On the third entry of The Link Up with Latesha, our incredible host Latesha Byrd, founder of Byrd Career Consulting, lists seven things that you need to know before you go into your next interview – know before you go!
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Latesha: What’s up, everyone? Welcome to The Link Up with Latesha. I am your host, Latesha Byrd, and this podcast is for young professionals that need some real deal advice, tips, and resources to navigate corporate America and dominate their career. So if you’re looking to upgrade your brand, get the knowledge you need to level up professionally for your future, you are in the right place. I am here with Living Corporate, and today we’re talking all about interviews, our favorite thing ever. So I am going to be giving you all seven things that you need to know before you go into your next interview. Literally know before you go. And these seven things are things that you can go to the recruiter about directly. I spent a few years as a recruiter, and it was always interesting the candidates that would actually utilize me to help them in their interview process versus those that didn’t. So if you are working with a recruiter during your job search, it’s best to build a solid relationship as you go throughout the interview process. Those recruiters are on your side. They are the gatekeepers, and they can become one of your biggest advocates and an important accomplice to you, as the recruiter typically knows the ins and outs of the company, and the majority of the time the recruiter wants to see you win, you know? At the end of the day, as a recruiter, for any candidate that a recruiter brings in, that candidate is definitely a reflection of the recruiter. So why not use the recruiter? Because if you win, they win. [laughs] If you look good, the recruiter looks good. So with that being said, the recruiter wants to bring in the best of the best people for the job, and best believe if they’re calling you in for an interview, you are that person. So I’m gonna go ahead and hop straight into it. These are a list of things, just seven things, that you have to know before going into the interview. Know before you go. If you don’t know this information, ask the recruiter, ask your contact at that company, but you never want to walk into an interview blind, right? So number one–well, I’ll tell y’all a funny story [laughs] about an interview that I had that was actually terrible. I did not get the job. And this was before I actually became a recruiter myself, okay? I was very young in my career. Very early on, before this whole career coaching thing came about, I was not the best interviewer, and there was one particular interview that I had. It was the day after I got back from a wonderful vacation, and I did not prepare. I didn’t know anything about the job. So please don’t make that mistake. And I was late to the interview. Yep, yep. I was late to the interview. We all know – never, ever, ever be late. It was downtown, and I had to go pay for parking, and I had to find a building, and I had to walk. So I’m, like, literally sweating and late walking in because I did not realize that, “Oh, yeah, I may have arrived 15 minutes early, but it’s gonna take me 10-15 minutes to actually get to the right place.” So I was late, and man, I got into the interview, and guess what? The printer was down. So they looked at me like, “Hey, you have copies of your resume, right?” Didn’t have it. Didn’t have it. So–[laughs] Yes, like I said, I did not get the job. However, I’ve moved way past that now, and I coach people every day on how to do very, very well in their interview. And it definitely takes practice, you know? You may have to learn from your mistakes, but I’m hoping that, through some of the things that I share with you today, you won’t make these mistakes anymore. So again, like I said, seven things you need to know before you go into the interview. Know before you go. Number one is who is interviewing you? You should never walk into an interview without knowing who that person is. You need to know their name. You need to know their job title. And once you get their name, go and look them up on LinkedIn. Get some insight into their background, where they went to school, what their career path was, how long they’ve been with the company, what they did before they got with that company. The best thing about doing research on interviewers prior to the interview is that hopefully you can find some common ground between you and the interviewer, and if you can establish that common ground, it will create a connection and a long-lasting impression that will be hard to get. No, it does not seem stalkerish–[laughs]–if you’re looking them up. I mean, I would hope that you would look them up because those could be people that you would work with every day, and we spend just as much time, if not more, with folks at work as opposed to our loved ones, our kids, our family. So I do think we should all do our due diligence with those people that we’ll be working with and that will be interviewing us. Number two. What is the interview format? So the interview setup can vary depending on industry, company size, and location, but I do have a question – have you ever made the assumption that you’re interviewing with one person only to find out it’s a panel interview? You don’t want to be that person, because that can bring in some nerves or bring up some nerves that you really weren’t expecting. So be prepared. And you need to know “Is it one-on-one? Is it a panel interview?” Are they taking you out to lunch before or after? Does it include a case study or a presentation? There are so many different types of interviews now. You want to know exactly what the interview format is so you can set yourself up for success. Number three – what is the interview process? You probably will start with a phone interview, but then after that phone interview, do you have to do a panel interview and then a final interview with the executive of the group? Not only do you need to know the process, but you need to understand or find out about the timeline as well. “How quickly are they looking to fill the role?” is something that you should always know, or you can ask, ’cause that will give you some time to plan out your life accordingly. If they want to fill the role quickly, they are going to move a little bit quicker in the process. If they want to take their time, then that guarantees, on your part, that you may want to interview with other companies and not just sit around and wait, especially if you’re in a rush or if you are, like, at your wit’s end at your current job and you need to get out. So understand the interview process and the timeline. You can always ask for that. All right, number four – location and parking information. As I alluded to earlier, depending on where you are–like, if you’re in a big city and the interview is either downtown or uptown, then you likely will have to park in a parking deck, maybe on the street somewhere. Again, it could be hit-or-miss depending on the time of day, but you may actually have to walk from your parking deck to another building, to another building, then you may have to go up some stairs. You may have to check in at the lobby. I mean, these are things that you have to know, so give yourself some cushion. And you will want to know this information upfront. Ladies–ladies, ladies. Listen. I know we love wearing our heels walking into these interviews. It makes you feel more confident, at least I know for me it does, but look, I don’t want to park, like, half-a-mile or a mile away from the interview and have to walk in heels, okay? So just be mindful of where the closest parking is and give yourself some time to get there accordingly, but you have to know that. Number five – salary information. You need to know what salary–what the ideal salary of the position is, or at least what the salary is that you’re looking for, even before the very first interviews–before the very first interview. I’ve had a few clients recently that have said, “I mean, I got on my first phone call with the recruiter, and they just asked me straight up, like, “What salary are you looking for?” And I was not prepared.” So you need to know that even–like, once they call you for an interview, you need to know that before your very first interview. What is that salary? You don’t want to be in a position where you kind of lowball yourself, because once you throw a number out there it’s kind of hard to say “Oh, you know what? I didn’t really mean to say that number. This is what I meant to say.” So just do your research upfront. You need to know that before the first interview. Number six is the job description. You should never, ever, ever walk into an interview without the job description. And when I say, you know, know the job description, I mean know it. Study it, read it, highlight, underline, take notes. What I recommend is going through that job description line by line and actually writing out what you’ve done in your prior work experience that is directly related to that specific responsibility. You know, there’s typically two parts to the job description – responsibilities and then qualifications, so go through the responsibilities. Try to mirror from your current role or previous roles what you’ve done that’s very similar to that, and then even looking at those qualifications. If they’re looking for certain skills–you know, public speaking skills, right, or presentation skills, write out certain times or periods in your career where you’ve had to present to a client, where you’ve had to present to executive leadership, because you may get that question “Tell us about your presentation skills. Tell us about the last time you presented something.” And you will need to be able to speak to that. Number seven – basic company information. [laughs] Some companies will provide a link to things to know about the company before the interview. Read that in detail. You can even print it and bring it to the interview with you, and allow that to guide the discussion. Now, if you don’t receive that type of, you know, information, then go to the company’s website. Read the About Us page. You can look at recent news, you can look at what’s going on with their social media, but you will want to have some type of knowledge about the company before you go into that interview because some interviewers will actually ask “Well, what do you know about us?” You know? Or a question that 9 out of 10 we typically get in interviews is “Why do you want to work here?” And don’t just say, “Oh, this just seems like a great place. Everyone seems so happy.” Like, what? You know, make it as specific as possible. Show that you’ve done your research. So those are the seven tips. Just to run through those seven things again, the Know Before You Go. Who is interviewing you? What is the interview format? What is the interview process? Location or parking, salary information, job description, and basic company information. Lastly, use the recruiter for help. The recruiter is there to help you. Again, if you look good, they look good. And the last tip I want to throw in here about interviews is make it personal. If you know someone at the company that you’ve had a conversation with about their experience, bring that into the interview just to kind of show that you have a little bit more knowledge about the company and the culture, the team. Anything that can kind of show that you know more, and you will definitely want to speak to how you can add value to them specifically through those conversations that you’ve had. That would be great. And the other thing with that too is–let’s say you move through multiple interview rounds. Take what you’ve learned–what was discussed in the first interview, take that to the second interview, you know? When you’re in that next interview you can say, like, “Oh, yeah. I had a great conversation with Sally, and these were some of the things that we talked about, and this is directly related to that question that you just asked me.” So you want to show, as you continue to matriculate through the process, your knowledge of what they’re looking for and being able to clearly speak to it. So, again, these are things you have to know before you go. Don’t be afraid to ask the recruiter. Let’s say there’s not a recruiter. You don’t know the recruiter. Like, reach out to whoever that person is that invited you in for the interview. These are questions that recruiters [and] people are used to candidates asking, so don’t be afraid. Know as much as you can before going into the interview. And I hope this helps, and I’ll see you guys next time. Bye!