Successful interviews don’t just happen — they require preparation. Setting an agenda for your next job interview can lead to success.
It’s a good idea to set an agenda for a meeting, and the same is true for interviews. Walk in with an idea of what you want to get out of the interview and how to make it the most productive for you, and you’ll get much more out of it. (Click here to Tweet this thought.)
Know your interviewers
Before you come in for the interview, ask the recruiter, HR manager or your contact for the interview for the names of your interviewers and how their roles relate to the position you’re interviewing for. Why is this important? It’s difficult to put together the message you want to convey if you don’t know who your audience is.
Once you find out the names of your interviewers, do a bit of research on them by looking up their profiles on LinkedIn. You can get an idea of how long they’ve been with the company, other positions they’ve held and other companies they’ve worked for. If you’re able to speak to other employees at the company, you might be able to gain some additional insights.
Define your agenda for each interview
Once you’ve figured out who your audience is, work on the goals and purpose of each interview from your perspective. While your overall goal is to get to the next round of interviews and land a job offer, think about the building blocks to getting there.
For each interview, determine what the interviewer is looking for and what you want to convey about your own skill set, experience and personality. Each interviewer plays a different role in the hiring process and looks for specific things. Think about your overall story and emphasize your selling points to each interviewer.
Find out your interviewer’s agenda and adjust
Some interviewers will share their agenda at the start of the interview, but they might be very general statements such as, “I’d like to learn more about your experience in accounting.”
Find out what your interviewer thinks a new hire needs to succeed in the position and what he or she thinks you can offer. Then it’s your job to fill in the gaps and find ways to stand out during the interview.
Remember the interviewer directs the meeting
From your interviewer’s perspective, they invited you to the interview, and they lead it. It’s your role to follow their direction and figure out how to carry out your own agenda without pushing it onto your interviewer.
Cues for getting back on track
We’ve all been in meetings that go off track, and by the end, you’re not even sure what you got out of them. You certainly don’t want to come out of an interview feeling that way, but you also have to be prepared for offbeat questions, tangents and distractions.
Armed with the key selling points about your story, you should make mental notes throughout the interview to see if you’ve addressed all of them and how you can weave in the ones you haven’t.
Wrapping up and next steps
In any productive meeting, you’ll walk out with a summary of what was discussed and a list of follow-up items. You’ll want your interviewer to feel the same by asking them if you’ve answered all of their questions and addressed any concerns.
It’s then up to you to make your final selling pitch by summarizing what the position is and what you bring to the table. Don’t forget to find out the next steps for the interviewing process. The follow-up item you want to leave on your interviewer’s mind is, “This is the right candidate. I’m ready to make an offer.”
Lam Nguyen is a co-founder of Prept, the first community of expert interviewers to provide online video conference mock interviews to help seekers land their dream jobs. If you’d like more interviewing tips, check out Prept’s blog. You can also connect with Lam on Twitter.