious of their culture
- You pay attention to the details
Don't make the same mistake I did. Just ask. So far, everyone I've spoken with has told me exactly what I should wear.
It goes without saying that you should then take their advice.
Write A List Of Questions
For each person you'll be speaking with, prepare a list of questions. Tie them into what they do for the company, as well as their background and interests.
Be curious. As long as you don't get too personal, there's no reason to keep it all business. Show that you're interested in them as a person.
For example, one person who interviewed me worked for a famous Senator. Having heard how our government “really works” from people that had worked in the Senate, I asked this person what their experience was. Their response was quite entertaining.
Want To Really Stand Out?
I need a calculator to be able to count the number of stories I've heard from hiring managers about the lack of preparation of those they've interviewed you. If you really want to stand out, do everything I've listed above.
Walk into each interview confident.
More than likely, you'll be speaking to one person after the next. You might be in a conference room surrounded by glass. I call this the gauntlet.
Companies want to see how you deal with the constant pressure and questioning. Make it fun.
The better prepared you are, the more confident you'll be, and the more fun you'll have.