Nailing the 1st Interview

By Sam Kapur. Co-Founder of Guyding Principals.

I feel there are a few basic rules to nailing the first interview. From my experience though, after interviewing hundreds of candidates, most people don’t understand the basics.

1. Do your Research

This is the most important and neglected part. You want to know all you can about the
company, the people interviewing you, the hiring manager (because it might not be the
same as the person interviewing you), and the job itself.

I’m going to assume that the majority of people reading this blog know the different ways to research a lot of this stuff online, so I won’t go into that. Once you’ve gained the information, you need to go deeper into your research, I recommend speaking with someone who works at the company, preferably in the same division and if possible in the same role.
This way you’ll get an inside look at what you’ll actually be doing and can even find out from them what the interview process is going to look like.

2. Ask the Right Questions

I know, easier said than done, right? It actually is. The questions you want to ask should all be related to whether the position and company is the right fit for you. Ask about the daily activities, the team makeup, the skills necessary for the job, what the potential for
promotion is. What I would avoid asking is anything regarding compensation. If they bring it up it’s ok to discuss, but I personally would avoid answering by saying, “While compensation is important to me, it’s more important to see if the position is right for me”. We can discuss compensation in the next round if that’s ok with you.

The ultimate question to ask though is this. Right at the beginning of the interview say this, “Before we begin the interview is it ok if I ask a quick question? What was it about me that made you decide to schedule this interview?” This helps get them in a positive mind frame about you and gives you some excellent information to utilize during the interview.

3. Take Notes

Besides for the obvious reason of making sure you remember the information given, it also shows that you care about the interview. Another great reason is as a stall tactic to gather your thoughts before answering a tough question. When the interview starts ask
permission to take notes. Make sure to bring an extra pen, it never looks good when you
have to ask for a pen or paper.

4. Dress Appropriately

I today’s job market it’s not always right to wear a suit for your interview. You need to
figure out the culture of the company and dress accordingly. Err on the side of more formal than casual if you’re not sure. A great way to get this information is to ask someone who’s ever interviewed with the company before.

Don’t forget at any time that you are trying to sell yourself by showing the company your
best you. Stay professional, but not stiff. Answer their questions, but make sure you have
some of your own.

What are some questions you would ask a potential employer?


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