In Part 1 I discussed tactics for securing an interview with a targeted potential employer. Part 2 will explore how to prepare effectively for that interview.

Now that you have been notified you have received an interview, it is now time to make sure you are prepared for it. Here are a few tips to make sure you hit a home run on that first interview.

How to prepare for an interview:

1) Do your research
There is nothing worse interviewing a candidate who has no idea what I do or what my company does. This isn’t college anymore. You can’t just “wing it.” Procrastination and ill-preparedness is grounds for immediate dismissal or a free trip for your resume to the paper shredder. All it takes is a few minutes researching a company to find out what they do.

2) Know who you are meeting
Whether you started with a phone interview, or were contacted via email to schedule an interview, it’s simple and appropriate to ask who you will be meeting during the interview. We are the internet generation and live in the Information Age, so take advantage of your resources. Look them up on Google and Linked In. I am sure you will find something useful. Maybe you graduated from the same school or share similar interests. Anything you can find may help you develop rapport with the interviewer, which may very well help you get the job.

3) Write out some questions you want answered
This is a great way for you to find out what it’s like to work at the company. What would be the typical day for someone in this position? What types of people are successful in this company? What is expected of the person hired for this role in the first 3 months? 6 months? One year? How long have you worked for the company? What has kept you here for that long? There are many great questions to ask, but choose a few that show you’re interested and did some homework.

4) Stay current
Read about the company in the news. Maybe they have a new product they are making or opening a new plant or have been awarded a huge new contract. Or maybe they received a major award or were ranked as one of the best places to work. Reference this information in the interview to show you know about their company. This gives the interviewer a chance to elaborate on the subject which gives you better insight to the company. Make sure you know your facts though because this can backfire quickly if you aren’t careful.

Some of this information may seem like common sense but you’d be surprised how little initiative some candidates take before interviews. So separate yourself from the pack. Be the individual that the interviewer talks about, “did you meet that [*insert your name here]? Wow…did they have their stuff together!” Treat every introduction and interview as if it’s the last chance you’ll get.

Seize every opportunity made available to you!

So don’t have a great interview…make it a great interview. You can’t prepare for everything but you certainly can do the legwork to make sure you’re ready for most things. Prepare hard, then relax, take a deep breath, and knock it out of the park.