Most people focus on what happens during an interview but did you know that what happens before can help you get positioned as a top candidate and even help you decide if you are ready to accept an offer when they extend it?
Learn the 2 steps you have to take before you go to your next interview.
Prepare yourself before the interview
As important as it is to do your best during the interview, what can set you apart from other candidates is what you do before the meeting. Start by researching the company and its initiatives in addition to practicing by yourself and with others.
Research the company
Visit the company’s website, read the About Page, and learn about its history, company values, and latest projects. You should also check out their social media pages to see what they are working on.
If you had a bad experience in the past or when the pandemic started, their social media will give you a lot of information about their stances on social issues, racial justice, and how they treat their employees. You should also read company reviews on Glassdoor or Vault.com. Visit the company’s LinkedIn page and see if there are any connections you recognize. This can open the door for getting a recommendation from someone who already works at the company, or insight on benefits and growth.
Prepare questions to ask during the interview
Asking questions during the interview will help you decide if you want to move forward with this employer and if the role is a right fit for you. It also shows your interest in working with them and reminds hiring managers you are interviewing them too. Always ask questions around:
Company culture - Have you ever seen a company that shows diversity on their website photos and values, but once you join there aren’t any BIPOC in leadership positions? You already did your research, and this is your chance to see how their external messages are represented in their day-to-day work.
Specific project or initiatives - Learn how collaboration happens and what people are spending their time working on. Even if the role you applied for doesn’t directly work with a project you saw in your research, you can show your interest and get to know how other departments support the larger goals. If the leadership team or marketing folks are promoting a project or event outside of the employees, that means it’s a strategic priority for them (and where a lot of the resources and money are being invested in).
Recruitment process - Take the guesswork out of the situation and plan your follow-ups before you meet the hiring manager. Prepare a question on what will happen after the interview and when you can expect a call. You can ask if they will contact candidates who don’t go to the next round or the timeline for hiring.
After you have written down these questions, practice them with a family member or a friend just like you would practice for the rest of the interview. You will have peace of mind knowing what to expect from the company, what others say about their work, and identify red flags that will show you they are not the right fit for you.
Paulette Piñero is the owner of LEAD Media LLC, a leadership coaching and management consulting firm that helps professionals of color get the confidence and skills they need to take the next step in their careers.