Ready or not, this is your one shot – Interview Preparedness
So, you’ve been called by a respected recruiter who is interested in what you’re looking for in your next move. Chances are that they are working with a tier-one company in your field on a role tailored to your experience, criteria for change and development aspirations. The company is looking for a candidate with exactly your experience and you even know a couple of people at the prospective company to assist with the inside track. You’ve got this, right?
Not so fast! As a recruiter, working in the competitive Pharmaceutical and Biotech Industry, I have worked with many candidates on such an opportunity. I have seen many go down in flames beaten out by candidates who may not have had all the hiring criteria, but was more effective in conveying their readiness to make an impact in the role and overall fit with the role, team and organization. In fact, I have helped many such candidates win the day.
For highly sought after positions, do not underestimate the readiness of your competition. If you are unable to put the time or effort into preparing for the interview, then you might as well sit it out. It’s that simple.
Here are some best practices that strong candidates employ to prepare for the interview:
1) Be prepared to sell yourself. Yes, you have been contacted by a recruiter, you’re not even looking, but now you know of an outstanding role so you better be prepared to sell yourself, because if you’re not your competition surely is.
2) Once you have researched the company, to decide if you want to apply, you then should take everything you have learned to start brainstorming the challenges you will be facing in the role. Once you have a list of known and presumed challenges, develop stories to share in the interview on how you (you personally, not the team) overcame these challenges and show an understanding of how you will do this in your new role.
3) Swat Analysis: Conduct a “mini SWAT analysis”. It will help you develop insight into the company’s challenges and opportunities. Doing such an analysis will help better prepare you for the interview. It will help you better anticipate questions and show the interview panel that you have the business acumen and best practices that will prepare you for the day to day challenges of the job.
4) 90 Day Plan – The first time I started to receive 90 day plans was on my first VP recruit I managed. A little less than half the candidates submitted a 90 day plan, without request. Im not suggesting that you have one ready for submission, but if you do and it looks good, then it’s a very good idea to submit it with your CV. But, at least, work through the process of a 90 day plan to help better prepare and organize your thoughts for the interview. Candidate feedback on this one suggestions has clearly shown me that this strategy has improved my candidates performance in the interview.
5) Good Questions – Yes, you want to arrive at the interview with good questions, but none should overtly appeal to “what’s in it for me?” Really, all questions should help you identify the challenges facing the role and what the hiring Manager/team is looking for to fill the role. This is the basis of “needs-based selling”: understand their needs then communicate how you have fulfilled those needs in the past.
6) Develop a Communication Strategy – The synthesis of these best practices result in developing a specific Communication Strategy for the interview. You must be prepared to show your understanding of the role, the challenges, how you’ve overcome the challenges and how you plan to leverage this understanding and experience in your new role. As well, you need to be disciplined enough to stay the course and deliver your communication strategy while your in the interview.
How many times have you heard a friend, who was excited about an opportunity, say after the interviews that they came in second place? You may have received that news yourself. As a recruiter, we are in the unique position to see what is working and what falls short. No matter how well suited you are for the role, if you’re not ready to take your time to do your homework and develop a specific communication strategy crafted for interview, then do not interview for the role. The interview allows you the opportunity to communicate to your prospective new employers that you are ready for the challenges of the role and, on average, you only have 45 to 60 minutes, so you must make every minute count. As well, when you are well prepared, have done your research and developed a strategic communication strategy you are showing your new employers exactly what to expect from you as an employee.
Kevin Maguire is a Recruiter/HeadHunter and Senior Partner at McGovern Management Group Inc. (MMGI) who specializes in recruiting in the Canadian Pharmaceutical and Biotech Industry. Since 2003 Kevin has assisted companies identify qualified candidates who consistently succeed in their role and figure into succession planning because of their outstanding contribution to the company. As well, Kevin has assisted hundreds of candidates with their career goals. Kevin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.