“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
I recently joined a volunteer team of Northwest Arkansas business leaders to teach a class on interview tips and skills to an amazing room of job seekers and the participants shared that one piece of the advice stood out- Preparation.
Preparation is one of the fundamentals of strategic thinking. And when is it more important to be strategic than when working toward your next career goal? In jobs-skills training there are three key elements of preparation prior to an interview:
Assess yourself – from your personal presentation, what you wear and how you speak, to the experience and skills that you possess-you need to know yourself. Be ready to relate your experience and expertise with the requirements of the position. You might think you do not have project management experience, but after assessing, you see that volunteering to head up a charity committee includes managing a team of 12, budgeting, reaching a goal and reporting results.
Research – know the company, competitors and industry where you are interviewing. An employee who educates themselves and seeks out information is invaluable. Show your interviewer that you possess this ability.
Plan ahead – competition for jobs is fierce. Think through the interview from arrival to completion and have a plan.
Scout out the interview location in advance - being late to the interview will not put you ahead.
Be organized during the interview - bring fresh copies of your resume, a pen and paper.
Have your questions ready - focus your questions on topics like the company and how this position contributes to the goals of the organization. Questions are an opportunity for you to engage in meaningful dialogue on the position and your abilities that would recommend you for the role. This, however, is not the time to ask what the company can do for you.
Sharpening your axe in advance will give you confidence during the interview and show your potential employer that you are prepared to be an accomplished member of their team. So to everyone currently on the job hunt, best of luck as you begin the next phase of your career- prepared.