I have a first interview tomorrow from updating my resume on Monday. I am going to walk you through the steps I take to prepare for first interviews. I touched briefly on this in an earlier post but I’d like to break it down.
Step 1- Look for press about the company on TechCrunch , The Muse Geek.com and the company’s blog.
If you haven’t already done some online reading about the company in your research before applying, do it now. For this interview, I actually quoted the SVP from an interview in a tech mag in my cover letter. When my mentor looks for press she really deep dives and looks at funding to see how funding is allocated, where it is coming from and how much funding has been dispersed and when. These things weren’t that important to me because my dream job includes longevity, however, it is a great job hunt hack and will help you choose a more stable company, when you have multiple offers.
Step 2- Brush up on technologies that are in the job description that you are not familiar with.
I do not have a CS degree and I did not go to a boot camp. About 99% of what I know I learned solo. I do not recommend this way of learning at all. Technical jargon often throws me off. There is jargon for each individual scripting language, for engineers, project managers and developers. Basically, you are never going to speak every language in the world in one lifetime. If you don’t already work in the industry day to day, you will often read something in a job description and say thank GODDESS for Google. I ran across SaaS (Software as a Service) at the beginning of the year in a large amount of job descriptions. After seeing it more than twice, I decided not to cross my fingers and hope this wasn’t a large portion of the job interview. I did some online reading to discover what it was. In relation to the job that I was interviewing for, SaaS was mentioned exactly once and in the “nice to have’s” section. I still did my research and was able to integrate my new knowledge into an interview question. Today I heard the word “collision” from a Ruby developer friend, he assured me , it ’s a thing. So don’t be afraid to look up that small portion of the job description you hope the hiring manager won’t ask you. You never know how it can help and you will definitely learn something in the process.
Step 3-Go to LinkedIn and see who will be interviewing you.
I am so very uncomfortable with stalking. So when I was given this great interview hack I used it and it works. It’s fun to check out the background of the person who is interviewing you. And here is a quick tip, almost every interviewer I have stalked on LinkedIn has founded a startup, app or other cool project and I genuinely love to see this. It gives me a great subject to talk about with them while mentioning my own entrepreneurial projects. For tomorrow, my interviewer and I have the healthcare industry in common, I will keep this in mind and if it comes up it will be fun to chat about it.
Step 4-Go to the Website and interact
When I say interact, I don’t necessarily mean go and comment about how much you love the company or write emails to customer support. I mean interact as if you were an end user. If you are interviewing for a company that sells a product, sign up for the free trial. Note any user issues you may have had and if asked you can offer your user story. If you are interviewing for a role at a company that isn’t a product, register for the RSS, or follow them on Twitter. These are all ways that you are able to find out more about the way the company interacts with its customers. Funny story, I once had applied to an awesome clothing company here in the city. Before I did that, I was interacting with the website so I could mention my experience in the interview. By the end of my interaction, I ended up with $120 worth of cute joggers. I am not saying you need to go to this extreme, but hey, it didn’t hurt that I was able to talk about how much I loved the product since I owned the product.
Step 5-Prepare some questions
If you have a 15 minute interview you should have at least one question for the hiring manager. 30 minutes or more 3-5. I like to prepare questions in advance but honestly, as the interview progresses, different questions pop up and I end up asking them instead. It’s always good though to have some back up questions. It probably doesn’t need to be said but your questions should be about something you are genuinely interested in, not just because you heard it’s good to ask questions. This is why I often compose questions during the interview because my prep questions were more about clarification of the role and that gets answered in the interview.
These are the steps I go through before each and every first interview. I usually take about 1/2 a day to go through these steps. Then about 30 minutes before the interview I will listen to Clough or chill on the deck with some coffee. I get super nervous (excited) before interviews so I need to relax before them.
Let me know what steps you take before a first interview in the comments.