What to Know on Interview Day
Everyone knows the importance of a first impression, and an interview is no exception to that rule. Whether or not your interview has a positive outcome may very well be determined within the first few minutes you meet with members of the company's team. Therefore, it can not be stressed enough that you must put the time and effort into being as best prepared as possible. In order to accomplish that, make sure you have a simple checklist and go through each of these steps. They are as follows:
Do your best to get a list of the people you will be meeting with.
Know the dress code to make sure you blend in as well as possible.
Know the company location.
Make sure you know the details of the position you will be interviewing for.
Try to get an itinerary for the interview.
Be up-to-date on the company.
These do not have to be completed in any particular order, but each has a high level of importance.
Prior to the interview, ask the company who you will be meeting with. Sometimes the company will not oblige with your request, but most often they will. This is a potential key to your success on interview day. With the tools that are available today at your disposal, you should be able to get details on each of the team member's background.
A good place to start is with your social network tool of choice (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.). By locating each individual, you should be able to get an idea of their background and perhaps get clues into their technical strengths. By doing this, you should hopefully be able to find some similarities with a few, if not all, of the member's of the team. Whether it be something as simple as you growing up in the same area as a team member to having the same interest in a particular open source project, this will benefit you greatly. People who can carry a conversation and find likenesses with one another tend to do extraordinarily well on interview day.
Knowing the dress code of the company is a subtle reminder of a detail that more often than not is taken for granted. A number of people might consider it to be a minor detail, but it still carries a high level of importance. Believe it or not, I have witnessed on a few occasions a person not being considered for a position solely based on their dress, even though they displayed the necessary skill set. Thus, do not let something that is so easy to overcome be a detriment to you on interview day. More often than not, in the technology space, a safe bet is to dress business casual. That always seems to be the de facto standard. But, it never hurts to ask. Rarely is a group more formal than that, but there are times when they are more casual. Nonetheless, even if you are dressed business casual and the rest of the team is in shorts and flip flops, you are going to be OK. Just do not bring out the suit in that instance. You will be looked at as too stiff for their group. On the flip side, I have witnessed a candidate show up in shorts and flip flops with the rest of the team being business casual, and they have taken his/her dress as a lack of respect for their company. At the end of the day, play it safe.
Know where you are going to be heading on interview day. It is another detail that sometimes gets overlooked to the candidates demise. I have heard candidates tell me that they failed an interview due to them either running late or going to the wrong location. It is important that you know how long it is going to take you to get to their location. Everyone is aware of the possibility of there being a car accident or some other traffic situation that makes you late. No matter, make sure you take the companies phone number with you. If you happen to run into traffic, call the company and notify them. There is not anything worse than a team sitting around waiting for you, and you not showing up on time unannounced. That gets you off to a bad start right off the bat. Also, make sure you have the right location. I have seen where people will just look up the address of the company on the corporate web site and go to that location. But, what if this particular team is located in a satellite office that is not listed on their site? In the event that is the case, you will miss the interview time which lowers your chance of success.
Another key factor in a positive outcome of your interview is knowing the details of the position you are interviewing for. This will assist in your preparation. If you have a varied background and have been away from a particular language that they are looking for for the last year, take the time to brush up on it. In addition, perhaps there are ten key items that the company is looking for in an individual, but you only possess eight; try to not only stress those eight but also be prepared to explain the measures you are willing to take to get up to speed on the other two. Or, perhaps other experience that you have will make up for this deficiency. Knowing exactly what they are looking for will only assist you in a successful interview.
If possible, get an itinerary for your interview. Most companies will accommodate you with this request, so do not hesitate to ask. There are several reasons why this is so important. First of all, you will know how much of your time is expected during the interview in the event you are planning other activities that day. Secondly, if it is a lengthy interview, you will be able to see if the company is allotting any time for a lunch break. Thus, you are able to make sure you have had a meal beforehand in the event there are no breaks during the interview. I have had people show up for an interview on an empty stomach believing that there will be a lunch break. When that does not come to fruition, they end up struggling during the latter half of the interview due to a lack of energy. Lastly, an itinerary allows you to know how long you will be meeting with each individual, and perhaps if you will be meeting with one individual more than once. Therefore, you should not incur any surprises during your interview, and it should flow accordingly.
Another important criteria to a successful interview is doing research on the company. Seems like a no brainer, but you would be amazed at how many people forget to spend some time looking at the company. There are so many avenues these days to get information on a company, so please utilize them. Do not just be satisfied with knowing their business, but also look up any news items about the company over the last couple of months. That will give you an idea of where they are headed as an organization. Being able to ask relevant questions revolving around their business model only enhances your chance of a positive meeting.
Preparation is the key to a successful interview. By following these steps, you will improve your chance of landing the open position. All of the items discussed are fairly fundamental, but as mentioned, each holds a high level of importance. By discarding any one of them, you will inhibit this opportunity. Interviews are tough enough during the actual process. Everybody has an equal chance prior to the interview, so make sure you are as prepared as the rest of your competition.