By Don Goodman
So, you had a professional resume prepared, you passed the initial phone screening, and now you have been invited into your first face-to-face interview with an employer.
Here are some great tips that most people do not know that can help you gain a competitive edge.
These days the interview may not be the standard one-on-one interview with you and the hiring manager evaluating each other.
The best way to be prepared is to ask in the initial phone screen what kind of interview it will be and who will participate. Different types of interviews include team interviews, group interviews, speed interviews, and, of course, Skype and video interviews.
Explain that you need this information so that you set aside an appropriate amount of time for the interview. Of course, knowing what to expect also helps you be better prepared.
In your phone screening you should always ask for the name of the person the position reports to. Armed with this information you can research their background.
The more you know about the person who makes the hiring decision, the better you can focus your conversation.
If you are not interviewing with the hiring manager in this first round, ask for the name of the individual(s) who will be interviewing you.
Then, do your research about them before the meeting.
This helps you build rapport with your interviewer and remember –-
People hire people they like. So, your job is not only to impress them with your skills and experience, but also to get them to like you and want to work with you.
LinkedIn will tell you all sorts of information including how long they have been there and where they came from.
Be sure to see what LinkedIn Groups they belong to, who they are following, their interests and projects, whether you know anyone in common, and if they have posted comments and articles.
Also see if they are active on Twitter and check out their tweets as these give a glimpse into their personality.
[For more, read Smart Research: Check Out the Hiring Manager.]
In LinkedIn you can search for past employees and may also find the person who held the job before. Here you will find a rich source of insights, and information regarding the position, the manager, and the corporate culture.
Regarding the request, the best way to ask for information is to use something like the following:
"I found you on LinkedIn and noticed that your background includes working at ABC. I am interviewing there and wondered if you could answer just a few questions as a random act of kindness. I promise not to take much of your time and thank you in advance."
You can also search LinkedIn's Education section to see if anyone from one of your schools worked there. A fellow "alum" is generally more likely to respond to your request than someone with whom you have nothing in common.
Of course you will check the company out by viewing their web site and press releases. You should also see their presence on Twitter (and follow them), Facebook, LinkedIn, and even YouTube. That’s all pretty standard.
Also, Google the company name plus the word "review." If they market specific products or services, do the same Google search using the product/service name. (You might want to also read 50+ Google Searches to Avoid Layoffs and Bad Employers for more ideas.)
Here are some other things you can do, which vary depending on the type of position you are seeking:
[For more, read The 20-Minute Company Research Guide.]
Before you leave for the interview, be sure that you have all of the necessary documents and are ready make a great impression:
After the interview, follow-up promptly with your thank you notes or emails to each interviewer. Read Guide to Writing Thank You Notes After an Interview for details.
Follow these tips and you will see dramatic improvements in your interviewing and overall job search.
Don Goodman is a triple-certified nationally recognized career professional (Expert Resume Writer, Certified Career Coach, and Job Search Strategist) with over 20 years of experience helping thousands of people quickly land their next job. A graduate of the Wharton School of Business and Stanford University’s Executive Program,